Developer Tarsier Studios bring boxes of fun with this smart puzzler.
It’s always pleasant when a developer has clearly put time and effort into producing a title. From the very beginning, its clear that developer Tarsier Studios put a lot of care into Statik. The amount of thought put into the title pays off, as Statik is a great experience.
It seems deceptively simple at first. The player is a test subject with their hands encased in a peculiar box covered in dials, switches and other odd controls. The box essentially represents the DualShock controller, with each element you can interact with on the box corresponding to a button or control on the controller. As a result, the controls are very intuitive, all that’s required is to remember which button corresponds to what switch or dial. Of course, the box is totally different with each puzzle, so that might be trickier than you may expect.
The aim is to solve a puzzle on the box. You are not given any clues, but must instead apply logic and observation of your surroundings to work out what you are meant to do. The puzzles are tricky and really tease your brain, but none of them were overwhelmingly frustrating. The level of immersion is remarkable. Between the intuitive controls and the presence of Dr Ingen – who does distracting things like click his pen, type (loudly!) on a keyboard or noisily slurp his coffee – makes Statik bizarrely more ‘real’ – as anyone who has had to work in a shared office will be familiar with.
There’s a subtle kind of horror lurking within the sterile rooms of the lab that Dr Ingen himself has set up, though. Before each puzzle he will deliver a rambling set of lines, that aren’t relevant to the puzzle but are revealing of his state of mind. His behaviour becomes more unusual the further you progress through the videogame, with his statements and attitude towards his test subjects becoming revealed in a way that is somewhat chillingly reminiscent of GlaDOS from Portal.
There is a curious ‘meta-puzzle’ that takes place in-between the main puzzles where you are given blocks that need to be assembled into a larger block, which ends up being important later on. There are also polygraph test segments where the player must register how they feel about a particular sound of image by pressing L3 for sad or R3 for happy. These too, are puzzles, though of a refreshingly different type.
There are lots of secrets to be found by careful examination of the surroundings, and sometimes just by playing around. The ‘Pointless Behaviour’ trophy was particularly amusing.
In a rare moment for a VR game, Statik is actually quite fun to play with a friend around, as it is actually quite useful to have someone watching the screen to shout out suggestions and point out things you might have missed.
Statik is a superb example of a puzzle game, intelligent, immersive and lots of fun to play. The subtle story woven through is interesting, the puzzles challenging without being too frustrating. VR is used superbly as an integral part of the experience and not a tacked on gimmick. Definitely worth picking up for anyone who owns a PlayStation VR.