The first time I saw Stela, I was immediately reminded of Playdead’s INSIDE, which I would argue is one of the best games released in the past few years. I didn’t get too much hands-on time with Stela, so I can’t say whether it reaches those lofty heights, but I am looking forward to trying out more of the game.
Developed by Skybox Labs, mostly known for co-developing on a lot of Microsoft titles including the Halo series and upcoming Halo Infinite, Stela is being solely developed by them. There’s not much to tell about the setting in Stela, other than it is very unsettling, filled with insane monsters. From what I was told and the description of the game, Stela takes place at the end of an ancient world as we witness its final moments.
I’m still unsure why the main character runs to the right in Stela, but I do know it’s full of platforming, puzzles, and humanoid monsters that kill you on sight. Much of my time was spent hiding behind or inside hollowed out trees as they milled about. Playing only that portion of the game, which seemed like the beginning, did not show off too many of the mechanics of Stela. What it did do, however, was set up the amazing atmosphere.
The humanoid monsters showed up all over the sequence I played. They run across your past, run in the background, and even at one point several of them seemed to be doing some sort of ritual. Then you’d run across some that seem just downright out of their mind, banging their head violently on a tree. Whatever they are, they are unsettling. And I definitely believe they have something to do with Stela‘s world ending.
The visuals, the music, and the constant tension while trying to avoid those unsettling monsters made Stela a great experience.Everything worked to engross me further in the game, and I am looking forward to playing the whole release. If you liked INSIDE, or any game similar to it, you should take a look at Stela.
Stela releases later this year for PC and Xbox One.