Recently I wrote an article about the bundling of the two horror narrative games, “Layers of Fear” and “>Observer_”. The games’ developer Bloober Team gave me access to play both of their groundbreaking games for one epic review! Since this is a double review, I’m splitting the games up to avoid confusion and the last couple of paragraphs will be my final thoughts on both games.
“Layers of Fear” is about a painter in the midst of the mental breakdown and his obsession over his latest art piece that he hopes will put him back on top. After you start looking at your latest work, that’s when the terror starts.
As you explore the house, hallucinations begin to take over of paint drenched hallways, malformed specters, and artifacts that reflect your troubled past as you try to explore for answers only have your senses toyed with by the other side.
There are times you have to do some problem solving with puzzles, nothing really hard, it actually reminds me of an “Escape the room” type enigmas that require you to go exploring your surroundings for answers.
When the scares pop up, boy do they! If it’s not in your face, it’s in your ears with loud sudden sounds that make you jump out of your chair which after a while makes you paranoid as you continue playing.
“>Observer_” takes place in a Dystopian cyberpunk Poland where many people have been augmented (in cyberpunk lore that’s when people had modifications done to their bodies making them into cyborgs). You play as detective Daniel Lazarski, voiced by Rutger Hauer (giving the story a bit of a “Blade Runner” feel!).
Lazarski is an “Observer”, a kind of special cop who can hack into people’s brains as a form of interrogation and with an augmented vision he can scan crime scenes for clues. Lazarski get’s a phone call from his son who’s a bit of a rebel and is part of a group wanting to bring down the system, basically wanting to make the world no longer reliant on augmentations.
Lazarski goes to the apartment complex where the cryptic phone call came from his son. After arriving, you soon discover a crime scene in which shortly afterward the apartment complex is locked down, trapping you inside. From here you can explore and encounter the other tenants of the apartments and solve other cases as you look for answers about your son.
This game, a lot like “Layers of Fear” which relies on you to explore your surroundings to solve puzzles, given the fact that your character is a cop gives it a detective game feeling. The scares in the game are a lot like LOF where its loud sudden sounds and some jump scares here and there. Most of the scares can be found during “Dream eating” (a term used to describe the moment the Observer plugs into someone’s mind to “interrogate” them.) which will either be a trippy experience OR a trip in terror.
The environments in both “Layers of Fear” and “>Observer_” are well thought out and their execution perfect by putting players in a Victorian mansion owned by a painter that becomes more twisted the more you explore it, and on the beat of a digital streets of a cyberpunkcity in Poland with a seasoned cop. The controls for both games are a bit unique but can be mastered quickly, the attention to detail when it comes to sound is spot on, the balance of invoking fear and curiosity keeps gameplay intriguing.
“Layers of Fear” and “>Observer_” are great stories told in a unique way that makes them special in their own way offering two different experiences that can be memorable for players. This bundle is worth it though I enjoyed “Layers of Fear” more, “>Observer_” is enjoyable in its own way that I can’t really fault it. Normally my rating scale is five stars but since this is a special occasion, we have a ten-star scale for combining both games, I give this bundle a SEVEN out of ten.