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The Station – Review

The quest for life beyond our Earth is a question that has lasted since the dawning of modern space exploration. From telescopes to rockets, we have peered deep into the very edges of the universe, observing the beautifully chaotic forces of the cosmos.

In it all, somehow, somewhere, there must be intelligent life out there, waiting to be discovered, yearning to meet us. Realistically, scientists believe that we will discover alien microorganisms and small-celled creatures.

However, a wild idea has been proposed since the days of Orson Wells War Of The Worlds. What if perhaps, we didn’t discover a peaceful alien civilization, but instead, an alien civilization waging an internal Civil war? What kind of concerns would this bring? Would it be for the betterment of science, knowledge, and the future of a civilization, or would it jeopardize the safety and security of humanity?

These are the questions brought up in the new indie sci-fi game, The Station. The Station invites players to discover these intriguing questions in a dark and mysterious research vessel, and while the experience is quite interesting and worth participating in,  you’ll be wishing that there was so much more.

A new alien world has been discovered, one with a highly advanced species. However, it is locked within a massive war spanning the entire planet. World governments have debated whether to make contact with this race or to simply ignore them, leaving them to their demise. It becomes clear that a secret mission must be carried out to obtain valuable data as to the true nature of this new species.

A three-man crew boards the advanced space station, the Espial, and are dispatched to the planet. The vessel contains advanced reconnaissance and stealth capabilities that will allow them to perform the necessary research. Sometime after the mission begins, a distress signal is sent, indicating that the vessel has been effectively knocked offline. This emergency lockdown procedure has also disabled the stealth capabilities of the vessel, leaving the ship vulnerable. Players play as a one-man recon team sent in to investigate what happened.

The Station is a puzzle and investigation gaming experience. There are no weapons or combat of any kind. Your role as the player is to search the station for whereabouts of the crew, as well as what they encountered that lead to the ship’s malfunction. Players will collect special items, discover a plethora of information, solve puzzles, and collect audio logs. Considering that the Espial’s stealth capabilities have been knocked out, it is open to attack by the planet’s inhabitants.

The most rewarding part of The Station is its story and setting. Themes of science and ethics, along with the crew’s mysterious, behaviors lend into an intriguing atmosphere that players will be invested into. Across the various sections of the station, players will see a variety of notes, postcards, and messages detailing more of what the crew was experiencing, and even the drama unfolding back home.

This all culminates in an ending that provokes strong thoughts and questions about the behaviors that creatures of a society can exhibit. The ending, while extremely quick, was quite interesting. It took me awhile to understand it, but then, it all made sense, and really created a new dimension of the intricacies of instinctual nature. Romantic interests, violence, curiosity, eavesdropping, and other interaction have a role here. In fact, the premise is so strong,  could easily see The Station become a mesmerizing short film on Netflix with new ideas explored for the future.

Further compounding this sensation of mystery is the small bits of music interspersed throughout the experience. There are long sections of the game without any music, and only the sound of your boots, as well as the hum of the ship, permeating through the environment. Players will also collect audio logs and read the messages o the crew, which give the sensation of how truly alone and isolated the mission is. The opening introduction and the ending song, in particular, are quite strong. As for the puzzles, they are simple, but fun, and won’t break the brain. However, despite a great story, the game suffers from an extremely short length, and therefore, a very limited experience.

The Station could easily be finished in approximately 2-3 hours, perhaps a little more for the completionists who wish to unlock all achievements. This revelation was very bittersweet, as just when the story was really beginning to unfold, especially with the unexpected surprises, it just abruptly ends.

I really wish that more was done, especially in regards to the big twist that is made. As a sci-fi fan, it feels like a bevy of material could have been used here to make an unexpected sci-fi adventure game and to see it abruptly end feels like a letdown. Granted, The Station is what the developers intended for it be, especially as a Kickstarter-backed game so I have to respect what they were able to create. For the experience I had, it was satisfactory, but there will be those that will be discouraged by what the game presents.

As a sci-fi fan, The Station is an excruciatingly short, but interesting experience. If you are seeking a game with thought-provoking questions on humanity, The Station will be a quick, but neat experience for those seeking a quick distraction. For me, I’ll certainly be talking about the ending for quite some time, and hoping that new ideas spring forth from the foundation established in this game.

The Station was reviewed by a review key generously supplied by Zack Furniss from Stride PR

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