Switch version tested
Review code provided
Waking up in a dimly lit room with no idea as to where you are or how you got there. The only thing you can see is the glow of a computer monitor, with seemingly no way out of the room, what do you do? This is the predicament that the main protagonist, Quinn finds himself in. Luckily for Quinn, the computer is connected to a chat room, and guess what?, You’re on the other end.
If you’ve ever had the pleasure to play the excellent mobile game Lifeline then you will get the jist of what Stay is all about. Released on the Xbox earlier this year Stay has recently been released for Nintendo Switch and PlayStation 4. Stay plays out in real time, whether you have your console on or not. The basic premise is that through the medium of a chat room, you respond to Quinn and give him direction as to what he should do. There is also a slight Tamagochi element to the game, in that you must maintain Quinn’s state of mind based on your responses. If you are away from the game for too long Quinn’s mood will diminish.
Stay has beautiful pixel art graphics, which plays out very much like a comic book. It’s dark and moody, in fitting with the games thriller/horror nature. The animation, of which is minimal, is as expected from this art style. It essentially resembles any Lucas Arts point and click adventure from the early nineties. The music, whilst repetitive, is excellent. It has a James Newton Howard feel to it and there are certainly a few nods to the Unbreakable soundtrack. This coupled with the great sound effects, make Stay demand to be played through headphones.
Now everything I’ve said so far would maybe make you assume that this is a great game, and I’m gonna give it an amazing score. Well no, the thing is, for all of Stay’s qualities it has some real lazy arse programming.
Firstly, Stay definitely outstays its welcome. I’m all for value for money, but Firewatch and Journey have taught us that games don’t need to be long to be great. Most conversations between yourself and Quinn are needlessly drawn out.
Secondly, Quinn is an unlikable, self-indulgent, neurotic prick. Now I have never found myself alone in an unfamiliar place with no way out. I have found myself alone and completely billy bollocks naked in an unfamiliar place, only to sober up and realise I’m in my own lounge, but I kinda knew where the door was. If I were in the same position, however, I’d like to think I wouldn’t be such a whingy, needy douchebag.
And third, and the worst thing about this game, which I have not yet mentioned, is that at certain points of the game you are presented with some of the most obtuse, cryptic puzzles ever to grace a game. It doesn’t matter if you can get past the unnecessarily long drawn out conversations or the dick wad that is Quinn, the puzzles will stump you piss you off and drive you away from the game.
Stay is good, it has some great atmosphere, dialogue, graphics and sound, it plays well. Although adding filler in the form of cryptic puzzles and nonsensical dialogue sucks the life out of the game, and whether you get stuck or the conversations become a chore or if you manage to see it through to completion, Stay will not leave a nice taste in your mouth, which is such a shame, because that first bite was delicious. You have been warned!
TBG Score: 6/10
Genre: Puzzle, RPG, Sim
Release: 12/09/2018 (Switch)
Format: Steam, iOS, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch
Download link: Nintendo eShop