I guess I am attracted to puzzle platformers that confront grief. I guess I am to be perpetually saddened by the idea that someone has lost someone and denies the issues that arise out of not confronting grief. Also, I am just attracted to puzzle platformers, I guess, which this week’s demo is. I really enjoy a good platformer, no matter the scenario. It really helps that for the past month I have been playing through all of the Halo franchise in preparation for the new release. Anyway, let us sit back, drink coffee and I’ll tell you the story of this week’s demo, Stasis Valley.
Stasis Valley considers itself to be an action platformer (even though what the demo shows is CLEARLY a puzzle platformer) being developed and published by Noobles Studio. The game is heading to PC and has a good old release date of TBA.
You take the role of a faceless man named Adam. Adam has lost someone and is grief-stricken. Stasis Valley takes place inside of Adam’s mind and how he processes the grief that follows him throughout the game.
Adam is a young man who has experienced a traumatic loss. Stasis Valley is all bout Adam and his journey in coping with grief and not getting lost in the monster-filled void that is his mind.
“Adam is a young man who has experienced a traumatic loss. As he descends into a world in his own mind, he uncovers its secrets, faces the dangers within, and learns how to cope with the grief that came with his loss.” (Developer notes Steam)
As noted above, Stasis Valley is a platformer with some action and puzzles sprinkled in. Adam sprints jump and can even dash. Dashing is important for those just out of reach platforms.
The main mechanic from the demo is the pools of liquid that act as portals, that aid in the traversal of Adam’s mind. A majority of the demo revolves around completing platforming puzzles that utilize these “portal pools,” as I often referred to them. Just think of the portals in Portal or just about any game or media that has portals in it. Jump in one and come out the other side. In the world of Stasis Valley, there are only particular pools that you can jump into. A subtle color above the water demonstrates where each corresponding colored portal will exit.
The game does not hold your hand and tell you every in-and-out of the mechanics, so it is really up to troubleshoot each scenario, which is fine because death has no meaning in Stasis Valley.
Death just procs a rewind function that puts Adam back at the beginning of the section. Death comes in the form of not entering pools from the correct direction, little black blobs, and a horrifying creature that follows Adam for a short period of time before the demo ends. The system works and I have no real issue with it because the platforming sections are small so restarting does not feel so unforgiving.
Stasis Valley is a game that I really like because of its super minimalist style. The detail is for the birds, I like it this way. It does, at times, get in the way, as ledges and navigation are not easily noticed at certain moments during the demo.
Mike Eramo does a really good job with the music in the demo. It is powerful, emotional, and pretty catchy. I was, honestly, listening to the music for a good moment before continuing the game.
The Stasis Valley demo was really fun. I enjoyed every moment of the thirty-minute demo I played. The platforming was good, the depth that the dash added to the core movement, the art style, and even the narrative were all GREAT.
Oh Lord, just play it.