STASIS

Developer: The Brotherhood | Released: 2015 | Genre: Adventure, Isometric

This game had the most excellent sinister atmosphere with a great background soundtrack to go along with it. It reminded me of both SOMA and the old In Cold Blood – both great games to be associated with.

It also felt quite oldskool, like it belonged in the same time period as that latter game. The lovingly detailed isometric screens were static and flipped to the next by the exits. A quantum inventory could be brought up from the bottom left corner, and it even had manual save games. Pointing and clicking was as simple as doing just that. Sometimes I could view a PDA, or a console with a few commands (or a puzzle).

The story took place on a dilapidated spaceship, almost abandoned, with skinned corpses to be found and bloodstains everywhere. You probably know the drill. As the flappable protagonist John, I woke up when a stasis tube broke. I was slow and prone to a cardiac arrest. After getting fixed at a medical bay close by, I could run when double-clicking the exits. John had a wife and a kid. Where were they?

Time to go searching for them.

I really liked that the majority of the game was relaxed regarding exploration. No stressful countdowns or aliens hunting you down all the time. Plenty of time to search for hotspots, combine inventory items and read PDA diaries. I was on my own for an hour or two, then I got in regular contact with a woman in my headset. She wanted me to find a tram in one of the lower levels and fix it.

I’m not going to spoil more of the plot here, but if you want to play this excellent game, I recommend always trying to combine everything in your inventory as soon as you get a new item. It only takes a few seconds, and sometimes a combination doesn’t always seem logical at first. Also, pay attention to the small notes and stickers around the terminals you use. That’s going to be important at one point.

Spoiler: Details

  • I was afraid the slow walk in the beginning was it – but John just had to get a surgery first.
  • I liked that deaths had achievements. That actually made me want to seek them out.
  • The vats were a memorable moment, and also one of the most dangerous places in the game.
  • The methane switch puzzle was good – I just had to pay attention to a wall earlier.
  • Also liked placing the holographic dancer in front of the motion detector. Very logical solution.
  • Wasn’t too fond of the gun turrets when they popped up, but thankfully there was not a lot of those.
  • Probably the hardest puzzle was the chemistry levels for pods. Really had to pay attention.
  • Spine surgery was a tough watch. I kept clicking red dots on the screen – that seemed to work well.
  • Sometimes the queen bug ate John, sometimes I got the thing. It seemed a little random.
  • Getting Elanore to light up the place with a flare was a nice touch. Great way to get some distance.
  • I was afraid the gun turret robot would be frustrating, but the solution was easy and logical.
  • Dad smashing on the window and still losing his kid was sad, and it was well cried by the voice actor.
  • Te’ah turning bad in the end was so very predictable – quite the cliché there.
  • The visitor center was a nice change but should perhaps have had some animations too.
  • Not fond of the boss fight having retries that included sitting through the same dialog again.
  • Luckily the boss fight was short and easy. I figured it out in the second attempt.
  • I’m really impressed so few people made this game. They must have been multi-artists.

Pros

  • Excellent graphics, atmosphere and background sounds.
  • A nice jump back to oldskool gameplay with static screens and manual saving.
  • Mostly relaxed adventure-point-and-click with few frustrating moments.
  • Good voice acting all around.
  • Most of the puzzles are logical, they almost always make sense for solving a problem.
  • A few epic moments of things exploding or vehicles smashing through walls.
  • Rarely overwhelming – typically you get access to 3-6 rooms at a time.

Cons

  • A bit too many PDA’s, each with a lot of diary sessions to read.
  • As far as I can see, there are no multiple endings – that could have been nice.
  • Cliché bad guys – no real surprises there at all.
  • One nitpick – could have been sweet if the inventory had been visible all the time.
  • A few cliché jump scares – then again, there’s not a lot of them.

9/10

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