When communications are lost with three crew members who are conducting planetary research on an alien civilisation, a recon specialist is dispatched to investigate what has happened. Developed by and aptly titled The Station, this is a first-person mystery set on the floating space station, called the Espial. Immediately upon arriving, nothing is as it seems, as the three crew members are nowhere to be seen, and the recon specialist must comb their way through the station, putting together all the clues and solving the puzzles to ascertain what has happened. This is a walking simulator in the same vein of Gone Home and the more recent Tacoma, however, The Station (reviewed here on PC) does a great job of establishing its own brand of intense fear.
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As is the case with these types of walking simulators, it is best going in with as little information as possible. The Station opens with a little cut-scene that tries to establish the context, but it really is unnecessary as it serves little purpose for the narrative. Basically, a recon specialist must investigate why communications with a three-crew ship has broken down and, more importantly, what exactly the purpose of their mission was. The controls are basic and easy to grasp, as the first-person view allows for better flexibility with displaying certain things.
Luckily, for the specialist, the crew members have left behind a range of audio logs that do little to reveal enough when listened to on their own, however, they each add more and more pieces to the puzzle. In addition to these audio logs are many different environmental objects that can be investigated and looked at more thoroughly. Like other walking simulators, the story can be completed without having to solve all the puzzles or explore all the rooms. However, it is an environment that countless replays can reveal new things that add to the tale, and there are many intriguing details that enrich the story and add many more complex layers to apparent simple yarn.
Little details, such as pressing triangle, bring up a live augmented-reality display screen, which houses the in-game map, inventory, as well as the recordings of the all the discovered audio logs. Keeping these things in-game as opposed to a separate menu, such as the “pause” menu, helps give some flair to the aesthetic of this space-mystery. There are so many intricate details that are left in every single room, and even if they are only there to serve as character development, they still help build the narrative.
Unfortunately, for those who wish to speed through the game and skip all these minor things, they are doing themselves a disservice, as the story does reward those who spend the time exploring and investigating. The Station itself is not a long experience, as it can be completed in just over one hour when taking your time, but a speed-play can blast through it in under an hour. While the longevity is not necessarily a bad thing, the ending does feel a little rushed and it unfortunately comes to an end just as the mystery of the entire space station begins to get intriguing.
While it would have been great to have a had a little more length added to the conclusion, or even just a less-rushed version of telling it, it still brings about a satisfying end that makes replaying the story even more fun. Not all the questions may be answered, and replays will come about to answer them, but they are each tied up in a satisfying way that the answers do not feel like players are being cheated. The puzzles themselves do enough to cause a bit of a challenge, yet, for the most part, they are easy to figure out and solve, if enough attention has been paid to the minor details.