I’ve had a hard time writing The Station’s review. Not because I wasn’t sure of my thoughts, but because I wasn’t sure what words to use. Walking simulators are very much graded on their story, and that’s the problem. Any similarities, praise, or comparisons that I draw with other stories will lead the reader to play this game with a specific lens on, and this is something I’m trying to avoid. Games like Gone Home, What Remains of Edith Fitch, Firewatch, and Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture have pivotal moments that would ruin the whole experience if you knew about them before starting the game. However it’s my job to analyze this game, so here goes.
I’m still trying to figure out my words on the story so we are going to start its gameplay. Walking sims have, usually, very little gameplay variants. They are a first-person shooter without the shooting. You use the left analog stick to move your character and the right to control the camera. This is where I have my first complaint. All in all the camera feels okay, however, the moment you try to move the cursor in the center of the screen to try and interact you discover the dilemma. The camera has no snap feature so when you try to pick up something specific you either overshoot the object entirely or never make it there because you undershot. This is normally not a major problem, although, the game does a great job at building tension that can add to the stress of missing an object.
Building off the controls the atmosphere is created. When you are told what the sprint button is the only thing that kept running through my mind was “What the #*&! am I going to have to run from?!” This is a feeling that they maintain through the entirety of the game. However, this isn’t the only way that controls help build the story. To piece together what happened you have to read emails and texts, listen to audio logs, and read documents. And every time you go to do these functions you have to anticipate the camera fighting you until you become used to the float of the control. This is thankfully the only gripe I have with the game.
This leads us to the story. I’ve been thinking about this a lot the past few days and realized me talking about the story and not giving you context by saying I don’t want to spoil anything is also building hype and anticipation. So with that being said, I’m just going to dive in like this was any other story for any other game.
The story to The Station is the reason to play. From the first few minutes, you’re given the basic backbone of the story. Aliens have been found, but they aren’t single cell bacteria, nor are they primitive animals just living in the wild. No. They are highly advanced and sentient beginnings engaged in a planet-wide civil war. So you’re left with an option. Get involved and make your presence known or observe and wait for the conflict to end, to study and observe. This is what The Station is, an object to observe this savage alien species. This is where the story starts. Like all great sci-fi stories, you have a simple plan that ends up going astray. Abruptly the stations cloaking, communications, and life support gets shut down. It’s your job to figure out what is going on and to fix it. This is a journey that I’m glad to have been on and one that sci-fi fans can’t miss.
The Station is a thrill ride that keeps you on the edge of your seat until you finish this short hour to two-hour long game. It never overstays its welcome, however, it does leave you satisfied. It’s not often that I start a game and become so enthralled with its story that I don’t put it down until the credits roll. The Stations is one of those kinds of games. It won’t be for everyone, this I know. If you’re expecting this to be as good as I think it is you may become overhyped and miss the true magic of this game. This is something I truly hope doesn’t happen. This is a game to experience first hand. To not think about until it’s over and allow yourself to become lost in the story. This story of mortality, what it means to be human, and how love will always exist. Do not deny yourself the enjoyment of The Station.