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The key to crafting an effective user interface, via video game or otherwise, is a careful balancing act of priorities both aesthetic and utilitarian. The location of the interface, how it functions, who is the user, and how is the interface meant to be seen are all questions and considerations that inform the shape and presentation of a plausible, functional user interface.
Observation is one of the most immersive interactive narrative-based games I've played outside of Virtual Reality. Instead of taking control of the protagonist directly, you'll be in control of the AI which can traverse through the various systems as you investigate the disappearance of the crew. You'll be fooled into thinking you're watching an '80s Sci-fi film with all of the VHS post-effects and familiar surroundings which look like they've been ripped right out of the set from Alien. Although built around the incredibly strong narrative and immersive interactions, you'll have to overcome various puzzles as you move around the ship trying to uncover the truth.
If No Code hadn't already gotten its name out there as a strong storyteller with Stories Untold, this game would've put the studio on the map. Observation is everything I hoped it would be.
A statement that although might be a disservice to the advances we've seen in recent years when it comes to interactive story-driven titles, solidifies Observation as a great work of sci-fi fiction.
If you’re after an experience like no other, that will challenge your problem-solving skills in logical and believable ways, you absolutely need to play Observation. It’s one of the most compelling and surprising games I’ve played in recent years. Its biggest achievement, though, is that it didn’t make me feel like I was playing a game; it made me feel like I was genuinely assisting a crew member in distress.
Overall it’s a fresh change from the standard jump scare, or shooter mechanic that we have so much of today. It’s a compelling story and one worth putting some time into puzzle solving to uncover.
Observation spins a chilling and seductive science fiction tale of suspense and mystery, juxtaposed against strong adventure gameplay and stellar production values.
[Observation] tells a captivating, sci-fi story that kept me playing from start to finish in one sitting. Getting to experience it from the view of a space station AI was different from what many other games out there offer and it avoids letting it’s exploratory gameplay grow stale by mixing in interesting and fun puzzle gameplay.
Observation is a game that changes the codes. You are not the hero of the story, you have no decision to make, you follow orders and do everything possible to make sure Emma survives. This approach may not have worked, but here it is completely the opposite. We felt involved in the story, doing our best and trying to solve the puzzles as quickly as possible to find out what happened next, move forward. Served by an irreproachable narrative, Observation will take you on an adventure worthy of the great science fiction productions.
An amazing, unique and genuinely mind-bending entry into the science-fiction genre, Observation draws on its distinct set-up to pull you into a mystery set deep in space. It's existential dread condensed into roughly six to eight hours of gameplay. Discounting the sometimes buggy levels, it has everything you could ever ask for in an original sci-fi title: an intriguing premise, a foreboding theme, and an AI player character, whose motive eludes even yourself.
It's not that Observation brings revolutionary mechanics to its gameplay or narrative, but what makes this a special project is the incredible execution and use of the interactive nature of video games to tell an intriguing Sci-fi thriller. It may sound cliché, but the in-game situations are so well implemented and contextualized that you really feel as an important and operative part of this story.
Review in Portuguese | Read full review
No Code takes sci-fi survival horror in a different direction using clever gameplay design and a powerfully uneasy story to drive the experience. It's not perfect for all gamers, but for those brave enough to stick with it, they will find some special.
Observation is an enjoyable experience. It has its flaws, ranging from an awkward UI to tedious puzzles, but they are overshadowed by the excellent plot and atmosphere. It's pretty much a one-and-done experience (aside from a few collectibles), but the game provides a genuinely fun time. If you're a fan of sci-fi drama in the vein of Stanley Kubrick's masterpiece, give Observation a shot, but be prepared to work through some rough spots.
No Code's sophomore title nails the organic intricacies of feeling like an artificial intelligence system while also telling a compelling and ambitious science fiction narrative.
Observation uses the unfathomable vastness of space to wonderful effect, conjuring a palpable sense of both isolation and dread that rarely falters across the six or seven hours it'll take for you to see it though. Minor quibbles with some aspects of the storytelling and a couple of quality of life issues don't detract from what is an engrossing adventure that thrills far more frequently than it frustrates.
Observation is far from an easy recommendation. If you can't stand slow-paced games, with an unrelentingly cryptic plot, an extreme emphasis in realism and immersion, and puzzles of the "how the heck does this work" variety, avoid it at all costs. The rest can safely give it a go. It's probably the best hard sci-fi thriller of the year, and a must have for those who are in love with space and cosmic horror.
Observation is a sci-fi thriller that puts you in a situation quite unlike any other. You never quite know what to expect, but the writing is solid enough to make sense even at its most unbelievable, and the characters of Sam and Emma really grow on you. A few niggly navigational hiccups and a couple of dull puzzles can break the immersion a bit, but even so any sci-fi fan should have a look at Observation.
My own lack of emotional investment doesn’t negate what Observation does so well. No Code has created something truly unique. It defies easy “x meets y meets z” categorization. While there are recognizable component parts—the map of a ship-builder, the numerous small mechanics of a microgame collection, the rubberneckery of an immersive sim—I have never played anything quite like Observation. But, I’m guessing it would be awfully familiar to the AI in my pocket.
Observation is one of 2019's most unique and interesting games both with its gameplay and overall execution. It delivers a unique sense of horror we typically don't see in games, compelling puzzles, and it has a profound impact on you when the credits roll. While it can sometimes be a tad unpleasant to play with annoying, unsmooth controls and being disorienting, Observation is still a fantastic sci-fi experience.
Observation is an intriguing, sometimes terrifying, sci-fi thriller. Exploration and puzzle solving, combined with a great atmosphere, create a unique tribute to some classic movies such as Alien, 2001 A Space Odyssey, MOON or Gravity.
Review in Spanish | Read full review
Observation will undoubtedly make a lot of best of 2019 lists. Its unique design and mesh of a thrilling space station story that’s bound to get the heart racing and well-implemented puzzles make it a standout.
She never seems to give any hints or suggestions and it was frustrating to get stuck on a puzzle because I didn’t have any idea of what to do or because SAM’s cursor had just missed a crucial puzzle object I needed so I didn’t realize that I could even interact with it.
While it could have done more with its central concept, Observation is a terrific, thrilling adventure game and a superb follow-up for No Code. The blend of the realistic workings of space exploration along with more bizarre elements is perfectly executed and creates an engrossing story with a haunting atmosphere that you'll want to see through.
"Observation" turns out to be an exciting sci-fi thriller that makes use of a unique concept and gives the player a completely new perspective. With each additional puzzle, the player delves deeper into the dark history of space and is driven by the question of the original events. Even though the game concept and storytelling are convincing, the gameplay is sometimes a bit difficult due to the catchy and partly generic puzzles. All in all, players with "Observation" get a thrilling sci-fi adventure, which can convince with its story as well as audio-visually.
Review in German | Read full review
Observation has his flaws (mainly in the technical side), but is a great example of how videogames can come up with new ways of telling stories.
Review in Italian | Read full review
No Code presents another story that catches us from the first moment in which they have taken much care of both the atmosphere and the ambience. A thriller that we will want to play without stopping to solve all the mysteries that it contains.
Review in Spanish | Read full review
As a cinematic experience, Observation can easily be considered one of the highest points of the genre. Cool photography and a great reproduction of the space environment supports a solid and unnerving narrative. On the gameplay side, however, something did not work to the end and at least part of the screams I left to wander in space were not one of terror, but of frustration.
Review in Italian | Read full review
Like Stories Untold before it, Observation is game that I think you really need to play to appreciate how masterful No Code is at setting a tone and building a compelling world for players to explore
Observation does a lot of things correctly. Honing in on the isolation of space generates a wonderful tension on its own. Some pacing issues keep it from excellence, but there is plenty of appeal here for many different gaming preferences.
Observation is a very strong science fiction game with a rich story. It has excellent graphics and good puzzles, but suffering from pixel-hunting, visual effects and scripts that require consistent execution. But if you want something truly unusual in terms of serious space adventures, then you simply forget about all of these shortcomings while watching the mystical story and development of relations between S.A.M. and the most ordinary person - scientist and cosmonaut Emma Fisher.
Review in Russian | Read full review
When the game gives you clear instructions and doesn't force you to solve primitive puzzles, it's great. Unfortunately, it happens not as often as you'd hope.
Review in Russian | Read full review
Despite the control and movement issues in Observation, I would definitely recommend playing it, as it is an experience few other games are likely to offer you. Just be careful, as you may have an existential crisis after the game’s crazy story wraps up.
Overall, Observation has a handful of issues but is still an enjoyable game if you're a fan of the puzzle and sci-fi genre. It takes around 8-10 hours to play through, which I believe is enough content to justify the $25 price tag. Despite only having one centralized location and some confusing puzzles along the way, the overall player controls and narrative of the story are intriguing enough to draw you in for the journey through space.
Having a high-concept idea is all well and good, but it doesn't matter what kind of story you tell, or the world you create, if the act of playing the game is so unpleasant. While occasionally putting the pieces together, often Observation left me bored and frustrated.
"Does this unit have a soul?" Fans will recognize the quote to belong to Legion from the Mass Effect series, an AI who ultimately, leaves it up to the player on whether artificial intelligence can have a soul or not. With SAM, that question is arguably already answered due to you being in control of the AI in the first place, but it is still a fascinating concept to consider and I deeply enjoyed the intrigue behind it.
Observation delivers an interesting thriller story sets in space, through the eyes of SAM, the AI of a lost station. Fascinating until the very end, the story will appreciates itself only if you accept to endure cryptic puzzles and ever changing rules, in a labyrinth that can really drive you crazy.
Review in French | Read full review
Observation combines an excellent narrative and presentation with some often cumbersome gameplay elements that really drag the experience down. It's absolutely worth seeing through to its conclusion, but it may not come easy to the impatient and unforgiving.
Observation spins a solid sci-fi yarn steeped in ominous atmosphere, but it fails to live up to its intriguing "Play as HAL 9000!" pitch. Too much of the game feels like irritating busy work as you wait for something interesting to happen. Folks who care about story first and foremost will want to give Observation a look, but those hoping for both an engaging plot and mechanics may find this space odyssey a drudgery.
Observation is a game that is dripping with potential, and starts brilliantly, but the further you go through the game the more your desire to keep playing drains, a bit like a leaky space suit with oxygen depleting issues. It is worth a play through to soak up the brilliant atmosphere and gasp at the visuals. But only the most hardened walking-sim gamer will find much game in this.
Observation is almost a great game. Characters are interesting enough to hold up an often-surprising story, gameplay sweats intensity and is rewarding more often than not, and what No Code has managed to put together in spite of its small budget is tremendous. What stings more than anything is the thought of what could be. The game has a lot of things that need fixing, even if the hiccups are mostly surface level and technical. Observation truly seems to be only a few patches away from cementing itself as a worthwhile experience in the narratively-driven genre of games. Until then, Observation’s shot at the moon left it drifting into space.
Observation isn’t so bad it’s fun to hate, its just mundane enough to make me want to forget it ever even happened. At least games as bad as The Quiet Man give me something to joke about, this title only took hours off my lifespan.
Observation is undeniably beautiful, but it is also vapid and shallow. An interesting premise is let down by simple puzzles and awkward controls. While the game does have some interesting ideas, the execution fails to stick the landing.
Observation has no trouble grabbing you from the go, with gripping central mysteries and questions that demand answers. Painstaking progress through even the simplest commands and instructions counteract any sense of progress in Observation, and ultimately dilutes and cheapens the experience.
2001 is hardly the most obvious movie to use as inspiration for a video game and perhaps predictably the end result suffers from slow-pacing and a lack of meaningful interaction.