Title: Still There
Publisher: Iceberg Games
Official Site: StillThere.ghostshark.it
Release Date: November 20, 2019
Version Tested: PC
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be out in the vacuum of space all by yourself? Not floating unprotected but safely on a ship, rocketing through the cosmos.
Still There is a game that endeavors to give you an idea of what it would feel like if you were alone on a ship, trying desperately to keep it running. This isn’t a game where monsters are going to pop up like Prey or Moons of Madness.
You’re also not going to be trying to fight through hordes of enemies like in something like Darksiders Genesis. Still There is a game that wants you to feel the crushing weight of being alone, and that is the enemy you’ll be facing off.
This puzzle game is also one that will attempt to test the main character’s sanity. Is everything that happens, supposed to happen? Are you sure it happened at all? Those are the questions you’ll find yourself asking as the game goes along.
Part of the fun of this game is finding out the answers to the questions that pop up. Along the way, you’ll also find a charming little story that will make you keep coming back.
Button Pushing at its Finest
At its heart, Still There have two basic parts to its story. There’s the part where you are literally just needing to push buttons all day long. There’s the part where you’ll also pull some levers.
Toiling away for your “boss,” the ship’s AI, you’ll be given various jobs that have to be carried out in order to make sure everything is running smoothly. Sometimes these jobs are running diagnostics, and sometimes they’re making sure that you’re keeping yourself fed.
Sometimes it is just about making sure that the most mundane tasks are done from one day to the next. The story is a bit of a slow burn, but the AI and the main character do manage to play off of one another quite well. There’s even a bit of an RPG element in this puzzler when it comes to figuring out how to want to banter back and forth.
Where Still There manages to succeed is that even when you are carrying out the rather mundane tasks of the ship, you’ve got to keep your wits about you. The puzzles pop up as you have to try and start up the engine, or make that cup of coffee, or just get yourself fed.
For the most part, your boss will give you a brief rundown of what you’re supposed to do and then leave you on your own. It’s up to you to remember the steps and what needs to be done.
Once you start carrying out the task, Still There makes it challenging to figure out just what you’re supposed to be working on. By doing this, the game makes sure you’re paying attention.
There isn’t a button that is going to tell you what your objective is or the steps that are needed. It’s not a terrible idea to keep a pad and pen nearby to jot down what you need to do in order to avoid getting stuck.
It’s both a negative and a positive that the puzzles can be quite unforgiving. That level of “unforgiving” can hit you quite quickly in the game.
The Mystery of Still There
Alongside the mundane tasks that have to be carried out is the story behind the story. Every now and then, you’ll go through a scene talking about the main character’s family along with some hints on what exactly happened.
As the story progresses, a real kind of tragedy will be hinted at, and in order to understand what your character is doing on the ship, you’ll have to unravel just what happened and why.
The backstory is interesting enough, even if it can’t be called “engrossing.” There’s enough for someone to want to unpack, but it’s always unclear what the motivation to unravel that part is.
There were times when I just wanted to get through the “mental anguish” scenes as fast as I could. I tried to get back to just sitting behind the control panel and find out what I had to do next. Other times, I was ready to be done sitting behind that control panel as I desperately wanted to be doing something else.
Verdict: Still There has one thing going for it in that this game stands out from the pack. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what kind of game you’re dealing with when it comes to this particular puzzler. Is it a mystery? Is it a kind of dark comedic title? Is it a little bit of both and so much more? Not being able to pin down what the game certainly makes it that much more fun to play. On the other hand, it sometimes feels as if the game itself doesn’t know what it wants to do. The look and feel of the game are enough to keep you coming back, though this is likely one title most people are going to find they can only play a little bit at a time. That’s not necessarily a strike against Still There, but it’s not really a game where someone is going to want to sit down and play for hours.
- Interesting story
- Your AI "friend" is a great character
- Even mundane tasks are fun
- Some puzzles don't offer explanation
- No action