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Statik (PlayStation 4) artwork

Statik (PlayStation 4) review


"Encased Ingenuity"


You awaken in a small room with limited movement and freedom. You're sitting in a chair, strapped, with some kind of needle wrapped around your wrist, and your hands are trapped inside a bizarre container. For now, all you can do is reluctantly listen to an unknown voice and unravel a puzzle presented before your very eyes. To be blunt: this sounds like the beginning of Portal. In fact, this sounds like several first-person puzzle games that begin inexplicably inside a compact environment and given little-to-no details about the plot. Because mystery!

Though, it's doubtful the devs tried or cared about any potential comparisons when they made Statik. If anything, they were more focused on making interesting, mind-bending puzzles for VR players. But how does one go about making brainteasers when you're literally stuck in one place, only able to move your head and twist your imprisoned hands? By putting the puzzle on your hands. It's not an exaggeration when one describes the containers as bizarre, doubly-so when out of context. The first box looks like a makeshift flux capacitor with small, rotatable pipes and poles that spin on command, and another box puzzle has a rotary dial on its face and a cassette player on its left side.

So with that much information to go on... can you solve these puzzles? Of course not.



The real beauty of Statik is its journey, the path of discovering the workings of a puzzle, more than its destination, the completion of said puzzle. With the help of your PlayStation controller, which acts as the box in each scenario, you must figure out what and how every button corresponds to on the boxes. Hitting one of the face buttons might rotate a pipe, tilting an analog stick could unlock a panel, and even the act of moving the controller potentially activates something. Oftentimes, you likely won't be staring at the correct angle of the box when fiddling with a shoulder button and whatnot, perplexed by the "wrrzzz" sound that went off. These are very small functions, but they can transform into solutions, which then present more puzzles that inch you closer to your eventual prize: a condescending PS4 trophy description and being put back to sleep.

Untangling a clue isn't regulated to just the contraptions. While you're always stuck in a chair, your environments constantly change with each new puzzle, and with that comes additional hints to tackle. You'd be surprised how many times an inconsequential object, possibly on a nearby chair or an image directly in front of you, could be the linchpin to something you've been wrapping your head around for five minutes straight. Though, there are quite a number of red-herrings. Maybe a brightly-colored glove pointing at a potted plant actually has nothing to do with anything. Or maybe it does.

Now, the thing about this VR concept is that it could have been done as a normal game with adjustments to camera movement. Nonetheless, it's appreciable how much leeway the headset gives when you're surveying a box and all its crevices, not to mention having more buttons to experiment with on the controller. Sometimes you're just encouraged to take a solid, slow look around a case, see where one wire begins and ends, and figure how it all adds up. The first puzzle actually does a solid job driving this notion home. The box has a minimalist design to the point where you'll likely get stifled trying to figure out one of its solutions. But with the help of your headset, you'll find it... after getting incredibly close to a certain, inconspicuous angle. While seemingly primitive, the first puzzle sets the tone for how you should go about solving the rest.



Statik is certainly fascinating. It has many unique brainteasers that can make you think hard about a puzzle, sometimes forcing you to think the opposite to overcome an obstacle. However, there is one "issue" that many might consider a legitimate flaw: the game's puzzles are one-and-done solutions. Once you figure them out, that's all there is to them. Similar games run into this same hurdle, and devs combat the issue with stuff like having an intriguing plot with charming characters or cramming in a bunch of bonus objectives for those yearning for more content. Statik kinda-sorta has neither. The game's plot takes a very distant backseat to the brainteasers, which there are only nine in all. So if you're expecting a huge assortment of puzzles, enigmas, and riddles to solve, you just might be underwhelmed.

In terms of "extras," there's a very limited co-op component where the second person has to download the PlayStation app on their phone in order to play.

Yeah.

But while the game doesn't have the quantity, it clearly has the quality. It's very evident the devs put a lot of time, effort, and love into constructing these puzzles, each one being filled with a lot of thought and creativity. It may take less than a week, probably half a week for some, to finish all the puzzles, but you'll still feel a sense of gratification once the end credits start scrolling on screen. For those that feel nine puzzles isn't worth it, then at least try nabbing the game during a sale; Statik is a title that should at least be experienced for its ingenuity.

3.5/5

pickhut's avatar
Community review by pickhut (February 01, 2019)

Do I wish there was a sequel to Super Puzzle Platformer Deluxe? Sure. But not if nothing new or drastic was added. We don't need another Puzzle Bobble/Bust-A-Move mess on our hands.

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hastypixels posted February 03, 2019:

I don't doubt for a second you mean "during a sale". VR is one of those genres that doesn't make a lot of sense to me for myriad reasons, but I have a great love and fascination for Portal like narrative puzzle games. It reminds me of the time I almost bought a PS4, but got the Switch instead.

No regrets, of course.
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pickhut posted February 03, 2019:

Fixed. Thanks for the catch! I get what you mean by that VR statement. As for why I took the dive, I wanted to get a VR headset for curiosity's sake, to see what "the big deal" is, and how it would challenge me review-wise.

Thanks for reading.
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hastypixels posted February 03, 2019:

It seems to be more of a challenge for you than for well ... us as readers, but I suppose that's the point. Breaking up the mundane routine of slapping your thumbs on a controller by jamming your head into a headset does present more of a cognitive leap.

Sounds pretty crude when I put it that way...

Anyway, you're welcome.

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