What would you do if you encountered an alien race? Would you run? Or would you want to study and learn from them? These are some of the thoughts that ran through my head while playing the new puzzle/walking sim game, The Station, welcome aboard. The Station is a futuristic puzzle game created by a handful of clearly talented people. It’s a first-person narrative mystery set on a space station that’s sent to study a sentient alien civilization. It focuses on life from another planet, as well as what would happen if we ever ran into them. But, what if this sentient alien civilization was discovered in a state of civil war?
The Station takes off with a simple start menu, not much out of the unusual there. Settings, credits, etc. But once loaded I could tell straight away that a lot of work had gone into the development of this game. Without the use of X Enhanced or HDR, the clear use of the Unity Engine glowed with neon lights and hydraulic locked security doors, along with hologram unlock access screens and the works. To tell you the truth, the whole experience made me feel like I was back on board the Sevastopol in the most recent Alien game.
The visuals are sharp and definitely gave the feel of being on a real spaceship. The ship is littered with signs promoting the corporation you work for, Axiom, which is the driving force behind the whole storyline. The company Axiom has a lot to offer and gives a full comprehensive background, of which this game takes place. You can even visit Axiom’s dedicated website to get all of the in-depth information needed to fully grasp that story arch, right here.
The game can feel rather linear, provided you follow the story and hints throughout. When walking around you can collect scraps of information or look at tablets that have been left on the ground containing log information, which once fully collected and read, can really help to bring the game to life and explain the relationship of the crew. To follow the main mission is as easy as following the blue floating orbs throughout the map, your mission (which is broken up into 3 separate missions) remains easy, its just finding a way to the solution, followed by the question; what may have happened?
Now with all those pretty lights comes some less exciting news. The story (without saying too much) is indeed rather compelling and leads to a twist that just blew me away, but unfortunately the game’s storyline is rather short, provides no real longevity, and there’s not much to do apart from solve the puzzles provided. Which makes me wonder; why make this huge backstory for a game that’s not so long? I came to the conclusion that the team wanted more of a walking simulator feel than anything else. Granted, the puzzles do take some time to work out, but it still only gave me a playtime of roughly just under an hour.
Both the narrative and the voice acting is great and left me wanting more, but when the credits rolled I sank. I quickly went looking for a New Game+ option thinking “maybe they might expand”, but no such luck. There’s not much in the way of interaction either, and no NPC’s, it’s quite simply a walking puzzle sim, placed along the same categories as Pneuma or The Turing Test. The gameplay was very smooth and I found no issues or problems with my experience. The controls are also solid and work without a hitch apart from one tiny invert problem I had, being that when changing at the start menu I had to re-apply in-game, but if this is the only problem, then ok, I’m cool with that.
The Station looks great, plays well, and builds suspense through its well designed atmosphere. I was quite disappointed with its short length, and whether or not this will be built upon in due course remains to be seen. This is an easy ride for completionists, but will certainly leave those that enjoy a meaty sci-fi serving, wanting for more, much more.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.