Space, astronomy, and philosophy. These are factors of life that I both love and hate in equal measure. On one hand they introduce us to knowledge and the truth of the universe. On the other it shows us just how small and insignificant we are in the grand scheme of things. Like seriously we aren’t even grains of sand compared to the cosmos. That’s why I love sci-fi games that take place among the stars (yes I enjoyed No Man’s Sky minus resource grinding). I get to explore what we humans fail to do and more often than not acquire badass status while doing it. Being a hero or explorer in space resonates with me like few other experiences can. So you can believe I was interested in The Station.
“The surest sign that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe is that it has never tried to contact us.”
Our story follows our hero and a group of astronauts, Mila, Aiden, and Silas, who are sent on a mission to observe and record information on a new alien race and their planet. Sadly, this newly discovered and intelligent species is prone to violence and makes direct contact questionable. So the three named protagonists are tasked with taking an advanced spaceship, decked out with all the latest camouflage and stealth technology, and jot down notes from the planet’s orbit. In typical fashion something goes wrong and the eponymous station essentially shuts down and leaves the three exposed and vulnerable to detection. You are then sent to their location in a rescue attempt and recover any information you can on this hostile race. Alas, when you arrive the ship is in bad shape, seemingly empty, and it’s up to you to figure out what’s going on.
Gameplay is what you’d expect for an adventure puzzle title. You walk around the advanced ship in first person, interact with objects, and find your way through obstacles or blocked off passageways. So some main quest areas won’t be accessible until you find an important item, fix futuristic tech, compare patterns, or just generally access something important. You can also pick up key and random objects, with R1, that float in front of you. If needed you can hold it steady and examine whatever is in your hands even further. Although I only had to do this once in the entire game and didn’t truly see a point to this feature. Wrap all of this into a ball and the majority of time you’ll need to use your head to solve “puzzles.”
There were a few times I wished The Station had waymarkers to guide you in some places. Not to help you solve a puzzle, but to let you know what could be interacted with in order to get pieces of the puzzle. I found myself in a handful of situations in which I was expected to know when to turn something on and off or how I was just supposed to walk up to an object with an item and the game would automatically take care of the rest. However, if this was the case the Station’s playtime would probably go down to forty minutes from the two-ish hours it took me to finish.
From a graphical perspective the game can be very beautiful. Interiors of the ship are nicely designed and very believable for a futuristic spaceship. Just a few lens flares here and there and we’d have a JJ Abrams Star Trek set. Most importantly though, and probably the easiest to design I know, were the breathtaking views you can see from the windows. Dazzling displays of cosmic dust and an untold number of stars before your small eyes. A few times I lost myself in them because I love the curiosity of the universe, and it humbles us into realizing how minuscule we are yet again. If only this violent race that was being documented could realize this instead of possibly being introduced to alien lifeforms in the worst possible way. The only complaints in the technical department were when I had to adjust the brightness a few times in order to read instructions or patterns and when the framerate dropped, albeit rarely.
Outside of the main quests and objectives are some minor exploring opportunities as well. Some parts of the ship serve no purpose other than being something to eye ogle at or find out more about Aiden, Mila, and Silas. All of their rooms and workplaces will be accessible where you can listen/read about their personalities, histories, and maybe even some steamy romances? It may be basic, but something I felt that kept the experience engaging as 99% percent of the title sees you by your lonesome. Another cool yet small feature was the in-game menu. When you wanted to view objectives and the map your character would pull up an augmented reality display in front of them. Instead of selecting options like normal, you’d actually have to face and click what you wanted to see here. Then when you were done you could just walk away and it would pop out of existence.
Now I’m a sucker for a good plot twist or sudden change in pace. To the point where I’m more excited about a title even if I already had my mind set on an opinion. I’m happy to say The Station has a great one that unravels with perfect pacing towards the end. Looking back there were even some foreshadowing moments that I kick myself for not seeing it sooner. It may not be enough to replay the entire game, but definitely left the adventure off on a positive note.
The Station plops the player in an interesting political situation in the reaches of space. What to do when you finally discover an alien species that’s borderline barbaric to each other raises some interesting questions. Gameplay may not be as interesting or groundbreaking, but anyone who’s played a short adventure game will be right at home. The only problems you have to worry about are a few unclear solutions and a rather short playtime for the game’s premise. Other than that, fellow sci-fi lovers, welcome to a satisfying journey in space that doesn't include shooting something.
Review Disclaimer: This review was carried out using a digital copy of the game provided by the publisher. For more information, please read our Review Policy.
Reviewed using base PS4.