Review: The Station
The Station takes you on a journey on a space station full of puzzles and while it has a lot promise and some fabulous ideas of solving them, it falls flat a couple times and it simply ruins the experience.
The opening of the game is great, a lot of thought and love has gone into this, the game presents very well. Shortly after your arrival you realise something has gone very wrong here, but not what. Your job is to find out what happened. You need to find the crew, repair the station and get back control. You walk around the station all alone and rarely gets to see any other life forms – you’ll see some alien fish, pictures, descriptions and on occasion, someone in a space suit turns up behind some glass and looks at you, just to run away from you.
Read between the lines
There’s lot of details to find on the station and a lot of collectibles and lore to pick up in form of notes, recordings and drawings. Puzzles are cleverly put together, and I had problems getting through some of them – I‘ll mention more about this below. The notes unveil problems between the crew members, an affair and how their daily life was and how they dealt with each other.
Apparently the crew was on a surveillance mission to keep an eye on a race on a planet recently discovered – with a cautious approach. It seemed like the planet was in the middle of a global civil war – not to mention this race seemed to be space faring, at least partially. That was the biggest problem for the surveillance mission – if they got discovered, the seemingly violent race would be able to reach the cloaked station.
You walk around the station, and in some cases run – everything happens in first person mode. You walk up to desks, screens, doors and other stuff to interact with them. There’s a lot of reading going on, and if you want a lot of action, this game is not for you. It is for the patient gamer that want know their surroundings, explore, and read a background story to figure out what’s going on.
Hints on how to solve a puzzle to be able to progress are found in different ways. Notes from the crew left on paper or on computers are great examples. I’d say the best puzzle I recall from the game is when you have to repair a robot that is supposed to do repairs on the ship so you can get back gravity and the life support system. Your AR menu can tell you what the robot needs for it to work and you start looking around in the room. Good chance it’s here somewhere.
This was a puzzle that I didn’t catch on. I didn’t think I could interact with a screen to choose which cases to take, but yes, that was the solution. Once I figured that out, I was quick to find the two components to repair the robot and it went on its way.
The first few puzzles are fine, though you do meet some lockers belonging to the crew that have screens where you have to make a pattern to unlock them. Since these lockers aren’t required to progress but just giving you some achievements and lore, and there’s apparently no way to know these patterns – at least not until much later in the game, and I decided to move on without opening them. I met the same pattern-display later in the game, and that required to be open for me to progress. That’s when I looked up a guide – I also ran back to open the lockers.
The harsh truth
When I wrote this review, I watched a playthrough as a reminder of the game – and it turns out that I had to find a book which the note is giving a clue to. My words about unsolvable puzzles have to be eaten with my underwear. This game puzzles outsmarted me apparently. My criticism comes from my own experience and the game doesn’t really deserve that.
The game is short, and that is a valid complaint. A casual playthrough, including exploring and figuring out puzzles for the first time, will take about 6-8 hours, depending on how fast you figure out the puzzles. It plays like a full fledged game but it did fall a lille short. While I enjoyed the experience, the surroundings and the story immensely, a few puzzles felt unsolvable (but wasn’t) and the short game time it had made the game feel inadequate.
Miss; A way to spark hints to help finding clues. At least after a while.
Need; The ending felt a little abrupt and I would have liked to know more about the species on the planet – maybe even having met them instead of just seeing notes.