Score: 8/10      |      FIRST-PERSON       |      SCI-FI MYSTERY      |      MILD THEMES

“I enjoyed the varying types of puzzles that required me to seek out solutions across the station as the story unravelled.”

The Station is a first-person sci-fi mystery game by developers of the same name. It was released on Steam, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One on February 20, 2018. Axion Space Agency are searching for life on habitable exo-planets. An unmanned DX700 probe has reported images and data of planet “Psy Prime”, a habitable world showing signs of intelligent life. This backstory was cleverly released in stages leading into the release of the game last year via website www.exploreaxiom.com.

The space station Espial has been sent on a mission to investigate alien life on Psy Prime. Three crew members make up the team on board Espial – Captain Mila Lexa, Researcher Silas Haze and Engineer Aiden Vyze. The Espial has cloaking technology that failed, and no response has been received by the crew in some time. You the player, a recon specialist, have been sent to discover what has happened on the station.

The movie Event Horizon has taught me never to feel safe in space and to expect the unexpected. Everytime a movie or a game has a space station that has gone dark and the crew is missing, it’s sure to be a tense experience so I always prepare for some jumps, and this got me a couple of times! The Station starts with the player boarding the station and met with silence. There is a closed door in front and a power cell on the floor.  Picking up the cell and placing it into a wall unit powers the door and initiates a scan. Once inside, a new objective is added ‘locate the crew’, starting your discovery.

There is so much visual detail in this lounge section and throughout the game. To my left I could see a break-out area with a couch and it looked like the floor was missing as all i could see was space. I am afraid of heights in real life, and as I cautiously approached the floor of this section I felt a bit of fear creeping in. Thankfully and obviously there was glass floor and so i felt a little safer, but still on edge. I was impressed by the graphics and how smooth it was running. There are items that you can lift up and look at and an audio recording that I listened to. These audio recordings and messages spread throughout the game help to tell of the relationships between the crew members.

I discovered a door that was powered down. A message pops up showing brief text dialogue between Mila and Aiden explaining maintenace is required on the door and a short, sharp response from Aiden. Exploring further I found the maintenance hatch and switched the power off. I looked over and could see the door could now be opened however the rest of the station was pitch black. Not feeling comfortable about this I turned the power back on and then went to walk over to the door, and looking down on me from the platform above was someone with a torch which made me jump. As I moved to approach them, they turned and ran away. Ok, so now I’m on edge! Are they one of the missing crew, and if so, are they hostile? If not … aliens! Damn you Event Horizon!

As I started to explore more and interact with objects, I thought this would make a great VR game (the developers have indeed made a VR version which actually comes out this month). I came across varying types of puzzles, some of which I couldn’t solve straight away so had to keep an eye out for any clues. Other puzzles were clever in that I had to use some machinery to pull down a box of items, then review the items for non-faulty ones which required the power to be turned off as they glowed in the dark, or to use a magnet to pick up working components. I spent a fair amount of time inspecting every corner of every room, reading notes left by the crew, listening to audio recordings and emails/messages left in each crewmember’s rooms. Here is where you start to piece together some of the story puzzle.

I particularly liked the engine room puzzle where I had to follow lines of power cables to a control panel that featured a set of icons. Entering those icons into another panel would then fill up a power cell, but the engine needed two cells to be reset, and then had to search for a working cell. The augmented reality map within the context menu was very helpful in this regard as I was running back and forth between several rooms, trying to find more clues. As I was settling into this routine, bam, another scene made my jump and reset my scare-meter.

As the story elements started to click in my mind, the music and sound intensifies as I discovered what happened to the crew members and why they were in this situation. Just as the intensity ramps up in a thrilling sequence, the game finishes and the credits roll. It was 2 hours of fun but over so quick and abruptly. Looking at other people’s times in the Steam forums, my 2 hours was longer than many others.

Overall I gave the game an 8/10. I enjoyed the varying types of puzzles that required me to seek out solutions across the station as the story unravelled. It was a shame for the game to be over so abruptly, however the story was well told and concluded with not many questions left unanswered. The voice acting was great throughout and the visuals were stunning. Is it worth the full price of $19.99? Given the short length, I’d suggest getting it when it’s on sale.

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