You’ve just awoken from stasis on a hulking spacecraft you have no recollection of ever being on. You’re alone and horribly injured, clinging to life while attempting to find answers. As you meander down the corridors you find streaks of blood, entrails, and other less identifiable fluids, all painting a graphic and violent picture of desperation, leaving you with even more questions and a terrifying sense of wonder. Welcome to Stasis, a 2D isometric adventure game that feels and plays like it was ripped directly from the late ‘90s. Reminiscent of games like Sanitarium and Crusader, Stasis captures the feel and essence of popular older titles, but presents an attention to horrifying atmosphere and detail in the way only a modern title can.
Stasis is a game propelled by its story. Players will find that the majority of it is delivered via text-based methods like PDAs and on-screen prompts from computers and terminals, but some of it is found via audio logs and interactions with other living beings on the ship. Some of the story seems unnecessary, but players are rewarded for trudging along through the walls of text. Voice acting, unfortunately, is a bit hit-or-miss. There were a number of interactions that will no doubt have players rolling their eyes, but for the most part the story was surprisingly well-paced and felt like it had purpose.
"Stasis captures the feel and essence of popular older titles, but presents an attention to horrifying atmosphere and detail in the way only a modern title can."
At its heart, Stasis is a puzzle game. Players will interact with a variety of objectives as the game progresses that will challenge a player’s wit. Puzzles can make or break a game like this, but Stasis straddles the right balance of difficulty and logic that makes for a rewarding experience with each successive progression. Veterans of these types of adventure games won’t come across much challenge, but newcomers will surely enjoy Stasis’ unique brand of problem solving under duress.
When I said that Stasis looked and played like a game from the late ‘90s I meant it, and that goes for graphics, too. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, though. The pixelated artwork communicates the visual story very effectively, and the background environments are almost like detailed dark paintings (like a sci-fi Zdzisław Beksiński). A lot of the art-style and environments seem to borrow relatively liberally from films like Alien and Event Horizon, and I would have liked to have seen a tad more originality, but even in the face of familiarity one cannot argue that the designs were absolutely breathtaking.
"Stasis is a perfect storm. The game’s sound, graphics, story, and interactions all communicate an overall sense of disparity."
Sound plays a large role in stasis as well, arguably more than the graphics. Though the visual story lays plastered all over each and every room on the ship, the audio cues are where the real terror lies. The subtle music, the deep sounds of raspy breathing, clanging metal off in the distance, and creepy out-of-site shuffling all lead to the overall sense of discomfort, never allowing players to drop their guard. There are only two other titles that I can think of (Outlast, P.T.) that utilize sound as effectively as Stasis, and even then I think Stasis might have them beat. The sound in this is the reason this game is terrifying. That’s no small feat.
Stasis is a perfect storm. The game’s sound, graphics, story, and interactions all communicate an overall sense of disparity. It’s easy to get lost in its world, and it’s even easier to find yourself terrified of its surroundings, but Stasis never feels like it's a chore. There will be times when players are scared to progress, but it won't be because of any issues with the title’s mechanics. This game was totally off my radar, but I’m so glad I had an opportunity to play it. With October right around the corner, this is the perfect title to have some fun with when the seasonal horror itch comes a-knockin’.
Review by: Palmer Sturman | Reviewed on: PC