Horror games come in all shapes and sizes. But the one thing that they all have in common is that they have that little something that makes you feel fear. In Stasis, it’s the fear of the unknown. Fear of whatever is out there that murdered pretty much the entire crew of the Groomlake. Fear of making it out alive with or without your beloved family. Fear of losing everything. Those are what make this game stand out among the other titles in the genre. You just don’t know what you’re up against until the late game, and even then you’re never fully certain what transpired.
We’ve seen this type of story before. It’s pretty much the basic plot of any of the Aliens films and games since the first one. It’s the basic plot of quite a few sci-fi horror media. But, what exactly makes Stasis stand out and make the genre its own? I’d tell you in detail, but that would spoil the fun. To put it bluntly, the horror is manmade. There are no aliens out to eat us, no predators out for our blood, and no robotic beasts out to terminate our lives. And, just like the beloved classics you rarely see the monster until it’s too late.
Stasis is, for the most part, a solitary experience. You hear the voices of others, particularly your “guide” and the one that you can only assume to be the madman behind the horror. You hear the voices of the deceased crewmembers via their PDAs strewn about the ship. You see the carnage caused by the vices of man and his lust for power. But you rarely see the results of such nefarious experimentation. It’s mostly you versus the ship and what’s left of its past deeds.
And that’s what makes horror so pervasive. It’s not the in-your-face gore fests that seem to be the rage in Hollywood these days. It’s the threat of coming into contact with the horror itself. You very rarely come face to nasty face with it. And if you do it’s usually too late. It’s the fear of losing your mind as well as your life. It’s seeing and hearing things that aren’t there. It’s chasing shadows and jumping at the sound of gas escaping a broken vent. It’s seeing the blood and bodies without seeing the thing that did it. It’s psychological as well as survival horror. All wrapped up in a twisted technological future.
Throughout Stasis you’re constantly reminded that you’re not alone. You see the results of these grisly experiments to make…well, I’m not giving it away but the revelations are indeed shocking and nauseating. Good luck in escaping the Groomlake because it won’t be a cakewalk. You’ll be forced to do things no person should be forced to do…see things that you should never have to see. And make choices that have no good outcome. And that’s what separates good horror from great horror. The classics are classic for a reason.
STASIS is our Crowdfunded Game of the Month for September 2015, be sure to check out the rest of our special coverage.