The Station may be a short game but its story is well-told, its puzzles well-themed to the environment, and the visuals, sound effects and music do a great job in immersing you. However, is that enough to tempt you with its £11.99 price point?
The developers boast in The Station’s store page that “the best stories are shown not told” and there’s certainly a sense of that with this title. There’s a huge amount of environmental storytelling in every room and corridor you visit, making exploring the space station setting an intriguing endeavour.
You are a specialist sent to uncover why communication was lost to a space station orbiting and spying on an alien civilisation. This discovery of aliens has reshaped your world and provided countless scientific discoveries. However, the aliens are fighting a civil war on their planet, and so present a potential threat, deterring you from making yourselves known and engaging with them. Instead, a stealth space station has been deployed to spy and study them, with a small three member crew. Now communication has been lost it’s your job to uncover what went wrong and how compromised the station is.
Uncovering the fate of the crew involves you exploring each room of the space station and solving simple puzzles to gain access to new areas. There’s nothing too taxing here, it’s all very logical and appropriate to the situation you find yourself in, which helps greatly with immersing you in the story and setting. Furthermore, practically everything can be interacted with, making it a playground of objects you can examine and fling about. Fortunately, despite this you’re unlikely to be led astray with useless items, instead the important things are obvious enough visually, and explained well enough with your mission tracker, to keep you on the critical path.
And indeed, if you stick entirely to the critical path, The Station offers a mere couple of hours of content before you reach it’s rather predictable but still satisfying end. It’s a very short story with an interesting tale but one you’re likely to guess within the first fifteen minutes. However, there’s more to discover that helps bolster the story with additional titbits of information, should you go looking for it.
There are lockers to be found that can be opened with a little searching and puzzle solving, as well as plenty of computer terminals to snoop through. Meanwhile, the aforementioned visual storytelling of each room is particularly strong, with notes, stains, books and other objects painting a vivid picture of what life was like on the space station for the three person crew. There’s an intriguing set of stories for each member, granting you a better understanding of their personalities and motivations. And indeed, these character are well-rounded individuals; learning about them builds a bond with them, making the story and the ending feel more significant.
Excellent visuals and sound also help to bring the space station to life. It’s mostly dark, a cliché lighting model for space stations that have suffered a failure of some kind, however, other light sources help give an identity to each room, with subtle hues to denote the different personalities of the crew and neon lighting acting as a theme through the common areas. Music is rarely used, and when it is used it’s short and brilliantly effective. It all comes together to give the space station a superbly immersive atmosphere.
Indeed, ‘immersive’ is the word I keep coming back to. The Station does an excellent job in capturing your attention, and while its short runtime is disappointing it does feel appropriate to the story it wishes to tell. If then you’re looking for a bit of a palette cleanse; a walking simulator in a sci-fi setting, with light puzzle elements and an intriguing story, then The Station is just the title for you.
Thanks to Xbox and The Station Game for supporting TiX