Space is massive, dark, and deeply unsettling. It’s a great place to set a creepy story driven exploration game where the player doesn’t know what to expect around any corner. Of course a large part of this hinges on having them believe that there is something worth finding in the darkness. This is my primary concern with Kickstarter campaign for The Station.
Seeking a modest funding goal of $7,379 the game shows a great deal of promise, but currently lacks the substance to convince me it can deliver. The Station has fantastic graphics and environments with an intriguing premise. The campaign however, feels like it’s missing a key ingredient.
The Station tells the story of a space station (surprise!) sent to study a newly discovered alien civilization. Axiom, the company behind this discovery, sent 3 crew members along to see if there could be hope for peaceful relations with the new lifeforms. Once they arrive the crew discovers that the alien civilization is in the midst of a civil war.
Shortly before the conclusion of the mission the space station experiences a major systems malfunction. As the station drifts helplessly above the hostile alien world, Axiom is unable to contact the crew. A recon specialist is dispatched to discover what happened.
Playing as the recon specialist puts gamers in position to explore the station and learn about the crew. It sounds exciting, at least until you watch some gameplay trailers.
The more I watched the more I noticed a distinct lack of an active threat. The player character casually wanders the station. Weapons and items are picked up and rotated before being carefully set back down. We hear noises and occasionally are given hints that we are not alone, but it’s never explicitly explained if we are actually in any danger while we piece together the story.
What Are We Doing Here?
Now, this ambiguity could be by design. Unfortunately, none of the current media gives a clear answer about what sort of gameplay mechanics potential backers can expect. This is a problem since people looking for a survival horror feel might not be happy to receive a purely exploration driven narrative instead, and vice versa. I understand not wanting to reveal the whole story right away, but players should know if they will be hiding, fighting, evading, or reading the whole game.
An interesting additional component of the campaign is the Alternate-Reality Website where players are given more insight into The Station. The website details Axiom’s public updates regarding their mission to study the sentient alien civilization. It’s a way to increase immersion in the story. It’s a clever idea for lore building, but feels a bit distracting when coupled with the lack of gameplay information.
A few solid updates could clear up all of my concerns. Hopefully we’ll get more information from The Station developers. Then backers can have a better idea of what they are getting themselves into with this campaign.