Stasis Alpha Build Impressions

feb2012-1t2jy9

Another indie game I’ve been waiting to talk about is Chris Bischoff’s Stasis. This one’s been on my radar for a while, but recently development (and/or its PR campaign) seems to have gone into overdrive with a kickstarter, Steam Greenlight campaign, and a playable alpha build.

Basically, Stasis is an isometric adventure game. The player character wakes up from a stasis tube on a derelict space ship, can’t remember how he got there, and has to find his family and escape. From there develops a conspiracy story as players explore and solve puzzles to uncover just what went down on this ship.

The “Something has gone wrong on a space ship,” motif is sorely under-done in video games these days in my opinion, at least since the days of System Shock and classic point n’ click adventures. The only thing on today’s hardware that comes close is Dead Space, which is much more streamlined and action-oriented. Stasis is atmospherically similar, but is just exploration and puzzle-solving, kind of like the older Resident Evil games but without enemies.

The game is even played on pre-rendered backgrounds that a console gamer would probably compare to classic RE or Final Fantasy VII. A PC gamer might compare it to Sanitarium or the original Fallout. It uses the same kind of fixed backgrounds but in full HD, which comes to great affect given the game’s atmosphere, probably the coolest thing about it if you ask me.

From the moment it boots into the main menu overlooking a stormy planet surface, Stasis as a cold darkness to it. Every environment is dimly lit by flickering computer screens and emergency lights. The sound design is one of my favorite parts so far. From the minute you start playing much of the information given to you comes from somewhat hauntingly robitic computer voices over intercoms. The computers you interact with to solve puzzles have a nice, archaic digital sound to them (like an 8-bit console game or a 1980’s PC) which even makes clicking around feel nice. Put simply, Stasis is a world I want to explore, which is a fine accomplishment for something supposedly put together entirely by one CG artist. To call it a horror game would be a bit of an overstatement, but Stasis does have its creepy moments.

The puzzles shown in the alpha so far are also pretty smart. You do collect and use items but it always seems to be related to information you find throughout the story in logs and journals — pretty similar to classic RE’s industrial problems waiting to be solved. The alpha also manages to give you a deceptively sizable chunk of the game, finally ending with a fairly suspenseful cut scene.

One of the most convincing things about Stasis’s validity as a project is the apparent devotion of the one guy responsible for almost the whole thing. I think I actually first saw videos of Stasis back in 2011 (possibly earlier), and now, with two years of work under his belt, Bischoff finally decides to launch the Kickstarter and Greenlight campaign (I think he started Stasis before either of those were a thing).

The fact that Bischoff did a countdown — a hype campaign leading up to the hype campaign, shows a lot of planning in promoting and getting his game made. Along with this came a relaunch of the website which itself is very nice, going so far as to link to several let’s play videos of the alpha. Some pretty deep world-building seems to be apparent too. Most impressively, Bischoff has already started updating the alpha with a patch and a Mac version.

This is one kickstarter I think has certainly displayed it’s worth backing.

BULLETS:

  • Pretty amazing story on the history of Witcher developer CDProjekt. http://t.co/apYFKkX3kn
  • I walk into a PX for the first time in a decade and find it still has an actual PC games section. As in, the PC games section is at least as large as any of the console sections.
  • iOS 7 Parallax Wallpaper Pack – bit.ly/1gsMkHz
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2 thoughts on “Stasis Alpha Build Impressions

  1. Chris (the developer) here,

    Thanks so much for the support!

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