Observer is a game about going through people's apartments – and ransacking their minds

Last year’s head-turning Layers of Fear was a dark and twisted evening’s entertainment. For Polish developer Bloober Team it was a start. Observer, a retro-futuristic game about mind-hacking, is what comes next. It takes what Layers of Fear began and cranks it all the way up. All that warped weirdness? It’s back in abundance. All that tense, oozing atmosphere? It’s everywhere you walk. But Observer is longer, richer and fuller than its predecessor – and it’s a real stunner.

Imagine 2084 as seen through the eyes of someone living in the 1980s. That’s Observer. Real, replicated buildings from Krakow, Poland, crumble – their walls coated in muck and murals. But the holes and degradation are digitally papered over by holographic projections, as if an architect’s blueprints were superimposed on top, projecting pristine exteriors that aren’t really there. It’s a destroyed future clinging onto a holographic lie.

It’s into this gorgeous grime you wake. Screens with bulky backsides flicker to life as a government handler contacts you, checking in. You’re voiced brilliantly by an apparently well known actor who I can’t place – or reveal even if I could. His gravelly tones and clenched-jaw dramatics suit the tone perfectly.

Mind-hacking has taken its toll on your character. You’re a guy who appears to have little going for him, a guy wedded to his work, a guy who sleeps in his car and you have to chug pills just to keep you on the right side of sanity. In other words, you’re a detective about as classically drawn as they come.