Looking somewhat like an old
style RPG, STASIS delivers a wallop as an adventure game while reminding
you of some of the better deep space shooters like Dead Space and System
Shock. While it strayed a little towards the end, it delivered one hell
of a grisly adventure.
STASIS takes place on the
Groomlake, a space research ship owned by the Cayne Corporation
decorated with blood and littered with corpses. John Marachek wakes from
stasis sleep, seemingly alone and in need of medical attention. Take
care of that, then tend to some ship needs, and then set off to sort out
where you are and what this place is.
It isnít a friendly place. Dark,
brooding, and bloody, with hints of horrible things Ė things that
happened and others that might be hiding in the corners. PDAs and
terminals are everywhere, shedding light on the lives of those that were
here, and the events they were part of. The further you explore, the
more you learn, and the true nature of the ship is revealed. The
lighting, the sound, the design all pull their weight, and everything
comes together to deliver the sort of atmosphere you would hope for.
The top down isometric view
works well. Some scenes are full screen, others shrunk to a small tunnel
or access tube in the middle of your empty black screen. This helps
build a closed in and claustrophobic feeling to many parts of the game,
further making the ship an unsettling place to be.
While seemingly little that was
pleasant took place on the Groomlake, it isnít constantly relentless.
While there are reminders all around you, you spend a lot of time just
poking about and working things out in order to move further through the
ship. There is tension, but it isnít such that you feel that every new
location is out to get you. To the contrary, itís generally just another
room, albeit a room where something unfriendly took place. This is an
adventure game after all, not a FPS.
The Groomlake and its events is
made all the more grim by John himself. He wants to find his wife and
daughter, a distinctly simple and human desire that stands out from the
inhumanity around him. He exhibits those same desires and motivations
throughout, grieving for the dead and the not so dead no matter how many
times he is confronted by it. It was a little melodramatic at times, but
made him a person you wanted to be with.
He is also very good at
conundrums and puzzles, and there are plenty. There are more of the
former, and most are well integrated into situations and circumstances.
Some, as always, were a little too opaque, and there were occasions when
I had implements which, for instance, would easily have opened a locked
toolbox (a drill and a crowbar, both of which had proved up to the task
already) yet I needed to find the key. On the whole though I was well
pleased, and some of the straight out puzzles were particularly good.
Give my regards to
John can die, and probably will,
usually the result of misadventure when trying to solve a conundrum.
There is a suitably gruesome splatter on the screen when this occurs,
and you get returned to the game just prior to the fatal moment. While
this occurred about half a dozen times, I donít think the deaths were
unfair, in the sense that a seemingly mundane task like opening a door
just happens to kill you. To the best of my recollection, there was
sufficient information around to suggest that if, for instance, you are
going to drill into a highly pressurised container of highly corrosive
stuff, there might be some things to do first to minimise the likelihood
of it ending up all over you. Do those things, and you wonít even know
that death was a possibility.
Some deaths come with a Steam
achievement. I got ones called dissolved, eaten, melted, fried and bang,
which tells you a little about what occurred. I avoided gassed, blown
up, shredded and crossfire, so clearly did the things I was supposed to
for those conundrums.
Time out Ė there were nine
ďachievementsĒ I wasnít even aware of dealing with suicide. Presumably I
could have turned some of the implements I gathered on myself, but John
was someone I wanted to help not hurt. He was also someone that didnít
want to give up. I got none of them, and canít imagine why you would
Time on - My favourite
achievement was far more mundane. I donít really see the point of them,
but I did enjoy getting a ďstompĒ, extremely reminiscent of Dead Space 2
and the way you went about searching that environment.
The whole game is played point
and click, and there is much to look at and explore. Hovering your mouse
over an item you can examine will produce a little subtitled description
of what the thing is or whether it contains anything of interest. None
of this is spoken, but speaking with other characters will be subtitled
and heard, and an image of the character concerned will appear top left
of screen. There arenít a lot of these (other characters to interact
with), but it is far from a silent game. The ambient sound is excellent,
from the noises of your actions, to the visceral squelch of falling
corpses, to the scuttly things behind the walls.
John does have to do some icky
things. A panel needs a retinal image to open so you can guess what you
need to do. Ditto a palm print. Surgery on your own back is a little
tense, and some of the visuals and events portrayed might be confronting
to some. It is horror after all.
But it isnít action, despite the
dying, or an RPG despite the look. As I said before, this is an
adventure game, with a few fatal turns.
I mentioned a couple of games it
reminded me of, and the makers themselves refer to games and movies,
including Sanitarium, Aliens and Event Horizon. You will likely think of
STASIS does what it does really
well. I had a few quibbles, plot wise (I would have ditched the insects)
and otherwise, but pretty much enjoyed everything it had to offer.
Grade: A minus
I played on:
OS: Windows 7
Processor: Intel i7-3820 4GHz
RAM: 12GB Ripjaw DDR3 2133 Mhz
Video card: AMD Radeon HD 7800 2048MB
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