Review – Observer (Switch)
I first played Observer back when it was released for the Playstation 4 in late 2017. It ended up becoming one of my favorite “walking sims” thanks to its gripping story, setting, and Rutger Hauer’s excellent voice performance. That game wasn’t perfect however, as it suffered from one of the most schizophrenic framerate issues I’ve ever encountered.
When I heard that Bloober Team was planning on porting the game to the Switch, I was skeptical. The Switch’s hardware is a lot weaker than the PS4’s, so I had no idea how a game that was already struggling to run on that console would fair on Nintendo’s handheld. To make matters worse, I disliked Bloober’s first outing on the Switch, Layers of Fear, thanks to its sluggish controls, audio sync issues, and poor graphics. I was shocked when I ended up playing a demo of Observer at Brasil Game Show 2018 and found out that it actually ran fairly well. I went from skeptical to cautiously optimistic in a matter of minutes, looking forward to the final product. Observer is finally out on the Switch, and dare I say, it’s even better than the original console releases.
My previous thoughts regarding Observer‘s plot, setting, voice acting, and overall gameplay remain intact. It’s a walking simulator with some puzzle, investigative, and horror elements thrown into the mix. I enjoyed the initial version of the game, but it encountered tons of framerate issues and sluggish controls. They’ve been partially fixed this time around, at the cost of visual fidelity.
The Switch version of Observer is much more stable framerate than the PS4 version. That’s not to say that it runs smoothly and without hiccups, but framerate doesn’t fluctuate between sixty and ten frames per second like it used to do. Thanks to this, your character moves around a bit faster and the camera movement has been slightly improved.
These improvements make the port of Observer more enjoyable to play, but they also made this version the ugliest of them all. Resolution has been significantely reduced. We don’t own equipment in order to calculate the actual resolution on docked mode, but it doesn’t look much better than 720p. Everything looks a bit blurry. The lighting effects and particle effects have also been significantly reduced, not looking nowhere near as sexy as the PS4 version, and not especially the PC version on a high-end machine. Thankfully, the textural quality is still very high.
When playing on handheld mode, due to the reduced screen size, the game manages to look fairly impressive. The blurred edges isn’t as noticeable when playing on a smaller screen, while the framerate is still kept at decent numbers. I would have never thought that an atmospheric game like Observer would end up being best enjoyed on a portable, but I guess life is full of surprises.
The Switch version of Observer is one of the most impressive technical achievements on the console so far, and is actually less technically flawed than on other consoles. Any visual caveats can be overcome by playing the game on handheld mode. This is still one of the best walking sims, as well as cyberpunk-themed games in general out on the market, so if you’re into franchises like Ghost in the Shell and Blade Runner, this is a must for you.
As a side note, if you’re going to grab this game on the Switch, make sure to have an SD card ready, as the game requires a walloping 18GB of storage space, 10GB more than the original PS4 version.
A much more stable framerate when compared to the PS4 version, at the cost of particle effects, lighting and resolution. The textures are still pretty good, though. Some visual issues are alleviated when playing on portable mode.
The improved framerate makes moving around the building less cumbersome. The control scheme is still unusual, with the right stick being used to open doors, for instance.
It was good back then and it’s still good here. Rutger Hauer knocks it out of the park.
Fun Factor: 8.0
Thanks to the improved overall performance and the fact you can play it on the go, the Switch version of Observer is a bit more enjoyable than the PS4 version.
Final Verdict: 8.0
Observer is available now on PS4, Xbox One, PC and Switch.
Reviewed on Switch.
A copy of Observer was provided by the publisher.