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Stasis Reviewed by Cyril Lachel on . Stasis is a smart and intriguing point and click adventure that merges science fiction and horror into one suspenseful package. Unfortunately, the game is marred by many of the problems common to old school graphic adventure games. The outdated graphics and repetitive setting won't be for everybody, but the story is full of fun twists and turns that will keep you glued to the screen. Rating: 71%
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Some people look up to the sky and dream about sailing through the stars and exploring new worlds. But not me. If Hollywood movies and science fiction video games are to be believed, then space is nothing trouble. When not fighting to survive before oxygen runs out or accidentally getting stranded on a planet with no hope for escape, you'll be putting up with aliens that literally burst out of your chest. No thanks.

As far as I'm concerned, John Maracheck is living my worst nightmare. He's a simple school teacher who thought he was taking his wife and daughter to Titan. But after waking up from a drug-induced coma, it's clear that something has gone terribly wrong. John is alone and stranded on a mysterious space station named Groomlake. He's desperate to find his family and find a way off the ship ... if there is a way off the ship.

With dead bodies strewn about and blood coating the walls, it's clear that something awful has happened on Groomlake. The power has been cut, the security protocols have been changed and all that remains are the victim's private journals, each more disturbing than the last. This is not a welcoming environment, and John knows he has to find a way to safety as quickly as possible.

With a set-up like this, you may be expecting Resident Evil in space. But forget survival horror, because this science fiction thriller is a good old-fashioned point and click graphic adventure game. It has more in common with Space Quest than Dead Space.

The good news is that all the horror cliches still work in the point and click format. In fact, the genre's deliberate pace made Stasis a lot more suspenseful than recent scary games. John is kept in the dark for much of the game, both in terms of lighting and knowledge. Neither he nor the player are quite sure what it is that killed all these men and women.

Stasis (Steam)Click For the Full Picture Archive

What should have been a simple trip from point A to B quickly turns into a nightmare where everything that could go wrong does. This sends John on a journey through the deepest recesses of the ship. Each new area ratchets up the horror, while also revealing new clues about what went wrong. This slow build up makes the eventual reveal that much more effective.

From the dim lighting to the unnerving industrial sounds, there's a real sense of dread to Stasis. Despite the point and click gameplay, I never felt safe while exploring Groomlake. This is not one of those graphic adventures where the hero is shielded from death, something I learned the hard way. Thankfully the generous checkpointing means you won't lose too much progress, but there's always that feeling that death could be around every corner.

Unfortunately, veteran science fiction fans will see many of the twists coming a mile away. John ping pongs from one predictable trope to another, surviving jump scares and the horrors of medical experimentation. The many areas of Groomlake are simultaneously creepy and familiar. While this makes for a thrilling horror experience, the side effect is that Stasis has a hard time carving out its own identity.

Stasis (Steam)Click For the Full Picture Archive

At least Stasis has learned a thing or two from three decade's worth of point and click adventures. I went into this game fearing I would have to endure the kind of nonsensical logic that made so many old school graphic adventures difficult to play. Thankfully that isn't the case, as most of the puzzles are grounded in reality. It may be a space station in the distant future, but you'll still need a drill and crowbar to advance the story.

Stasis also does a good job of keeping our hero in small areas. Not only does this ramp up the feeling of claustrophobia, but it prevents the puzzles from becoming overwhelming. When you're stuck in an especially difficult section, there's comfort in knowing that the solution has to be within a few small rooms. There's never that feeling that you missed an important item half way across the ship.

Despite being smart about the puzzle-solving logic, Stasis suffers from a lot of the same problems that have plagued point and click adventure games since the beginning of time. Even with the small areas, it's easy to overlook an important item and spend way too much time spinning your wheels. What's more, it's not always clear what the next objective is. The moment you get stuck in a puzzle or don't know where to go next, the game stops being scary and shifts to pure frustration.

Stasis (Steam)Click For the Full Picture Archive

It doesn't help that the overhead visuals make a lot of the locations blend together. While it makes sense that the space station would maintain the same basic aesthetic throughout, it made it difficult to care about seeing the next area. Even when the game attempts to add variety, it's not enough to keep the visuals fresh.

Modern gamers used to Telltale's cinematic brand of graphic adventures may find the throwback visuals in Stasis to be a bit bland. The overhead perspective means everything is small and occasionally difficult to see. Our hero lacks detail and only has a few select animations to express emotion. Most of his develop is told through a pop-up dialog window. On the other hand, the game's sound and music design does most of the heavy lifting, creating an atmosphere that is genuinely frightening at times.

Although it's occasionally derivative of other horror fiction and suffers from a lot of the same problems that plague most point and click adventure games, Stasis delivers a solid science fiction story with enough twists and turns to keep you glued to the screen. If nothing else, it reinforces my longstanding vow to never travel into space.
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