One of the problems with VR is when you look down. Maybe you’ll see two floating hands, maybe you’ll see a gun or two, but deep down you know something is wrong: there’s a controller in the real world somewhere and you’re holding it. Statik is aware of your controller and instead chooses to celebrate it in a way. Having you solve strange puzzles all tied to a box around your character’s hands, do these puzzles keep you thinking or do you wish you could clear up the static?
Statik takes place in a mysterious facility called the Institute of Retention. You play as an unknown person who may be a patient or prisoner of this facility, but it’s difficult to tell. There’s only one other human here and that would be the mysterious Dr. Ingen, and he’s sure not going to give you answers. Every day you are put in a new training exercise with a box strapped to your hands, only sometimes pulled aside to be asked questions for mysterious reasons. While I was intrigued by the premise, I ultimately felt dissatisfied with Statik‘s payoff. The story didn’t seem to go much of anywhere, and at the end of the game I felt just as confused and in the dark as I did at the beginning.
While I may not have enjoyed the story, I did like the presentation. Each room that I found myself trapped in gave this weird sterile vibe, reminding me quite a bit of the testing chambers from puzzle great Portal. Having Dr. Ingen’s face constantly blurred out by static was also a smart move, giving the guy a more menacing look even when he’s going on strange rants about his erotic dreams. This is also thanks to the rather great deadpan voice acting that accompanied the character, and I’m sure Dr. Ingen will be making my personal list of favorite characters.
However, a puzzle game is nothing without its puzzles. Statik is, thankfully, more than a pretty face. It has puzzles. Every level you begin with a completely new and unique box stuck on your hands. You can rotate the box by rotating the controller, and every box allows you to register if you’re “happy” or “sad” at the press of a button, but that’s about where the similarities end. At the start of every level, you need to discover what your new box’s functions are and how to correctly apply them for your puzzle.
These boxes can get extremely unique, and I feel like this can be talked about best with just the first puzzle box. This box was broken into three puzzles. The right side allowed me to use the face buttons to solve a simple pipe puzzle, requiring me to figure out which button corresponded to which pipe. The left side had a strange track that, after some trial and error, I found out I could use the D-pad to move a clamp along the track. More importantly, I could use it to clamp a wire and hold it in place so it could get attached to other wires. The most interesting part was the top of the box, which had the corners lift up when I held down the shoulder buttons. While they were lifted I could use the analog sticks to turn the corners and eventually line up another set of wires to finally finish the first puzzle box.
Each box saw a similar set of rotating it and experimenting to discover its purpose. One allowed me to drive around an RV car, using a screen and map on the box to explore the facility so I could find notes and use the map to match up rooms with letters and spell out words to solve the box. Another saw me entering letter and number combinations that I saw on a map on the wall so I could turn on and off lights attached to various rooms watched by security cameras which let me redirect more power to the box. Each puzzle is more creative than the last.
Statik also isn’t very interested in telling you what to do. Instead, you’ll be figuring out each function of each box completely through experimentation. If there’s one thing that I felt Statik excelled at, it’s giving this absolutely amazing feeling of being the smartest man in the world every time you solve a puzzle. Then the next puzzle comes around and it rips away your high, stumping you with another difficult task. Finally, something gives way, like you discover how to open a secret latch that hides tools to adjust the laser your box is shooting, and suddenly everything slowly makes some kind of twisted sense. In the three to four hours it took me to finish Statik I must have gone through this process a dozen times, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
That, to me, is really the mark of a truly brilliant puzzle game. Statik is unique, smart, and easily one of the most creative experiences I’ve had in VR. I haven’t seen a puzzle game that I felt hit the perfect level of “hard enough to give a challenge, but still solvable without resorting to crazy logic” in some time, but Statik absolutely nails it. If you own PSVR then this is a must own, and if you don’t then this may be one of the VR exclusives that will make you consider it.
Statik was reviewed on PlayStation VR using a copy provided by the developer.
Statik's puzzles are absolutely brilliant, providing some mind-bending experimental challenges in a unique way that takes full advantage of VR.
- Brilliant Puzzles
- Makes Great Use of VR
- Great Artistic Design and Voice Acting
- Weak Story Payoff