Observation is a sci-fi thriller that takes place on an international space station. The game follows the story of Dr. Emma Fischer, through the eyes of the station’s AI system, S.A.M. Throughout the game, S.A.M. helps Dr. Fisher with various tasks, which range from unlocking doors in the space station, to performing spacewalks, to solving puzzles. It won’t take long to find out that everything is not as it should be. It is up to you to figure out what is going on and what it all means.
Observation Review – Fun but Confusing Puzzles
The main task in Observation is to solve puzzles for Dr. Fisher through S.A.M. A lot of the tasks are fairly simple and self-explanatory. For example, in the beginning, you’ll need to open up a lot of hatch doors for Emma so she can move through the space station. Players can do that with S.A.M. via the on-station cameras that are placed in every room. Players must zoom in so that they can interact with the hatch controls, and then put in the proper schematics to unlock the hatch, and then voila!
As the game progresses, the puzzles get much more difficult. I found at times the answer to the puzzles was often disconnected from the story and left me quite confused. While playing, I even had to reach out to developer No Code to get help because I was stuck and could not progress any further. The solution turned out to be quite simple, but since I had already scanned a document that contained the answer without realizing it, I was unable to find that information again while searching. Thus, I was stuck and couldn’t progress, without realizing that the answer was right under my nose the whole time!
The document I scanned went into S.A.M.’s memory core, which is available in another tab. So while it technically was available to me the whole time, it never would have crossed my mind to go back and look at the scanned item. However, if I had of been able to interact with the object again and see it close up while I was searching the room, I might have realized that what I was looking for was hidden within the object. Thankfully, the developers were very helpful and pointed me in the right direction.
Despite there being a couple of situations where the puzzles were too difficult and seemed disconnected, there were lots of puzzles that were really enjoyable and quite fun. A lot of the times, the puzzles that Observation presents players with are just difficult enough that you’ll need to take a few minutes to solve them, but won’t labor over for more than 30 minutes or so.
Observation Review – One Singular Location
Another big issue that I had with the game is that 90% of it takes place in one location – the space station. While there are lots of small rooms and wings to explore within the station, being confined to that one space gets kind of old. There are a few times where you will have to go outside of the space station for a few minutes, but that creates a whole different issue.
The 10% of playtime that isn’t in the space station still feels quite similar, as the new location is very similar to the old. You’ll know what I am talking about when you get there. It isn’t a huge issue, but it would make the game a bit more exciting if players were able to explore more than the one area. It reminds me of the movie Passengers with Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence, where they wake up and are trapped in space. Virtually the whole movie takes place on the space station; the same is true with Observation.
Observation Review – An intricate and baffling story
*Spoiler Warning: Minor story spoilers ahead!*
The story that Observation tells is a fairly simple one, but it is sort of confusing. As with most things within the sci-fi genre, it doesn’t always make sense. Pretty early in the game, players learn that there is a mysterious third party that is affecting S.A.M. and Dr. Fisher, instructing them to “Bring Her.” While this doesn’t make sense at the beginning, as the story unfolds, the mystery obviously begins to come together. Sort of.
However, by the end of the game, fans are still left scratching their heads a bit. While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, I felt like Observation could have done a better job of explaining what exactly was happening towards the end of the game. I didn’t take major issue with this, I just wish No Code would have filled in the story just a little bit more.
The final scene of the game is rather interesting and sets up a potential sequel or DLC. We reached out to developer No Code, who told us “If there is an appetite for it and we can make it work, we would love to take it further.” So, it should be interesting to see if we have heard the last of S.A.M or if there is more to come.
Observation Review – Fantastic Player Controls
The best aspect of the game is by far the player controls. Controlling S.A.M. is a very enjoyable experience and playing the game through the eyes on an AI system in a very intriguing perspective. The game is played through the perspective of both cameras that are placed around the space station and through an AI sphere that players can control and move around.
Interacting with the environment through the cameras is fairly enjoyable, but controlling the sphere is where Observation succeeds. The controls are smooth for the most part, and flying through the space station in the sphere ensures a good time. When controlling the sphere, players are able to rotate it 360 degrees, so that they can view the environment at the perfect angle. Additional features such as a “boost” option help make the floating experience that much more enjoyable.
Overall, Observation has a handful of issues but is still an enjoyable game if you’re a fan of the puzzle and sci-fi genre. It takes around 8-10 hours to play through, which I believe is enough content to justify the $25 price tag. Despite only having one centralized location and some confusing puzzles along the way, the overall player controls and narrative of the story are intriguing enough to draw you in for the journey through space.
Observation review code provided by developer. Version 1.oo reviewed on PS4. For more information on scoring, please read our Review Policy.