The Station

Space walk with me.

From start to its somewhat expected finish, The Station had its hooks in me something fierce. Let it be known right now that I love a great story driven experience and The Station delivered in spades. Though a bit shorter than I would have liked, I was fully immersed for every single second of it.

Let's not beat around the bush here: The Station is what some may call a "walking simulator" or even a "story-driven experience." Whatever you call it, I call it a fun and thoroughly enjoyable time. The story is delivered through a series of relatively short audio logs, floating holographic messages, and optional documents that all come together to build this world and story.

All I will say about the plot is what you can pick up from the trailers and screenshots for the game. You are sent to a damaged space station that was manned by just a three-person crew. The station used to be cloaked and orbiting around an alien planet where the inhabitants of said planet are at perpetual war with each other. The three man crew you are sent to rescue were busy studying and observing the planet, even going so far as to take samples of some of the native flora and fauna. Your task is to find out what happened to the station, rescue the crew, and get out of there before the aliens find out about you.

The audio logs that provide a bulk of the story feel like perfect bite sized chunks that absolutely do not break the flow of gameplay. All too often I have found that audio logs in games like this go on for far too long. Meaning that you're just kind of stuck standing still out of fear that the audio would be interrupted by accidentally triggering something else. Thankfully this is not an issue with The Station.

The user interface, much like a few other elements of the presentation, is shown as a floating element in the game world. Hit tab and it pops up at your location, giving you immediate access to a map, any logs you picked up, your inventory, and allowing you to see your current objectives. It works very well in this futuristic sci-fi type of setting and allowed the game to keep an incredibly clean HUD. Some holographic computer terminals allow you to read some emails, chat messages, and documents. It's a very elegant presentation and a nice step above just popping up some text on your screen.

The presentation doesn't stop there either. Most of your interactions in the world are done by picking up and manipulating objects. It's a familiar concept for many people and it works well in this type of game. This object manipulation is used for everything from examining non-critical objects, to solving puzzles, and yes, you will also read various notes that flesh out the story further. A lot of these interactions are optional but they are a great way to learn about the game's universe, the station itself, and the non-playable characters. You can find out things like their backgrounds, their relationships, and their motives. All of which help to further immerse you, the player, in the story.

The story on board the station is one that keeps you on your toes and second guessing from start to finish. You have an inkling about how the game is going to finish but you're never fully certain. I find that type of storytelling to be one of the greatest things a writer can do, be it for a game, movie, or novel. I love it when a form of media can keep the story going at a brisk pace, keep the story interesting, and leave little breadcrumbs to make me want to keep going until the end. The Station nails all of those points with flying colors.

If you are worried about the game not having any actual "gamey" components, worry not. While The Station is very story rich it also features a number of puzzles to solve along the way. While none of these puzzles are particularly challenging, they are fun to solve and are often necessary for progression.

As far as the rest of the core game elements go, I honestly have no complaints. The game is very visually appealing. The lighting is fantastic and despite taking place on a space station, there are plenty of areas that offer unique visual themes. The game is made on Unity but it somehow avoided some of the usual Unity pitfalls of shoddy performance that many Unity games can suffer from.

The voice work is exceptionally well done. Given that you're in space, and space tends to be rather quiet, you may actually notice ambient sounds and sound effects more than you would in other games. Thankfully, the one-two combo of audio usually considered to be nothing more than background noise are spot on in The Station. Throw in some sparse but very setting appropriate music and you're looking at a well-rounded audio package here.

The character movement speed is great and yes, you are allowed to sprint if you so desire. Though I will say I found the decision to lock your character in place when opening or closing drawers or cabinets to be an odd one. Just make sure you take a step or two back ahead of time, otherwise you may find you cannot actually open a drawer all the way since your character is blocking it. This is a very minor complaint for what is otherwise a great game.

Unfortunately, the game is relatively short. It took me about four hours to complete with all achievements earned. The developers said that it should probably take most people about three hours to complete and given how I usually take my time with games like this that estimate seems to be spot on. As it stands, I haven't yet seen a definitive release price for the game. Of the three platforms that the game is coming out on (PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One), only the Microsoft Store had a price listed. That price is $14.99 (USD). I will leave it up to you to determine if $15 is a fair price for a short but extremely well put together narrative focused mystery.

For me, I'm all in. If you feel like picking up the game, be sure to grab yourself a pair of noise cancelling headphones. Then lower the lights a bit in your room. Get comfy and enjoy the few hours you'll spend in The Station. Oh, and while this isn't necessarily a horror game by any stretch of the imagination, it's very atmospheric. Though there is something to be said about that one sceneā€¦

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Additional Information
The Station (Developed and published by The Station)
Starting at $14.99 (USD) for PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.
Rated T for Teen
Game was reviewed on: i7-6700K at 4.5GHz, 32GB DDR4-2666, Nvidia GTX 1080 Ti, Windows 10 64-bit Version 1709
This game was provided to Total Gaming Network for review purposes.

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Attached Files