With the soon to be released free stand alone expansion to STASIS called CAYNE (more information on CAYNE can be found here), I thought it a good time to revisit one of my favorite horror gaming experiences in recent memory.
I played through STASIS in basically one sitting. It took around seven hours to complete.
What STASIS basically does is pay homage to various movies like Event Horizon, Pandorum, and Aliens(you will find Easter Eggs in the game demonstrating proof of these influences) while crafting it’s own fairly well written story. The dark and foreboding atmosphere in STASIS really sets the tone for what was, at least in my opinion, a stellar gaming experience.
The story in STASIS is centered around John Maracheck, who awakens from stasis to find himself alone. His wife and daughter are missing and the place he awakens in seems abandoned. The story in STASIS develops as John searches for his family while also trying to figure out how he even ended up alone and what happened to everybody else on Groomlake, the space base he now finds himself on.
As I mentioned in my intro, STASIS takes bits and pieces from many of our favorite sci-fi/horror films and melds them into an interesting story that manages to hold its own while being respectful of its influences.
Where STASIS really shines in this regard however, is with atmosphere, urgency, and a sense of potential doom at all times. Nothing comes easy for our protagonist. Unlike many horror based media, STASIS doesn’t rely on jump scares. It doesn’t need to. It draws you in due to the intensity and emotional attachment created almost immediately. You will definitely care about the protagonist and his plight. Moreover, you legitimately feel bad for him and are hoping for a positive outcome for all his adversity and perseverance.
Overall, there isn’t much negative with the story in STASIS minus my biggest peeve with all stories. Be they games, movies, or books: sloppy or poorly thought out endings are my biggest gripe. The ending in STASIS was in part very cool, but mostly, it was underwhelming. It did the game a disservice considering the quality of everything leading up to those final moments.
Overall, and despite my lack of excitement over the ending, I would still give this aspect of STASIS an 8.5 out of 10
The overarching sense of dread and foreboding in STASIS was in no small part due to the excellent artwork and imaginative use of isometric perspective. Without the stellar work and attention paid to even the smallest details, I think the effect would have been seriously diminished. Not only were the graphics evocative and interesting, but they truly laid the foundation for the entirety of STASIS. I was quite impressed with this aspect. The high end graphics of what currently is available in isometric gaming is on full display.
A solid 9.5 out of 10. Possibly the best graphics in an isometric game yet.
From a design standpoint, STASIS is definitely a linear experience. That isnt a bad thing at all. The sense of urgency you feel propels you forward, so the linear design actually works in the game’s favor from this standpoint.
Something I found particularly impressive is that STASIS proves the validity of the horror genre in an isometric and point and click game. It really does a great job of providing a fresh perspective on the genre, this only further kept me engaged as I played.
The actual puzzles varied from reasonably simple to surprisingly complex. A couple of the puzzles in STASIS were genuinely perplexing. Although with the proper application of logic and some solid trial and error, I found even the most difficult puzzles in the game to be solvable.
An exceptional 9 out of 10
The audio is fantastic as well, even if some of the basic sounds repeat themselves often. They still really work to flesh out the setting. Unsettling, shocking, unnerving, cryptic….all are excellent words to describe the sounds in STASIS…and yet, there are so many other adjectives that could be put into play here. Evocative is my favorite though, so I will close with that one.
A solid 8 out of 10 here
All told, this is an excellent game that is easily worth your attention. Even if you don’t love the horror genre, you might still like this one. 8.8 genetic alterations to mankind killing their progenitors out of 10. How do you get 8.8 genetic alterations? It’s science my friends…