What would you do in HAL 9000’s position? Beyond venting everyone into space, I mean – that’s the question that Observation looks to be posing. Announced today and due out early next year, it’s a sci-fi thriller from No Code, creators of the excellent Stories Untold. Similar to their previous game, it’s an adventure where you’re cleverly limited in your interaction with the world. In Stories Untold it was because you were using mechanical and computer interfaces – in Observation, it’s because you’re a space station AI. Check out the debut trailer below, hosted by IGN.
The trailer reminds me a bit of the better FMV adventures of the early 90s – the ones that did creative things with their interfaces, often putting you in the position of a remote observer. Something has gone very badly wrong in space (as it does in most fiction), people have gone missing and it’s up to you to help space-scientist Dr. Emma Fisher get to the bottom of it. Being part of the station, you’re limited to seeing only through active cameras, and can only interact with systems that you’re authorised and programmed to run – a fun set of limitations.
Of course, this wouldn’t be a story about an AI without the possibility of your own perspective being questionable or possibly manipulated by outside forces. The trailer features the message “BRING HER” being displayed on your internal monitor at one point, suggesting that you may have an ulterior motive. It’ll be interesting to see whether you have a choice in following this directive or not. I’m just excited for an adventure that looks to really capitalise on the dark, isolating void that is realistic space-adventuring. It’s no place for humans – how will an AI cope?
Observation is published by Devolver Digital and scheduled for liftoff in Spring 2019. You can see a little more of it on its Steam store page and official site here. As an aside, Stories Untold is currently 75% off on Steam, bringing it down to £1.74/€2.49/$2.49, a price I wholeheartedly recommend it at even if you’re not usually a fan of point-and-click adventures.