Observation is a short story focused indie game where you play as the AI on board a space station where something has gone very wrong. All of your interactions with what's left of the crew and the station itself take place at first through fixed cameras inside the station then later little drone cameras you can maneuver about.
It's an interesting sort of premise where rather than the protagonist you are an observer of sorts. You start off with Dr Emma Fisher starting you up frantically trying to get the station running unsure what has happened or where the rest of the crew are. You as the station AI provide diagnostics and operate systems to help her all through the cameras zooming and panning about the various modules to access laptops or station equipment to get things running. At first you have access to only a few modules and are able to switch cameras within them but not beyond that. Soon you get access to the while arm of the space station which consists of a Euro/American arm a Chinese arm a Russian arm then a ring that links them with a central control hub.
As the game progresses you get access to the various arms and more and more cameras to switch between an access as well as the drone which allows you to get at places without cameras like the outside of the station.
As you go the story unfolds revealing what happened and why as well as a lot of background through crew logs and other details that describe how the station came to be where it is who the crew are and what their mission is.
All the while you accomplish little tasks usually by solving simple puzzles or little mini games while interacting with Emma.
It reminds me a lot of games like Firewatch and Gone Home and the excellent lone echo but with a little more interaction and a lot more suspense it's not a horror but definitely pulls elements form there. The somewhat claustrophobic station with it's tight spaces and dark lighting. It doesn't resort to the jump scares but just keeps that level of tensions of the vulnerability of the station with the unknown situation.
A big part of that is the soundtrack which has this ambient somewhat industrial electronic feel with heavily distorted guitars it makes it feel very oppressive and as the story plays out weird and weirder.
The visuals range a bit it does a lot with a little the distorted camera view filter does a lot to make it feel more real but then occasionally the lower budget nature shows through especially the faces of the crew. There are parts when the crew members faces are obscured by visors and I think I prefer it as it looks that much more realistic without the ok modeled faces they have. Most of the time it feels very real with the lighting and elements they've chosen that make the relatively simple sets and things work really well.
The voice work is pretty good the main character Emma is voiced well and the voice of the AI is right out of the HAL imitation school of voice acting a human voice but subtly not human in it's delivery.
I suspect this isn't a game for everyone it's fairly short and lot of its appeal is the story and the theme the 2001 or sunshine or alien type filmic elements.
I won't talk about the story as that would spoil things and the story is a huge part of the journey but the comparisons to 2001 are apt. It's a short game I finished it in an afternoon and not playing too hard there are a lot of addition audio logs to find and I think I got maybe half even tho I was trying to find everything not sure where I missed those. I really enjoyed it though the space theme with the suspense nature of the story was right in my wheel house.
At the moment you can even get it cheaper on the epic mega sale thing but it's not hideously expensive a 20 dollar full price tag.