The Station - Review In Progress.
The awesome people at The Station Game were amazing enough to send me a review copy for their game The Station, which released not long ago. My first initial thought of the game was that it would sort of be like Dead Space without Necromorphs and weapons, but that's not really the case. Does that mean bad news? Certainly not. Let's go!
Platform: standard Xbox One.
When thinking of alien life, it's mostly about hostile beings from outer space. What if those beings were in a civil war conflict, however? Espial, an undetectable station sent out to space to research a sentient alien civilization, with a mere three-person crew, becomes unresponsive. A recon specialist is sent out to find out what has happened to the station's crew. The game challenges the player's view of surveillance, imperialism and moral law, with its discoveries. The start of the game involves an awesome cinematic short introduction video explaining the game's story's core (the Espial, the three-person crew, the alien civilization, for example). What could be the potential risks in contacting an alien civilization during a civil war? The game is set to answer a lot of questions. Shortly after, the game officially starts. You first see the recon specialist traveling to the Espial station, which later ends with the specialist being Inside the station. Now, you're able to take control. As I take my first steps, I immedietly start to love the game's audio. It feels immersive and well designed, with a great sense of quality, as well. Like in Alien Isolation, it nearly actually felt like I was in an actual space station.
Performance and visuals
Sure, the game looks great in terms of graphics/visuals, but it's certainly not perfect performance-wise . Only in the form of framerate issues, but still. The game occasionally tends to drop a few frames when entering a very open area, or when an event occurs (like the station shaking). The issues aren't ground-breaking but they're there and even on a standard Xbox One, they shouldn't exist. Wether this will get fixed in the form of a small patch, or not, is another story to be told later. As I wrote, they're not THAT serious, though. When it comes to resolution, it seems to be running in a native resolution of 1080p (at a 30fps framerate, I think), but I'm not entirely sure.
The station's interior design is gorgeous and very futuristic, and I loved pretty much every second spent in the station. For being developed by a pretty small team of (very talented) people, the game's graphics are very good looking, to be honest. The atmosphere, due to the look of the station, accompanied by views of outer space, as well as the audio design, is incredible and honestly nearly creepy. So in terms of graphics/visuals, with the exception of the game's decent performance, it holds up pretty well. The game also features a pretty great little menu system where you press Y, which brings up the in-game (inventory & map, for example) menu in the form of a floating interactable AR bar. Creatively enough, you can actually walk several feet away from it, too, without it disappearing. It's definitely one of the coolest AR implentations I've seen in a game. Great job! In fact, the game actually features a lot of AR work, like written conversations popping up. It's very cool to see, I really love the implentation of AR in this game.
The story is actually pretty deep and good. It's essentially about finding alien life but with a twist. In the Station, it's up to a recon specialist to uncover what happened at the Espial, after being unable to get any sort of response from its crew at all. Why haven't the crew responded? Strangely, the crew went dark shortly after being tasked with surveilling a sentient alien civilization in the middle of a civil war. Is the three-person crew completely gone? Are they hiding? The game definitely has a creepy vibe to it. When discovering the Espial, you'll come across several written conversations, notes and pictures that will help shed some light on what actually happened.
The Station is basically a walking simulator but with an interesting flavor, due to the game's impressive AR work, sci-fi theme and cool story. You're able to interact with a LOT of things, and you're able to pick many things up, as well as inspect them (rotate them). Some, more important objects, gets inserted into your inventory, to be used at a later time. The game wants you to explore the station as much as possible: how far in terms of exploration will you go to get a locked door open? For example.