Back in 2017, Observer released. A cyberpunk horror/mystery game, it caught some attention thanks to its interesting story, great setting, and voice acting provided by Rutger Hauer. At the very least, I enjoyed my time with it. However, what if you wanted to shoot your way through the game? Then you turn to 2084, a genuinely strange remix that takes the locations, art, and assets from Observer and instead plays out as a fast-paced cyberpunk shooter. Is this a remix worth keeping an eye on, or should you stick to the original?
Created in 72 hours for a game jam, 2084 sees you moving through the same environments from Observer with a vague goal of finding and killing a boss. You're armed with a simple energy rifle that lets you fire both regular shots and lob grenades, and you also have the ability to dash to get out of a hairy situation. You're up against these weird zombie-like creatures that often come in swarms but can thankfully be brought down by just a few bullets. At first, this all seems like a typical FPS. Just one awkwardly plopped into a game world that wasn't designed for it. It's quite obvious that speedy FPS gameplay doesn't fit in Observer's world of slow-paced exploration. Often big neon arrows have been added to the world to point you in the right direction, mostly to keep the faster pace moving along.
Thankfully, it's not long before 2084's rolls out its biggest unique feature: hacking. Your gun can fire "hacking bullets" at specific electronics in the game world. Whenever you hit something with one of these bullets you'll have to play a real quick minigame, where you need to correctly enter some directional inputs to hack the device. At first, you'll use this to find health packs, restore ammo, or open doors. Eventually, you can also use it to hack turrets to shoot at enemies, wall panels to stun them with electricity, and even washing machines to turn them into walking bombs.
This leads to some genuinely fun and frantic fights. Having to dash through a crowd of enemies, hack a computer to keep them from spawning more, then opening fire on the hoard of zombies leads to a surprisingly tense encounter. There's also a handful of fun boss fights that test your ability to hack and shoot at the same time. I particularly loved the first boss, which just seems like a simple cube that sits in one spot spinning lasers but requires you to get smart in how you dodge the lasers while hacking. It's clever, and I'm interested to see what more can be done in a full game.
There is also a bit of a story, though I'm not really sure on many of the details. The most I can tell you is that you play as a woman named Laura Lofi who appears to be trapped in her apartment due to some sort of nanoplague. She's using a VR device of some kind to escape and... well I'm not really sure what. There are some hidden messages implying that someone is observing her for some reason. There are also some e-mails implying she's trying to get ownership of a company, but outside of that there are not many plot strings to latch on to.
Sadly, it's over before it really begins. 2084's campaign took me less than an hour to finish. Thankfully there is also an endless mode that lets you take on swarms of enemies in a bigger open room. There are a few new enemy types, such as a robot that fires lasers, and new mechanics, such as pads that launch you into the air if you dash into them. It can add a little more playtime to 2084, but this very much feels more like a pitch for a bigger game.
That's really the feeling at the end of 2084. The developers weren't kidding when they said they made it in 72 hours. If you treat 2084 like a remix or a mod of Observer then you'll probably find it interesting. If you're looking for a solid FPS, then 2084 has a blueprint that should be worth keeping an eye on in a few years. I'd love to see what this full game turns into, but when the prototype is this much fun then that's a really good sign.
TechRaptor previewed 2084 on PC via Steam with a copy provided by the developer.