REVIEW: ‘Observer: System Redux’—A Terrifyingly Thrilling Dystopia (PS5)

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Observer: System Redux

Observer: System Redux is a psychological horror game developed by Bloober Team and published by Aspyr. A revamp of the well-received 2017 Observer, Observer: System Redux improves upon each facet of gameplay and storytelling in nearly every way. The psychological horror genre is one that has remained popular across console generations and shows no signs of slowing soon. Where Observer: System Redux stands out is in its beautifully grim cyberpunk environment. This game has the ability to excite, scare, and entertain audiences as its mind-bending mechanics and rich characters give players a fully-fleshed world to play with.

Players take control of Dan Lazarski. Daniel is an Observer—an elite investigator with the ability to hack into the minds of suspects and cybernetically investigate crime scenes. Observer: System Redux takes place in the year 2084. Two major events have changed the trajectory of humanity: the Nanophage and the War. 

As the industry of human augmentation with robotics grew, so did the risk to people who chose to augment themselves. The world was ravaged by a deadly disease called the “Nanophage.” The Nanophage is a software-based disease that causes the nano-machines of cybernetically-enhanced people to become dangerous and progressively weaker.

The War, also known as The Great Decimation, was a global conflict that took place between 2052 and 2059. It grew into a nuclear war that changed the political and geological landscape, rendering many natural resources useless. As governments were upended, corporations took over as the controllers and leaders in society, giving them unbridled power and the ability to shape laws as they see fit. The Observer units are a perfect example of that.

Daniel and the Observer teams have access to a device called the Dream Eater. Dream Eaters can hack into the minds of people to relive their memories, explore fears, and understand their obsessions. Observers use this to interrogate suspects and solve crimes. However, it comes at a steep cost. Each time Daniel goes deeper into a suspect’s mind, the greater the chance of losing his sanity. 

Observer: System Redux is not a true remake of the game, nor is it only a remaster for new consoles. System Redux is a definitive edition of the game, as it comes with graphical upgrades and an expanded storyline. One of the first improvements I noticed was neural interrogations. In the original Observer, the interrogations had the ability to drag on longer than they should. That does not seem to be the case in System Redux. Neural interrogations are more focused and succinct, leading to a better gameplay experience.

Stealth gameplay is also a vast improvement over the original. Observer’s stealth sections were infamously difficult, as the slightest misstep would queue a game over. As someone who enjoys psychological games with detective elements, but is historically bad at being stealthy, this was a gatekeeper to enjoying the full game. However, Observer: System Redux gives players the freedom to make the occasional mistake without ruining the mission. And trust me, in the stealth portions of the game, mistakes will be made. Stealth missions are the scariest part of the game in my opinion.

Another triumph of Observer: System Redux is its integration with new features of the PlayStation 5. The PS5’s DualSense controller is one of the most appealing aspects of the new console. Observer: System Redux takes advantage of its sensor upgrades by giving a more sharp and localized feel when Dan is damaged. When the Dream Eater is activated, the DualSense uses the haptic feedback mechanics and improved speakers to make players feel immersed in the world. 

Observer: System Redux

Graphics are also upgraded in this game, as characters look clearer and more lifelike. With the increased resolution and fps, these upgrades give each motion more purpose and a better feel. This is more clear than ever in the new side quests Observer: System Redux put into the game. While I only had the chance to play through the first, Errant Signal, the fluidity of character motions and stunning visuals of the cyberpunk surroundings were noticeable.

Observer: System Redux is one of the more impressive definitive editions of the last few years. Bloober Team does an incredible job highlighting where Observer succeeded (storyline and graphics) and improving upon where it needed to (stealth gameplay and interrogation sections). Its success was perfectly timed with the release of new consoles, as Observer: System Redux is tailor-made to enjoy aesthetically. The new console generation provides the capability to do just that. Observer: System Redux is a great game for fans of the psychological horror genre, and a gorgeous game to enjoy over the holiday season.

Observer: System Redux is out now for PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, and PC.

Observer: System Redux
  • 8.5/10
    Rating - 8.5/10
8.5/10

TL;DR

Observer: System Redux is one of the more impressive definitive editions of the last few years. Bloober Team does an incredible job highlighting where Observer succeeded (storyline and graphics) and improving upon where it needed to (stealth gameplay and interrogation sections). Its success was perfectly timed with the release of new consoles, as Observer: System Redux is tailor-made to enjoy aesthetically.