back to article Observation: Slow-burn space HAL 'em up fires adventure game genre into the exosphere

Greetings, traveller, and welcome back to The Register Plays Games, our monthly gaming column. This time we head into low Earth orbit for a space whodunnit with Observation. But first let us fondly bask in the nostalgic glow of classic adventure games – the primordial goop to which Observation clearly owes its lineage. Oh, and …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Bethesda failed to apologise for the trainwreck that is Fallout 76, only announcing some content updates that should have been there from the start and (*groan*) a Battle Royale mode" - yay - Fallout Fortnite

    Feel for the devs, when an arbitrary date from marketing, and probably pushy PMs, causes minimal testing and functionality to be missed off.

  2. Cursorkeys

    No Steam? No Thanks.

    Another Epic exclusive then. I don't want another launcher, I have my games library on Steam and all my friends are on there. The April Fools launcher-launcher: 'A launcher for your launchers!' is becoming less and less like a joke.

    Epic's poaching of titles with huge signing bonuses (only if you're exclusive, can't have any pesky competition!) is beyond obnoxious.

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: No Steam? No Thanks.

      Right with you there, no Steam, no deal.

      Steam is the only platform that respects my hardware, my time and my money. All of the others try various things to lock my PC down to what their idea is it should be, and if anything changes then poof ! away go my games and I can re-download everything.

      In the worst case scenario, even a simple update can do that (glaring at you EA).

      So yeah, if it's not on Steam, to me it does not exist.

      1. Peter X

        Re: No Steam? No Thanks.

        Also, needs to run on Linux!

    2. Suricou Raven

      Re: No Steam? No Thanks.

      If it was on Steam, I'd buy it. But, as it is not... I'll wait for it to turn on on The Bay.

    3. GregC

      Re: No Steam? No Thanks.

      Yep, was sounding interesting right up until the "Epic exclusive" bit.

      Oh well, I've got more games waiting to be played than I have time for at the moment anyway!

    4. Graham 32

      Re: No Steam? No Thanks.

      I agree with the anti-Epic sentiment but not so sure about the Steam-only attitude here. I hope that's a Steam-is-the-only-launcher-I'll-tolerate thing.

      I'm perfectly happy with a download-and-run-it option as you get on some GOG games. In fact that's preferred because I can keep it forever and install it in the future for a nostalgia trip, just like I can with old CD-ROMs. I don't have to rely on Steam existing in the future, the publisher existing in the future, and the publisher not having an argument with Steam and pulling all their games.

      1. Joe W Silver badge

        Re: No Steam? No Thanks.

        Yes. Oh so much.

        Plus this gem: "impossible without a gamepad". You must be kidding, right?

        1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

          Re: No Steam? No Thanks.

          Yeah, my interest was piqued right up to this point. Just... why?

        2. AdamT

          Re: No Steam? No Thanks.

          I've played/completed this on PC with a keyboard and I'm not sure which bit this applies to ...

          Maybe my keyboard skills are just so awesome it didn't matter :-)

      2. Bronek Kozicki Silver badge
        Linux

        Re: No Steam? No Thanks.

        I have recently relegated Windows to second gaming platform here, and Linux is the primary platform now. Since Steam provides excellent gaming experience on Linux for lots of games, that's where we get our games from. If EA invested effort to make their games and launcher work as well on Linux as Steam does, I would consider buying from them. As the things are right now, I cannot be bothered to buy games which only work on Windows.

        And I am not a fanboy - it is simply that Windows is too much pain to maintain and has awful boot times (partially thanks to antivirus, which is not optional on this platform).

      3. Dave K Silver badge

        Re: No Steam? No Thanks.

        Fully agree. GoG's client is fine, works pretty well and is optional if you just want to download games from GOG's site.

        In fact two of my most favourite games in recent years saw prompt GOG launches (Witcher 3 and DOS2). Love being able to get completely DRM free versions of games legally....

    5. Bodomit

      Re: No Steam? No Thanks.

      This is exactly what GOG is doing with it's Galaxy 2 launcher (currently in Beta). I've not tried it yet but can honestly see the appeal, as PC gaming is going the way of Netflix with each publisher putting a hard border round their own little fiefdom.

    6. DropBear

      Re: No Steam? No Thanks.

      Stopped reading immediately at "Epic game". Sorry, don't care. I can just about get drunk enough occasionally to tolerate Steam, otherwise it's either on GOG (or equivalent) or I'm not interested.

    7. BinkyTheMagicPaperclip

      Re: No Steam? No Thanks.

      Given that Steam is effectively a monopoly, the only way Epic are going to gain any traction is by having exclusives.

      As far as I'm aware, Epic is less intrusive than Steam, which updates itself every five sodding minutes.

      Of course in most cases I'll choose to use GOG, without the Galaxy client.

      1. Irongut Silver badge

        Re: No Steam? No Thanks.

        Go read their privacy policy if you think Epic is less intrusive than Steam.

      2. Suricou Raven

        Re: No Steam? No Thanks.

        They could gain traction by trying to compete on price, or offering a better service. It'd be pretty hard to beat Steam on service though, as they have had years to refine their software and support process. That leaves price. If players can buy a game on Steam, or buy it on Epic for even 5% less, that would lure over a few customers.

        Epic achieved a few serious service screw-ups already though, by trying to establish a store before the technology was completed. Understandably - they made it into the big leagues with one super-hit game, but Fortnite mania will not last forever - they need to turn it into a long-term business before the chance is lost.

        1. Michael B.

          Re: No Steam? No Thanks.

          Even if the contracts don't allow discounts across multiple stores Epic could have side stepped this with a loyalty scheme, or some form of cashback.

    8. CountCadaver Bronze badge

      Re: No Steam? No Thanks.

      GOG have seemingly done one and it seemingly works well

      https://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2019-05-22-gogs-new-client-aims-to-integrate-all-your-games-and-friends-across-pc-platforms-and-consoles

      YMMV

  3. Rich 11 Silver badge

    Blast from the past

    * I was six in 1993 so give me a break.

    I was 29 but I still got stuck for days on end.

    1. macjules Silver badge

      Re: Blast from the past

      Unlike 1993's Myst, you won't get stuck for three months* because the puzzles are too obscure

      IIRC the infuriating final Selenitic age puzzle actually had its answer revealed in the Mechanical age. You just had to presume that everything had significance and write it down.

    2. Evil Auditor Silver badge

      Re: Blast from the past

      My theory was that Myst had some sort of frustration madness detector, probably through patterns of user input. Yes, I'm looking at you, underground train!

      I literally reached the point where I said to myself: one more move and I'm done, otherwise I'll turn nuts. And I reached the exit of this track system.

  4. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse Silver badge

    Thanks for the gaming update...

    Well looking forward to Cyberpunk, but it's not until next year so am looking for something to while away the time until it lands - so might give this a go or go back to Black Flag.

    Re Google Stadia : I saw the details for it when it was announced. I then saw an updated release on some of the details of it this morning and my opinion has shifted somewhat from "no thanks" to "abso-fucking-lutely no way I'm going near it!!!" Apart from the fact that it is Google (which should be warning enough) they are suggesting that the costs are that they either rape you and your data and inject ads (i.e. free) for a reduced 1080p level of service; or it's £8.99 for the "premium" 4k service which I fully expect to still be raping me for my data, and plastering my game time with ads - but in a cynically less intrusive manner. But after all this you then still have to pay full price for your AAA games on top of that, but with no guarantees that you'll still be able to play it next year, or stream it in the first place due to your crap internet connection or service contention. It's being shilled as "giving the consumer more choice" but the only thing this is doing is giving the publisher and Google more control over how and when you can consume "their" product that you have paid good money for.

    In summary, I hope it falls flat on its arse.

    1. Bob9911

      Re: Thanks for the gaming update...

      "rape you "

      Seriously, you equate Google analysing your data to being raped? You twat.

      1. elaar

        Re: Thanks for the gaming update...

        The word is common in 20th century US slang to mean "overpower" or "destroy". Its origins from the 14th century use it in the same way. There's no need to take it so literally, you twat.

  5. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

    Dammit.

    I had a not dissimilar idea for a game after watching the Supernatural episode that's shot from the PoV of the Impala.

    *Puts on Kansas*

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Dammit.

      I've always been an Infocom text adventure kinda guy. Grabbed their source code archive when it became available. Interesting stuff there. The needed development tools are available online and are still maintained (last time I looked).

      Kansas is great. One of my favorites (Yeah, I'm old, so what? :-D ) Released a new studio CD a couple of years ago and it's a good one. Still tour like mad too. Great shows.

      1. CountCadaver Bronze badge

        Re: Dammit.

        Decent tune, This is good also https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zSAJ0l4OBHM

  6. BinkyTheMagicPaperclip

    Interesting, but you're wrong about the adventures

    Obviously Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis is better than all the Monkey Island games put together. MI2 is alright, and the remake is technically excellent, but I'd still rather play Indy, or Sam and Max.

    Alternatively play through the Blackwell games which really are excellent.

    1. Suricou Raven

      Re: Interesting, but you're wrong about the adventures

      Highest point of the genre was The Longest Journey for me. Go play it.

      1. BinkyTheMagicPaperclip

        Re: Interesting, but you're wrong about the adventures

        TLJ is also fantastic, agreed. I'd place FoA higher, TLJ is a bit weak in the middle, but it's a lovely game with a great ending.

        Blackwell is way better than TLJ. I also need to get around to playing Unavowed.

        1. Suricou Raven

          Re: Interesting, but you're wrong about the adventures

          The worst thing about TLJ to me was the sequel. DF is... passable. It's ok. But it's not TLJ.

  7. BinkyTheMagicPaperclip

    BoTW2 will be the one thing that gets me to buy a Switch

    BoTW is damned awesome. I bought a second hand Wii U just for that and Lego Dimensions, and am loving it. It's an action RPG, so sometimes combat in the harder enemies is irritating, but the exploration and sheer scale of things to discover is first class.

    Despite having played an awful lot of PC RPGs I'd thoroughly recommend it.

  8. Will 28

    Great article - keep them coming

    Sure there may be differences on origins of adventure gaming, but I really liked this review. IMO I agree with you that the Monkey Island games played a part in the success of this genre.

    I haven't played Observation, but will check it out once it's not just on Epic, based on this review. Sounds like my thing.

    BTW. check out the Syberia games if you haven't, they are in my opinion one of the adventure classics that pushed the genre on a bit later.

  9. Blackjack Silver badge

    There are some free point and click games out there

    Of variable quality, sadly you will need to know German for a lot of them.

    Yes, Germany loves point and click games.

    Anyone here has played the Discworld point and click games?

  10. MonkeyCee

    Go Nintendo

    "fans were told that it would be delayed till next year to avoid "crunch" working conditions – causing Ninty stock to tumble 3.53 per cent. Capitalism is great. "

    Nintendo (and a lessor degree Sony) are pretty much the only large gaming companies that treat their dev staff well. EA and Bethesda shed staff at any opportunity, and crunch has become expected.

    When Nintendo has had a poor quarter, the board took paycuts rather than cutting staff or their wages.

    Hearing that they pushed back release dates for popular titles to avoid crunch just confirms this for me.

    They make good games and gaming experiences too :)

  11. StuntMisanthrope

    TechnologyUK

    So to recap on the United Kingdom's technology advances over the last decade. A failed banking system, a failed pension system, a failed political system and a failed investment system, a bust accountancy institute, a fraudulent cut and paste reseller, a big unfinished and measured hole plus a pink credit card. €bigwins #taudeltaoff

  12. somini

    The French did it first

    Controlling a human by playing an AI, by watching the surveillance cameras reminds me of a french game called Experience 112. I never got around to play the full really, only a demo that came on those gaming magazines. This was pre-Steam.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/EXperience112

  13. Ugotta B. Kiddingme

    Observation sounds a bit like...

    ... Bulkhead Interactive's interesting puzzler, 'The Turing Test' but from the opposite perspective - you are the human, not the AI.

    The person who provides the voice for the AI sounds remarkably like (but isn't) Jeremy Irons. And it's available on Steam as well as XBox Live.

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