Statik

My biggest fear is being locked in a small room with no way to escape. I am in other words, claustrophobic, and this is the reason why elevators always make me go for the stairs instead. Yet, I love media dealing with this, as it is an effective way for me to get immersed and face my fear in a more comfortable environment. This also includes Escape Room, which is a fun way to actually help me calm down, as it shows that even in bizarre scenarios, you can escape. Similarly, Statik helped me in this regard.


Puzzle-handcuffs

Set in an experimental lab, you play as an unnamed protagonist being trapped with different box-cuffs put on you for each session. You are not sure why, and the game does not linger much on giving you a clear plot, just mysteries around it with one doctor explaining the situation as far as he cares to. The story is really there to only give you a sense of atmosphere and is easy enough to digest and be left as a minor element, so I will leave it at that and jump straight into the gameplay.

In this puzzle-game, you are put in different rooms where you are cuffed with a weird box that you will have to solve. Think of it as your hand being stuck in a bizarre form of Rubik’s cube that has increasingly more difficult puzzles to be tinkered with. As you sit with the VR-headset, you hold your controller in your hand, which is represented as the box your hands are trapped in trough the game. By turning it around, and pushing buttons or using the analog-sticks, you are activating different mechanism on the box, trying to solve it with what might be a sensible procedure. It is a really cool concept where you try to find the logic of the box and how to solve its puzzles, such as what numbers must be dialled on one, or how to get to play a cassette.

Though this is not where the VR comes in. Instead, by looking around, you can find visual clues on how to solve a puzzle, such as certain hidden combinations. It is really intriguing how you must look around carefully, and think of what might be a logical way to get you out. There are 9 puzzles in total, with all being truly interesting. The difficulty curve can be uneven, but never in a sense that it gets too easy or too challenging. Rather in comparison to each other, some are easier or harder than the previous one, but since all provide a good brain-tease,  this is a minor issue.

Breaking up these puzzles however, are two other segments. The first one is about giving positive or negative reactions to sounds, images and similar, and these are decent, but never really brought up again and feels more like an atmospheric inclusion than anything significant. The same goes for a cube you will assemble in your sleep. It is again just there for a form of solving a weird puzzle. Though this does not hurt the game, and while Statik is short due to these few puzzles, it provides a good variety of boxes to solve and enough lasting appeal and challenge to be satisfying to get through.

Gameplay Score: 8/10 


Sterilised, yet eye-catching

Each puzzle-segment dealing with the box puts you in rooms that are slightly messy, yet uncomfortable since you are not able to see the outdoors. It is an interesting setup, where you cannot really escape or even know where to go to. Everything is sterilised, which is good as it makes colours pop up more for subtle hints, yet makes you feel hostile, like the experimental subject you are in this facility. I am also intrigued by how the only form of human interaction, is with one that you cannot see because his face is blurred, making you question: what is really going on?

The sound-effects of machines and the cuff-box makes, are diverse and highlights the lonely tone this place provides. The only voice you will ever hear, is the one of the doctor doing the actual research, and it is impressive how his voice alone can create an uncomfortable, yet professional tone. He clearly has a love for his machinery, yet not really for you. His voice is calm and dark, but unclear in whether he is fascinated or dulled, as the tone is never really clear, making the atmosphere more unsettling. This is also highlighted by that this is the only voice to trust since there are no other humans nearby. However, I do wish for more diverse locations, as you are probably in the same floor all the time. The locations are still unsettling and contain realistic setup, but the variety is not grand which could have been better used to confuse you on where you are located, adding to the fear of what is to come next. What is here however, is still effective and adds to the VR-experience.

Presentation Score: 8/10


Verdict

Statik presents an interesting VR experience that provides bizarrely logical puzzles in a hostile, yet calm environment. It can get uneven with its atmosphere and difficulty, though never to the point of providing a poor curve, just unbalanced and it could use just a slight more of everything. It is like getting the perfect mocha, but no biscuit. 

80/100

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