Welcome to yet another edition of “Indie Game Spotlight,” a series where we give you a glimpse into some of the must-play indie games. As you may know by now, indie games are short romps that take just a few hours to get through (in most cases, at least) and give us unique, inventive, and memorable gameplay experiences that are unlike anything, especially when compared to their AAA brethren. That’s the beauty of being an indie studio making an indie game; they follow their ideas and are not burdened by market trends or pressured by executives to rake in huge numbers. They do what they want or feel like doing, and thanks to their struggles and hard work, the industry moves forward with their contributions. Let’s take a quick look at yet another indie game and spoiler alert: this is one of my favorites. I love them all, don’t get me wrong, but this gave me an edge-of-the-seat experience, and I still get chills thinking about this game’s premise. Today’s Game: “Observation.”
What Is ‘Observation’?
Alright, picture this: you are an astronaut aboard a space station orbiting the Earth with your astronaut buddies from different countries. All is going well when, one day, suddenly, everything goes haywire, and you lose consciousness. You wake up eventually and try to make sense of what happened with the help of the station’s AI and try to contact Earth to get more information when things go crazy once again, and finally, when everything starts working normally, you realize you are no longer orbiting the Earth but are now orbiting Saturn. What would your reaction to that situation be, and what would you do if you were there, in that position? Fascinating and terrifying, isn’t it?
I have some news for you in the form that you won’t have to imagine that scenario because “Observation” puts you there and asks you to figure out what’s going on and how can you get out of this situation alive and make it back home. Developed by Scottish game studio No Code, this game is a narrative-driven puzzle adventure with a twist not just in its story but also in its gameplay. During the opening minutes of the game, you will be introduced to one Dr. Emma Fisher, the driving force/ protagonist of this story, brilliantly voiced by Kezia Burrows, but here comes the twist: you don’t play as her. You take control of SAM, the AI of the space station. SAM’s perspective is portrayed through the cameras aboard the station, through which you help Emma get across the station by activating, managing, and controlling the various functions aboard the vessel. You can instantly jump to any part of the station and manage the systems there since you are an AI, then guide Emma across the station from point A to B. That’s what you’ll be doing for the most part: solving puzzles and unraveling this mystery to understand what the heck is going on.
The atmosphere they have built for this game is on point with eerie corridors, a lack of lights thanks to all the damage the station endured, and the feeling of isolation that is elevated thanks to playing from the perspective of a camera. The most incredible thing about the atmosphere/ambiance of this game to me is how they managed to give it a horror-game vibe despite of it not being one. When you’re staring into the darkness here, you’ll always be on edge and thinking that something will stare back at you, but it never does, and yet you’ll be afraid. I love how they managed to capture that creepy/ always being watching kind of feeling. You will come across weird anomalies of sorts from time to time, which will intrigue you as much as they’ll creep you out, and without saying too much, I’ll just leave it here by saying that this game knows how to deliver horror elements despite being thriller/mystery. Massive kudos to the devs for being able to pull that off.
That’s “Observation” in a nutshell. A mystery/thriller game where you’ll be playing as an AI and solving puzzles to help the humans aboard the space station. The story here is top-notch, and once you experience the beginning, you’ll want to see it through to the end; you have my word on that. The voice acting is phenomenal, and the gameplay, though simple, is quite interesting and unique. The way they handle the story and the places it takes you will genuinely creep you out and fascinate you all the while you. If you are someone who is scared of the void of space, then this game is bound to elevate your fears, but if you are like me, who loves space and the unknown/supernatural, you’ll be giggling and grinning throughout this journey.
Should You Play ‘Observation’?
I think I made that clear in the beginning, didn’t I? This game is a must-play. Period. The innovation in terms of storytelling, perspectives, and execution here is beyond commendable, and while the game doesn’t offer many game-like elements as everything here plays and is presented like it’s a movie, it still doesn’t take away from how incredibly made all of this is. “Observation” is truly a one-of-a-kind game, indie or otherwise, not only because of how it delivers its story and gives you control of an AI who helps the protagonist throughout but also because these kinds of stories are rare to find in the world of video games. When was the last time you played a thriller game? I genuinely can’t remember one, if I am being honest.
When it comes to the completion, you are looking at 4-5 hours for the main story, so feel free to complete this game in one sitting; that’s when you’ll get the most enjoyment out of this. Achievement hunters, this is an easy 100% if you want to go for it. Most of your achievements will come as you progress through the story, with a few missable ones that are tied to collectibles and stuff. Look up a guide if you are struggling, and you’ll have your 100% in roughly 6-7 hours for this one.
“Observation” is available for $24.99 for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC and can, of course, be played on the Xbox Series X|S and PlayStation 5 thanks to backward compatibility on these consoles. This game and genre, as a whole is a niche, I know that, but don’t let that stop you from checking this one out; you’ll be covered in goosebumps throughout playing this game and will remember what you saw/played for years to come.