2084 is a century ahead of the classic Orwellian dystopian novel, and it absolutely acts the part. The Krakow tenement that serves as the setting for >observer_ is a claustrophobic labyrinth of moral, physical, and existential terrors that, when taken as a whole, serves as a fine imagining of what hell might look like. And thatís not even taking into account Lazarskiís slipping grasp on reality. Aesthetically, >observer_ is bold and engaging, despite the unspeakable state of the grand majority of the play space. You get the sense that the world as it exists is not quite the same as the world you perceive. Whether or not this is due to the multitude of cybernetic augmentations inhabiting the main characterís body is left for you to decide. What is constant, however, is the noise: random electronic artifacts that alter your vision, from meaningless emerald vectors, pixels, and voxels to advertising taking up residence on the crudest possible apparatus. The world of >observer_ is vivid, and it is also unspeakably ugly.
Technically, >observer_ struggles on Xbox One. Frame rate dips are frequent, especially early in the game. To say that the uneven performance of the game is something of a statement regarding the glitchy mess that constitutes 2084 Poland would be far too generous; textures can be shrugged off as such, but the frame rate unfortunately cannot.
Rutger Hauer is a fine choice for the suffering, cynical Dan Lazarski. Not just for the genre cred he brings (his famous "Tears in Rain" monologue from Blade Runner is the stuff of science-fiction legend), but because his performance is just so bloody fantastic. Hauerís natural European inflection combines with a smooth and resonant delivery to give voice to a despairing individual whoís not only losing his mind, but arguably coming to terms with his insanity. Accents are not locked down across >observer_ís numerous, unseen NPCs, but considering the state of the world as established in the prologue, itís easily shrugged off.
Industrial ambience was always going to be the go-to motif for >observer_, and composer Arkadiusz Reikowski absolutely nails it here. Sudden blasts of random ear-rape accompany some of the jump scares, so your mileage will vary, depending on what you like out of a horror game. Personally, I think >observer_ should have been able to rise above this kind of stuff, but they donít ruin the experience. Use headphones, and crank them up. Thank (or curse at) me later.