By – Sophie Jones

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From the opening credits its clear Stasis is a game heavily influenced by famous sci-fi adventures such as Event Horizon, Alien and even Visceral’s Dead Space. This is not necessarily a bad thing but at times it does play like a well written fan fiction rather than its own project. One thing that keeps the game feeling individual is its commitment to showcasing shocking gruesomeness. Be prepared to perform a grizzly spinal operation, cut people’s hands off and witness the horrors of the spaceship to achieve your goals. This point and click adventure might have you reaching for a pillow to hide behind.

The story follows John as he attempts to find his daughter and wife lost aboard the Groomlake. After he awakes from stasis he soon realizes he is a patient on a research vessel owned by the evil Cayne Corporation. Unfortunately, for John the company’s unethical experiments have finally caught up with them and the ship lies dormant with the crew smeared over the walls. With the help of an ex-employee you navigate the desolate halls solving puzzles and evading the clone hybrids. All the while you are being tracked by the doctor who created these monstrosities.

By reading data logs around the ship you can find out an incredible amount of information about the company and what lies beyond the Groomlake. These are brilliantly written and paint a horrifically grim picture of the wider universe. Each PDA you find contains a different story which feels distinctive and fresh. My only qualm with this method of storytelling is that it’s overwhelmingly burdensome. In one room you could find up to 5 PDA’s each containing around 5 pages of solid text. This was sometimes a struggle to get through as it disrupted the flow and suspense of the main plot. In particular a set of 4 diaries just explained the events of 4 crew members and their romantic involvements. Although amusing to read it did seem repetitive and unnecessary.

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The narrative also suffers from clichés and plot holes. The main antagonist reads like a typical mad scientist who has no real motivation for being evil or for hating John. This therefore made it hard to believe certain revelations as they seemed contrived. Moreover, as the ending credits rolled I felt a little cheated as not only was it disappointing but a few many things felt unexplained or didn’t add up. That being said the overall journey was incredible and kept you guessing all the while.

Gameplay is the same as most point and click adventures, you solve perplexing mysteries as you move your way through detailed backdrops. To my surprise the puzzles were extremely fluid and for the most part logical. The only illogical enigmas cropped up in the final minutes of the game as everything sprinted to the finish and solutions seemed rushed and thrown together. However, most of the problems encountered felt necessary, believable, and the solutions weren’t outrageous or difficult to muster. This made playing Stasis thought provoking but not hindering. None of the sequences felt repetitive or overdone. I went from opening a door using a dancing hologram, to crafting a grappling hook and then quickly disabling gun turrets.

Throughout your journey there are various ways in which you can assassinate the protagonist. In one area I got too close to the edge of a clone tank and, before I knew it, I was being dragged into it and ripped apart. It’s these interactions that keep you on your toes and remind you that you’re never safe. Thankfully, the game is forgiving and checkpoints are always close by. After experiencing each death you’re rewarded with a trophy which is a nice incentive to try and murder John whenever possible.

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Nonetheless, it is worth noting is that there is no tutorial. As soon as you break free from the tank you are plunged into the world without a lifeline to help you on your way. This leads to a rather sudden learning curve as you only find out about certain mechanics later on. For example, I was half way through the game before I realized I could run.  As you can imagine this was rather aggravating as I had been dawdling through the beginning of the campaign needlessly. Also, interactive objects aren’t easy to spot. You might find yourself going back and forth for a while until you finally notice you can pick something up. After clocking some hours, knowing what can be scavenged and what can’t, does get easier but initially it isn’t clear and can trip you up.

The display is quaint with a neat inventory cache stored in the bottom left hand corner. Items are stashed here and at times these can be merged to create a unique object. However, this is where my praises deviate to a few nit picking issues. There is no map tool or quest log present. Not every project needs these but I would have preferred them in this venture as it wasn’t always apparent on where you had to go or what you had to do next. After leaving the game and returning two days later I had completely forgotten what I was doing and sadly there was no indicator to help me. In these sorts of titles it’s helpful to have these features at hand as there is so much to keep track of.

Stasis has a fascinating art style that manages to capture suspense and horror from a 2D isometric viewpoint. The atmosphere is outstanding! Every element of design contributes to the feelings of isolation and eeriness. Some sections don’t fill the entire screen leaving them suspended in a pool of darkness, this really makes your imagination accelerate into panic mode as you’re never sure what will be in the abyss when you proceed to the next room.  Likewise, the sound is on point as each distant scream or loud blaring of a radio catches you off guard and sends a chill down your spine. The cast are also voiced with enough conviction to keep you interested but minor characters can sound robotic as their sentences cut off early.

From a technical standpoint Stasis has a few flaws. When beginning the game I suffered awful framerate problems and the screen misbehaved shrinking itself into the upper left corner. However, after talking with the developers these issues were fixed once you set the game to run on XP (3) compatibility mode. This isn’t ideal but at least these issues have work arounds. Furthermore, certain objects didn’t respond when clicking on them unless you pointed at a specific area. One instance of this involved a pesky ladder which couldn’t be climbed until you found the right spot. Moreover, you can’t fine tweak any of the settings, the options only let you alter the brightness or volume.

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Conclusion – Is it Worth Your Money?

I thoroughly enjoyed Stasis. it was gruesome, intriguing and had logical puzzles. It was, however, an ode to the sci-fi genre and thus suffered from copycat syndrome. Most of its awe inspiring moments felt like they were just there to wink at other franchises, this led to several plot obscurities. With a run time of 10 hours, if you read every PDA, there is a nice amount of content. Nonetheless, this comes with a steep price of $24.99. For hardcore fans, I would suggest you pick this up, but for those who aren’t enamored by sci-fi horrors, you might be left with an empty pocket book.

STASIS Technical Summary:

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  • Time Played – 10 Hours
  • Widescreen Support – Yes
  • Windowed Mode – Yes
  • Resolution Played – 1920×1080
  • Bugs/Crashes Encountered – None
  • DRM – Steam, None if purchased through GOG
  • System Specs – Intel i7-4720HQ@2.60 GHz, 8GB Ram, Geforce GTX 980m
  • Control Scheme – KB/M
  • Game Acquisition Method – Review Copy
  • Availability – Steam, GOG
  • Demo – Yes: Alpha Demo
  • Version – 1.04.0928.1.06
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