If you’ve read any of my articles here on Cliqist, you’ll know I love point and click adventure games. Browse my Examiner write-ups, and you’ll discover that I have a soft spot for the sci-fi-horror subgenre. As such, I loved Stasis. Its artwork is something of a video game-cinema conversion.
A 2D isometric point and click title, Stasis embodies many of my favorite sci-fi classics. The opening sequence features the ominous spaceship Groomlake floating eerily, in a scene seemingly plucked from “Alien” or “Event Horizon.” The long panning shot could easily be mistaken for the Nostromo or the Lewis and Clark.
Inside the Groomlake, it’s a neat mix of futuristic tech and everyday objects. The interior of the ship oozes with inspiration from the visionary H.R. Giger. Gargantuan rooms are loaded with surrealist decoration: pipes and tubes cling to the walls in a lifelike, menacing fashion. While each room might not actually be that large, the isometric, top-down view lends the appearance of being in a cavernous setting.
Separation from the player puts a greater emphasis on horror elements. Unlike Alien: Isolation, which I adored, I never really felt threatened. Rather, atmosphere manifests a persistent creepiness, largely shaped from the physical environment. Almost each room of the Groomlake lies in disrepair, and the derelict condition of the ship is pretty haunting. An abandoned wheelchair in the infirmary or empty crib establish an eerie setting.
The animation walks a pleasant line between realism and cartoonish graphics. However, these aren’t the friendly, goofy cartoons rampant across the airwaves in the 90’s. Don’t expect the Ninja Turtles to go cowabunga-ing across the screen. Rather, Stasis opts to focus on minute details instead of uber-realism. It’s a successful endeavor that actually makes the game more frightening than pure eye candy visuals like Infinity Blade or Ryse: Son of Rome.
Ultimately, Stasis’ art plays a massive role in fostering a sense of suspense. Spoiler alert: as a point and click adventure game, there aren’t really any moments where you as the player feel in danger. I did die a few times, but my demise arrived in the same fashion of death in games like Broken Sword. Sure there were a few jump scares, one of which sent me a few inches in my computer chair, but much of the actual horror is simply the grotesque, vividly-detailed Groomlake interior. While hovering your mouse over various in-game elements, like blood or decrepit lab equipment yielded Kburickian descriptions, often the not knowing presented more horrific possibilities than monsters and gore. The art in Stasis is gorgeously haunting, and it’s worth playing just for the setting.
STASIS is our Crowdfunded Game of the Month for September 2015, be sure to check out the rest of our special coverage.