I know I can’t make a second nomination but since nobody else has brought it up and I think it totally deserves a spot on the shortlist, I’m going to make an unofficial case for Observer. Not bolding it so it’s clear that The Sexy Brutale is still my one nomination!
And by “making an unofficial case” I mean I’ll be doing what I did for AC: Origins in the big developer nomination topic and quote stuff from a Waypoint article. This time, it’s from the site’s #1 horror/cyberpunk video game fan danielle (she’s basically the perfect combination of austin and patrick’s tastes).
What we need is cyberpunk that takes us by the throat and shows us just how bad things can get.
You see a lot of bodies in Observer—mainly dead ones—mangled and thoroughly messed up. There’s a graphic allusion to a terrible disease and suicide very early on that sets the tone, and things only get worse from there. Those still among the living aren’t really doing much better: Everyone has cybernetic implants in various states of disrepair, and you learn from looking on computer terminals that many veterans have been cut off from the benefits that’d allow them to stay functional.
Observer also leverages 80s Cronenberg-style body horror, extrapolating just how bad an idea it could be to mix old and new flesh, especially with no regard for anything but corporate profit margins. Sometimes, you have to “hack” a person’s memory implant, and live through their entirely fucked up, glitched-out memories. These sequences draw on the team’s previous experience, with Layers of Fear (which consequently took a page from P.T.).
In one brain hack, I kept living through a former prisoner’s hellish, drug-addled experiences. I ran through the same rooms, heard the same screams. The same visual: an industrial shower head, dripping. Another had me wandering mazes in a corporate office so anonymous and hellish that it’d make Mr. Robot blush.
It’s feverish, nightmarish stuff, and packs a heavy punch.
Observer takes a lot of visual cues from Blade Runner (neon cityscapes, 80s computer screens, pigeons fluttering in the slums, rain everywhere), but mixed with this much darker, horror-tinged vision, it becomes something else, something far more powerful: Observer is an indictment of the techno-fetishism that movie inspired. Glittering cities are replaced with disgusting bathrooms, cyberpunk fashion swapped out for battered corpses and fucked-up cybernetics. Where pigeons fluttered above Blade Runner’s L.A. sprawl, dead pigeons fall through holes in the roofs Observer’s Krakow.
Kindly read the whole article because it’s great! I only quoted the stuff related to the aesthetics, but the rest of the article covers the themes that ties into our world’s shitty present.
also since this is the favorite aesthetic award, here are some sick-ass screens