Statik Institute of Retention
I stumbled across Statik while browsing the PlayStation Store looking for a new VR game to try, and I decided to give it a shot. The premise of the game is simple, you wake strapped to a chair, in a variety of scientific looking rooms with a strange box shaped device attached to your hands. The device is covered in various gizmos and gadgets of an equally scientific nature. The concept alone had a very unique appeal to it, which is what got my attention initially. I would find as I went along that it more than met my expectations.
What I noticed immediately was the “Interface” so to speak. In that there was none. When you start a level, you simply wake up in the chair. Since the player is “strapped in” there was no need to move, which means there was no need to learn any controls for moving the player. One item of note that stuck out was that when I would look around the room, I could see the other rooms I was in for a previous puzzle through windows and doors connected to my current room. a small touch that really added to the continuity of the game. The controller functionality is what really stood out though. when you raised your controller, your technobox covered hands rose in conjunction to it. turn the controller sideways, the box did the same. This really let one associate the controller to be the box, turning and moving it as to examine every side closely. Their utilization of the controllers full functionality coupled with VR and some careful game polish made for an extremely immersive experience.
While I found the game play to be unique and constantly creative, it maintains an air of simplicity to it as well. Absolutely no instruction is given throughout the levels, and they were always a challenge. However, I was never unable to figure out a puzzle on my own. This let me feel very proud of myself when I would figure out the solution. There is also an option for multiplayer, where by utilizing the PlayStation App, one could assist the player using a smart device as a second screen with its own functionality. this mode only featured 3 puzzles, each that were derivatives of some of the single player puzzles. This did not stop me from having fun trying them out with another person, but I couldn’t help but feel a touch cheated.
After finishing the game I decided to do some research into the developers, Tarsier Studios. They are a studio of about 45 people, out of Sweden. They’re origins are with their contributions to LittleBigPlanet 1, 2, and 3. They were also the developers behind LittleBigPlanet for PS Vita, as well as Tearaway Unfolded. Although was was most surprising is that they just recently are they making the push for full independence, having released 2 new Intellectual Properties. One being Statik, the other being Little Nightmares, a dark and whimsical platformer with some amazing dialogue free narritive. Little Nightmares has received a much larger reception, and I had been following it at the same time as I played Statik. though the games differ so vastly in style that I had not made the connection until now.
You can find Statik Institute of Retention on the PlayStation Store for $19.99 with an approximate playtime of 2-4 hours. depending on puzzle solving skills. This game is worth every penny, and is already high on my list of best games available for the PSVR.