BGS Hands-on – Observer (Switch)

I reviewed the PS4 version of Observer over a year ago. Despite not being a fan of so-called “walking simulators”, Observer engaged me with its cyberpunk setting, creepy atmosphere, solid story, and Rutger Hauer’s phenomenal performance. I also mentioned how it suffered from one of the most irregular framerates I’ve ever seen. When Polish studio Bloober Team announced they were working on a Switch version of Observer, I got skeptical. The game had performance issues on decent hardware, so one could only imagine how well it would perform on the Switch’s far inferior mobile hardware.

To my surprise, Bloober Team had a booth at BGS 2018 and they had a few Switches with an Observer demo for people to test. They allowed me to play the game in both docked and portable modes the game actually works fine. I couldn’t believe it!

Even though I only had the opportunity to play a short demo involving one of the first times Lazarski hijacks into another person’s mind, I had the chance of comparing Observer‘s Switch performance with the original release from 2017. Yes, the game doesn’t look anywhere as good as the PS4 version. The textural quality has been noticeably reduced, the amount of onscreen particle effects has been cut significantly, and it’s clear that the game is running on a much lower resolution. On the other hand, the framerate which was once the game’s main issue, was steady at what I can only assume a locked 30 fps, unlike the PS4 version’s 5-to-60 framerate rollercoaster. There was a bit of motion blur, but nothing that made the graphics nauseating. The controls acted just like they did on the PS4 version.

The smaller resolution can be considered a bummer for some, but this is the Switch we’re talking about and the main trump card of this version is portability. I couldn’t notice many resolution issues when playing Observer in portable mode, with the performance being pretty much the same as on docked mode. The devs told me that plugging in some quality headphones is most definitely recommended.

I can safely say I’m now looking forward to replaying Observer on the Switch. I was really worried about what the performance on such inferior hardware would end up being like, but since it played well in this unfinished build, I can only assume it’ll get better by the time the game comes out. Bloober Team said they’re still aiming for a 2018 release, so let’s hope that ends up being true.