Saturday, 7 December 2013

Stasis - Preview

Stasis is an isometric* 2D point-and-click game that combines sci-fi and horror in a way that made me feel as if I’d stepped directly into Ridley Scott’s Alien.

Before I even go into the gameplay itself, I have to mention how goddamn beautiful this game is. Seriously. Using impressive lighting, or rather, shading – it is a horror game, after all - and a sleek, futuristic 2D art style, Stasis looks every bit as modern as a game set in the future should. Unfortunately, the better it looks, the more realistic the gore looks, so I hope you’re not squeamish.  

After I was finished gawping at the style, I took control of John Maracheck, who is rudely awoken when his stasis pod fails, spewing him to the floor in a mess of glass and strange fluids. The last thing he remembers is that he and his family – a wife and daughter – were all together, and now they’re nowhere to be found. There were other stasis pods nearby, but no-one John recognises, and so I left the room worryingly marked ‘Product Storage’.

For a while I seemed to be the only one on board the eerily quiet Groomlake, a scientific spacecraft of some kind, and the silence soon had the hairs on the back of my neck standing on end. So much so that each sound the ship around me made, I jumped. A door opened, I jumped. A door closed, I jumped. A robotic voice informed me that I had internal injuries and multiple broken ribs, I jumped – and limped.

I almost miss the stasis pod.

During this snapshot of Stasis, I also saw the kind of puzzles that will be present. The first 
problem that needed solving, and quickly, were the serious wounds John had sustained from the broken stasis pod. This involved getting power to the diagnostic equipment, which proceeded to supply the medicine and syringe that I would need to survive. Opening my inventory, named the ‘Quantum Storage Device’, I then combined these two items together and stuck the syringe into John’s arm, which seemed to numb the pain.  

I imagine that a number of puzzles throughout will require such a technique, and I’m certainly happy to be given an excuse to keep using something that sounds as cool as the ‘Quantum Storage Device’.

As I further explored the different areas of the vessel, there were numerous computers and digital journals that I accessed in the hope of finding out more about where I was and what I was doing there. The more I read, the more obvious it was that Groomlake was designated to scientific research. Though I couldn’t discern the exact nature of this research, after finding child-sized corpses and a machine designed for “organ harvesting”, I guessed that they weren’t entirely legal, and definitely not humane.

I guess the receptionist is on break.

You might be thinking that point-and-click isn’t your thing, but if you like Dead Space in any way, you’d like Stasis. From the gore-stained walls and floors of the silent, but far from empty space vessel, to the unexplained events unfolding in front of John Maracheck, a persistent Ishimura-esque vibe can be found here, which is a big plus in my horror-loving books. Not only that, but there’s also a tram and a Dr. Isaac – possibly named after Isaac Clarke, the protagonist of the popular series.

From the alpha demo I have begun to understand the kind of polished experience that Stasis has in store for gamers, and believe that Bischoff will take the very best of each of the game’s influences to create something entirely new. It’s been a while since I headed into the dark abyss of space in order to rob myself of sleep, and now that the game has been fully funded on Kickstarter (with 15 hours still to go at the time of this post!), it looks like that’s exactly what the future holds. Well, that and large, human-harvesting scientists.

*In case you were thinking, “Isometric sure is a cool word, but what the hell does it mean?”, like I originally did, it’s defined as: “being equal in dimensions as well as measurements”. It applies to the style of the environment, in which everything appears to occupy the same level of depth... I think. Hm? I made it more confusing? Oh.

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