The average temperature in space is around 2.7 kelvin (-455 degrees F), which is a slight shade warmer than my blood when playing Observation. Observation is a mini-masterpiece, in its own way. It’s a strong opening for a game review, but let that speak for itself. Developers No Code is already well established with its interactive horror narrative games; you may be familiar with their BAFTA award-winning title, Stories Untold, Observation is the newest installment to the company’s growing library of excellent horror content.
Taking place in deep space, this mysterious puzzle horror puts you in a Space Station OS. It dazzles with the brightness of a thousand suns, drawing influence from popular recent science fiction movies and outshining them all.
- Engaging perspective
- Awesomely atmospheric
- Great in-game scenes
- Short and sweet
- Currently on Game Pass
- Infrequent control frustrations
- Size of the station can get confusing
Observation: Blurring the lines between movie and game
Most of the crew are dead or missing, and she can’t get back to Earth alone, which is where the player comes in. Taking control as SAM, the onboard AI operating system, you will assist Emma in investigating. With the smooth graphics and excellent voice acting, the game plays more like a film than a game.
|Platforms||PC, Xbox One , PS4, Nintendo Switch|
|Price||$20 – $30 or free with Game Pass|
Players are encouraged to explore as much as they can, collecting data through various means, such as scanning documents that will deliver more information relating to the story and the crew. This becomes slightly addictive, although you can quickly get lost when seeking out documents in new areas.
After a short time, SAM will be able to inhabit small drones, which will perambulate you through zero gravity. With 360 degrees vision from turning on both axis and forward movement, you can zip through the adjacent hubs into new zones. The only penalty to knocking into something is a slight vision blip, which I found weirdly endearing.
Sounds, playtime, and creepy sci-fi fun
The soundtrack is greedily atmospheric, sucking the air from your lungs.
The thrills don’t last terribly long, though. Being a short game of around 3-5 hours (depending on how lost you get), the pacing of the plot that is overtly delivered is just right. You could devote more time to going back and looking for more research and data because I didn’t pick up everything on my first play, but I got more than was required for the plot to progress.
At first, the suspects responsible for moving the space station and damaging the equipment seem apparent. Is it the crew commander? Dr. Fisher’s potential lover? One of the other crew members? In the end, you’ll end up asking yourself more questions as you play, so just enjoy the cryptic ride. Plus, one of my favorite things about the game is how it stages and frames the scenes for high impact. Couple this with the immense soundtrack, which complements so well, the game is, at times, jaw-dropping.
Since Observation is pretty heavily story-based, I’ve tried to steer clear of too many spoilers, but if you’re a fan of films set in space, you will feel themes and influences. A couple of movies I’d loosely compare this to would be Sunshine, The Martian, Interstellar, The Cloverfield Paradox, and Arrival.
What you might not love about Observation
As well as this, since the space station is so large and much of it looks the same as the rest of it, it is easy to find yourself a long way from where you actually need to be. Still, I don’t see that as an overall detriment to the game because it doesn’t take up too large a majority of the time you will spend as SAM.
Should you get Observation?
Observation is a great way to spend a few hours to soak up some generous achievements. The story is engaging and twisted through the tubes of spacetime and will leave you wondering. As a true space-head, I felt elated by the end of it. A chilling score, coupled with even colder visuals set in deep space, makes for a great experience.
With an intriguing and sometimes fiddly twist on standard mechanics from the perspective of artificial intelligence, Observation is a deep-space mystery with lots to offer. Great visual framing and icy soundtracks push Observation into overdrive, delivering a game that feels like a movie, or a film you can interact with. You can grab this title on Xbox One, PS4, Nintendo Switch, or play it on Steam right now.
An impressive space horror
Observation will test your brain as you take on the role of a space station operating system in this psychological horror. Short and sweet with generous achievements, fans of Hollywood space blockbusters might want to fire their boosters toward this.
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