A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that >observer_ is a mature downloadable futuristic adventure game with a dystopian storyline. It features extreme blood, gore, and violence, including images of decapitation, dismemberment, and disembowelment. It contains frequent mention of drug use, sale, and addiction. Language is strong and frequently includes words like "f--k" and "s--t." Disturbing dream sequences feature jump scares and distorted, nightmarish imagery. One scene also shows a woman strapped to a chair in her bra and underwear.
- Parents say
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What's it about?
>OBSERVER_ is set in a dystopian, Blade Runner-like future where most of the population has been mechanically augmented. Because of that, they're prime targets for a computer virus called the "nanophage," which makes people violently insane. You play Daniel Lazarski, a rent-a-cop working for the corporation-run government, and the story opens as you receive news of your estranged adult son. You investigate the news as any detective would: by following clues, examining crime scenes, and interviewing potential witnesses. Your built-in augments allow you to scan environments Terminator-style to gather biological and technological evidence, and the story you uncover addresses timely questions regarding fascism, corporate control, blind consumerism, and the ethics of using technology to "improve" humanity.
Is it any good?
This disturbingly fascinating adventure succeeds around a compelling antihero and a frightening horror tale that feels incredibly relevant to our reality. The protagonist of this tale is a world-weary cop played by Blade Runner alum Rutger Hauer. Hauer's Lazarski is a company man whose uses his built-in technology to spy on the populace and keep them docile. >observer_'s vision of the future is grim, a place where paranoid people suffer under a corporate-run government and stay locked in their homes watching endless hours of holovision. It's a frighteningly convincing projection from our current reality. This depressing setting plays host to a great story exploring a range of disturbing themes and brought to nightmarish life by (mostly) intuitive puzzles, great sound design, and visionary graphics.
Awesome as this is, >observer_ isn't for everyone. It's definitely not for kids under 17, and if the sight of blood (gallons of it) and dismembered bodies (lots of 'em) makes you queasy, it's not for you, either. Also take into consideration the heavy special effects (strobe lights, melting images, and other headache- or nausea-inducing elements) that run throughout the game, not to mention the sudden scares and constant tension. Die-hard horror fans, though, are in luck, because this is an outstanding horror adventure.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about violence in video games. Does the game need to showcase extreme violence to get the plot points across, or would nothing be lost if the game wasn't as violent?
Talk about the ethics of bio-augmentation. What would the benefits be? What's the downside?
Think about how governments use fear to control people. Does the media play a part in that strategy?
Discuss the idea of personal privacy. How do you feel about public security cameras and other recording devices?
- Platforms: Windows
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: Aspyr
- Release date: August 15, 2017
- Genre: Adventure
- Topics: Adventures
- ESRB rating: M for Intense Violence, Blood and Gore, Partial Nudity, Sexual Themes, Strong Language, Drug References
- Last updated: June 19, 2019
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.