STASIS is one of those Kickstarter projects that went for the nostalgic feeling. The ones that usually get most attention and love, because they promise a return of something that wasn’t done in quite a while. Some perform way above expectations (Pillars of Eternity). Some are better than nothing. And STASIS? Well, it does deliver on a lot of it’s promises and is certainly better than nothing. But by how much?
What, I feel, a lot of people expected from STASIS was something close to what good old Sanitarium was going for – a psychological horror point and click adventure with isometric view and a nice mix of pre-rendered and real-time elements. But with a more sci-fi horror twist to it all. It looked good, they got fantastic Mark Morgan (Fallout, Planescape: Torment, recent Wasteland 2 among other projects) to write music for the game and they did make some great looking pre-rendered backgrounds. On top of that, there is an intriguing universe and a story that fits just a perfect balance between disgusting and spooky at first, creating a certain sense of dread that not a lot of games manage to do. There’s a bunch of backstory text scattered around the game and the protagonist is given a lot of nice sound detail – a lot of his grunts, breathing and other occasional things are recorded and nicely used to make him feel alive and vulnerable.
But then, things start to slowly fall apart. Story becomes more and more reminiscent of Dead Space. And by that, I mean it starts to feel like a cheap Dead Space rip off. Some environmental things, background concepts, level design and character design and roles seem to be just “borrowed” from Dead Space without much thought given to how to implement it well within STASIS. Voice acting often times feels awkwardly amateurish, with some even non AI characters even seemingly voiced by text to speech. Cinematography and animations also don’t look very good most of the time. And the gameplay is just… Not great.
Now, point and click adventures always had potential issues in how they are built, trying to find just the right balance between the talking, puzzle solving, walking around, inventory management and other elements. And STASIS doesn’t really find that balance after the introductory parts. Things will feel very linear, areas extremely short, puzzles “just there” and even though a lot of things required from you being mostly logical, they never feel “natural”. The amount of detail given to the environments is just missing from gameplay design.
And when the game was coming to a closure the only thing I felt was light disappointment. Because for all the good sound design and environments and some of the nice ideas STASIS has, it felt so… unnecessary. So derivative of other games and stories, so amateurish in it’s own storytelling and game design, so not really worth the time spent. So did the game deliver? It was alright. I guess.
P.S. The creators announced a free game in the same universe called CAYNE.