Let’s take a look at … – STASIS

STASIS is a sci-fi point-and-click adventure game from The Brotherhood. Kickstarted back in 2013, STASIS received $132,523 of its $100,000 target, and today launches on both Steam and GOG. Inspired by the game Sanitarium, and made by a one-man-band Chris Bischoff over the past five years, STASIS promises a true, horror sci-fi experience. Let’s take a look.

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STASIS starts with an awesome, movie-like introduction, showing a ship flying through space. The music, art, and direction show clearly already that the title is not lacking production value. You wake up on an abandoned ship, fresh out of a stasis chamber, with no recollection of what’s happened. The last thing you remember is you, your wife, and your daughter were heading to Titan.

You are alone. Not only on the ship, but in regards to gameplay and problem solving; you are truly on your own. There are no goals, no objectives, and no tips on where to go next. Only through meticulous exploration of your environment, and taking careful note of your surroundings, and the scraps of information provided, will you be able to progress.

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Gameplay is typical of point-and-click adventure, and the isometric environments help pull you into the environment. The art utilizes pre-rendered 3D environments, with a gritty, film-grain like layer atop. It creates a very grungy atmosphere, that when coupled with the ambient backing track, and the terrifying sounds the ship makes, creates a very tense and uneasy feeling.

The music and sound in STASIS go a long way, and thanks to the highly successful Kickstarter campaign, two world class musicians, Mark Morgan and Daniel Sadowski worked on the project. Same goes for the excellent voice acting. The Kickstarter funds also allowed professional voice actors Ryan Cooper, and Rebecca McCarthy to join the project. All interaction is excellently narrated which goes further in immersing you in the experience.

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The game starts somewhat slowly at first. You’ve taken damage and are ill, so can’t move too fast. Your first task is to find medical help. You come across an old machine that can help, and the first puzzle presented is to get it up and running. This is a great example of how the game doesn’t molly-coddle you, and leaves it up to you. There are no prompts on where to go. No suggestions on how things work, you just have to work things out. There is a circuit breaker on the wall, and to learn how to use it you have to press all the buttons and see what happens. It’s authentic, and the sense of adventure and the unknown is great.

Information is gained by exploring items, and reading computer terminals. Often, things like this can feel disjointed from the task at hand, and somewhat superfluous. Asif you’re going out of your way to learn extra, non-critical information, but not with STASIS. Everything is relevant to the storyline, and you need to gather the information in order to continue. It’s just you, the operating system that runs the ship, and your intrigue.

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After more delving, and puzzle solving, you discover that you appear to be on a scientific research ship that’s been running for 50 years. How long you’ve been here for god only knows. As you explore the ship further things start taking a turn for the macabre. Corpses lie in empty corridors, screams radiate throughout, and shadows of creatures scurry past the edges of your vision. I’ve also come across another human, and have been instructed to leave the area I’m in immediately. Things are ramping up, and I’m looking forward to seeing where they’re taking me.

Narrative plays a large part in what makes STASIS great. Diligent reading and exploration will yield the greatest results, and you’ll get out of it what you put it. I think if you rush through it, just solving the puzzles in order to move forward, you might have a lesser experience.

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I’m about an hour and a half into STASIS, and it’s clear that a rich and well produced journey lies ahead. A grungy and rich aesthetic makes the environments real, and the excellent voice acting brings the characters to life. I love the fact that the game really leaves you in your own. It’s a true adventure game, not ‘Go Here, Do This, Collect That’. If you don’t have a sharp mind and approach the environment diligently you won’t get too far. For fans of adventure games, STASIS is a must-play.

Tl:dr – STASIS is a sci-fi, horror, point and click adventure game. With great production value, including the effort of great musicians, and professional voice actors, a fitting world is created to host the rich narrative. It doesn’t hold your hand, and it requires a sharp mind and key eye to progress. You’ll get out of it what you put in, and if you invest in it you will be rewarded with a great experience.

Rating – 8.5/10

Purchase – Steam £18.99 | GOG £18.99 (£15.29 with launch discount)

Trailer –

Let’s take a look at … – Interstellar Marines (Early Access)

Interstellar Marines is a science fiction FPS with quite the history. Currently in development by Zero Point Software, the game has been in development since 2005 under the working title Project IM. After being Greenlit in late 2012, a Kickstarter was launched to fund the rest of the game, but it unfortunately fell short of its target: $157,907/$600,000 was raised.

Since mid-2013 Interstellar Marines has been available in Early Access on Steam. That’s quite a run in Early Access! Let’s take a look.

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The official website states that IM will take you through three massive campaigns, taking you through mankind’s first contact with a sentient alien species. The gameplay currently available in Early Access appears to be the pre-cursor to this storyline. You play as a soldier who has been specially selected to join the Interstellar Marines, and you play through training.

On starting the game for the first time you’re greeted with an epic introductory cut scene. It looks great and production value is through the roof. It got me really excited to get playing! This quality carries right through into the game models and environments. It’s a looks great, and even in early access I had only a few very minor graphical glitches. The same can’t be said for UI. It feels empty, and unfinished. Not a fan, and I hope it gets an upgrade before the game leaves early access.

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My favourite thing about Interstellar Marines is how it feels. It’s solid and different than a lot of shooters. The closest thing it reminded me of was Battlefield. You feel more connected to the character, and movement feels real. It’s the little things like how your sight sways, and if you become out of breath they will sway more as you recover. Weapons give a lot of kickback, so you can’t just spray and prey. You have to pick your shots, and use your weapon wisely.

At the time of writing this article, the game supports keyboard and mouse only, so those that like to play their shooters with a controller are out of luck. I would however encourage those pad users to give the game a go with mouse and keyboard. You may find yourself pleasantly surprised.

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Up until this point Interstellar Marines has a good first impression. It looks pretty good, I like the controls, they feel solid, and the overall production is great minus some lacking UI. As we now come to take a look at gameplay however things ramp down a gear.

There are currently 2 campaign missions available, and both are training exercises that take place in quite small environments with equally small goals. Campaign 2 is longer than campaign 1, but they can both be completed in a short single sitting. There is also only a small collection of weapons available, and a single enemy. It’s all very sparse and demo-ey feeling, even for an early access title.

Alongside the 2 campaigns, and a tutorial level, there are a selection of scenarios such as survival and escape. These can be played in either singleplayer or online multiplyer, although I could only find a couple of multiplayer games live that were both for survival.

Gameplay itself is very unforgiving. The campaigns do not have any checkpoints, so if you die during the mission that’s it. It adds a real sense of fear, and make you feel very vulnerable which is great. It can be frustrating when a robot that you can’t see shoots you, and the mission re-starts, but I enjoyed the challenge. I was playing on normal, and it doesn’t take many bullets to kill you. There are also two difficulty levels available above normal, so I can only presume they are insta-death!

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I was unsure whether to include this next section or not, but since it directly affects you as the consumer I decided to leave it in. The advertising of the game irks me greatly. I understand that when selling a product you want to make it seem amazing, you really have to sell it. But Interstellar Marines has lists upon lists of selling points that just shouldn’t be there. Here are a few from the list of current features:

  • Shoot from hip or look through the Red Dot scope for increased accuracy.
  • Full-body first person character simulation (no more floating hands!) with a physics-based dynamic character controller.
  • Toggleable tactical flashlight for when it’s pitch black.
  • Toggleable laser to assist your aim (no crosshairs).

These are all standard things that every FPS has. It’s like selling a car and going ‘Look. It has wheels and doors.’ Well, it’s a car, so obviously it has wheels and doors, what else does it do? This may seem pedantic, but this sensationalism is seen throughout the Steam page, the website, and all promotional material, and the game does not live up to how it’s sold. On the website you’re painted a picture that you’re about to receive an epic ‘AAA-Indie’ experience, but that’s just not the case. Not yet anyway.

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What gameplay is there is solid, it’s just there isn’t a lot of it! I enjoyed my time with it, but have no reason to go back to it. If you’re a big fan of shooters you’ll find reasons to like Interstellar Marines. But given the development history, and its current state, I’m not sure I’d actively suggest it right now, but keep an eye out.

Tl:dr – Interstellar marines is a promising shooter with controls that feel great and make it stand out amongst other shooters, and an interesting sounding story line. Its main problem right now is lack of content, and according to plenty of Steam reviews updates just aren’t coming frequently enough. Fans of shooters will find reasons to like it, but for casuals I’d suggest waiting until further into development.

Rating – 7/10

Purchase – Steam (Early Access) (£10.99)

Trailer –