The future comes in many varieties. We have the vast uptopian galaxy spanning federations. We have the dark and depressing post apocalyptic wastelands of nuclear war. We have the glitzy but oppressive tales of Cyberpunk and repression. And then we have tales of deep space exploration where mankind spreads out discovering or creating unimaginable horrors whose only purpose is to get rid of the cancerous infestation of our species. Stasis squarely lies in the latter category. And with very good effect.
Stasis is an isometric point and click adventure game set aboard a disturbingly quiet research ship orbiting Neptune. Our hero, John Maracheck, awakens from suspended animation battered and bruised aboard the Groomlake. After seeking medical attention he starts to explore his surroundings hoping to find some clues as to where he is and why. And it doesn’t take long for him to discover a nasty truth about the ship. Owned by the Cayne Corporation it sailed off to parts outside of the government’s jurisdiction in order to perform questionable experiments.
Very early on John discovers another survivor of whatever carnage befell the crew and they work together to find his wife and daughter who must also be aboard. After all, a flashback shows that the three of them enter their own stasis pods aboard a quite different ship. They can only assume that whomever was in charge of the Groomlake ordered their…appropriation. For whatever dastardly deeds. Even by the time the credits roll you’re left with many more questions than answers. Which, honestly, is an effective use of survival horror narrative.
Stasis is a bit slow in building up the tension, but when the plot starts unraveling it gets intense. And there are several ways to die in the game. Two-thirds of the Steam achievements are just various ways that you can off yourself or letting the environment do it for you. Being the completionist, I had to get them all. And some of them…okay, most of them…are very gruesome and hard to watch. You’ll be treated to a lot of darkness in pretty much every definition of the word. There literally is no “happy ending” here. Just one conspiracy after another.
Other than the slow start and the isometric view (I’ve never really been much of a fan of that camera angle) I found very little not to like about Stasis. It had just the right amount of discovery while working to find your family and escape, learning everything that you can from bloody PDAs scattered throughout the admittedly rather large Groomlake. In fact, most of the backstory can be gleaned by these personal and duty logs. And it’s quite a grisly story to tell. Even if all the dead bodies weren’t enough to tell you to get the hell out.
All in all, if you’re a fan of survival horror sci-fi you certainly can’t go wrong with Stasis. It’s a relatively short and, for the most part, easy on the puzzles. While I did have a few spots where I had to look up a walkthrough or hint the majority of the experience was focused on the atmosphere and story. Which is what a good adventure game should be.
STASIS is our Crowdfunded Game of the Month for September 2015, be sure to check out the rest of our special coverage.