More and more often these days, I find myself wondering exactly what is that keeps me playing games year after year. Obviously I enjoy them; I enjoy them enough to spend a fair amount of time writing about them even. Liking them isn’t the issue, it’s the why of it all that weighs on me. After all, it’s so very easy to lose sight of it among the many disappointments and shady business practices the triple-A produces on such a regular basis. Thankfully, there are still games that remind me why I enjoy the medium so much. Games that capture the attention and leave me marveling at the creativity that spawned them. No Code’s Observation is one of those games.
I’d been following this game’s pre-release media for a few months before it launched and found myself intrigued by it almost immediately. It’s a space-thriller set-up not unlike that found in 2001: A Space Odyssey and Interstellar, but with its own unique twist: you play as the space station’s rudimentary AI/operating system S.A.M. The entire game plays out from the system’s perspective, putting the player in the role of tool rather than protagonist. Well, in the beginning that is. As the above trailer shows, there’s more going on here than meets the eye, and Observation takes players on a wild ride as they drive towards the heart of its story.
As SAM, players work first on maintaining the station and then dealing with other things that crop up later on. SAM is essentially the station, so it can observe and influence just about everything through its cameras and logic systems. Tasks are performed via little mini-games that do a great job of reinforcing the player’s role as a space station AI; the station itself very closely resembles a modern space station interior, with all surfaces covered with equipment and the idea of “up” being completely relative, and the main supporting character of Emma Fischer does a great job of keeping the situation feeling appropriately urgent.
I won’t go into story details or even explain the scenario proper beyond this: something has happened, and you need to get to the bottom of it while keeping the station functional. To say more would be to spoil some of the very special experience waiting for those who haven’t yet had the chance to enjoy this game. Actually, I’ll say one more thing. This is neither a survival game, nor does it belong to the horror genre. There are no timers to worry about, little difficulty to deal with, and no meters to feed. It’s a story-driven thriller filled with little activities to do, a station to explore, characters to watch and a mystery to dive into. Observation is an interactive story in the best possible way, and you owe it to yourself to give it a try! (Especially if you’re starting to feel a bit game-weary like I was.)
Have you had a chance to try Observation yet? What did you think of it? Do you have any games that rekindled your love for gaming?
Lede image from PlayStation Store page.