The spirit had been released, and is now wandering the corridors in search of me.
I must reach the other end if I am going to survive… and that’s when the lights went out.
You can check out my news blast on Greylight’s Stairs here, but let’s dive into the review.
Stairs greets you with a pretty basic setup. WASD for navigation, and leaves the actions to the mouse; right button to bring up the camera, left button to take pictures. I get it and it makes sense, though I personally would have found it easier to use the directional keys for navigation, and using the WASD keys for actions. You start your adventure on a path in the woods, so you have a chance to orient their way of doing things.
The story begins with you stepping into the shoes of Christopher Adams. You are a photojournalist who has been looking into the disappearance of three people: a high school graduate, a business man and a pastor. Evidence is found that leads you to believe that one of these has been murdered by the others. Venturing into an old warehouse to find answers, you try to piece together what really happened, and to whom. Your investigation into each person brings you into three vastly distinct regions: a warehouse, deserted mines, and the forest.
In the beginning, the plot makes plenty of sense. Someone is missing, there has to be a reason, and there should be clues. The further you go down the stairs, deeper into the scene, and the more hints you find, the less you really know.
Scraps of paper leave you little tidbits of where to look, or what to look for. But are these really any help? What are you looking for? Discovering silhouetted graffiti on the walls and toppled shelves, you begin to wonder what has really taken place here.
The surroundings of Stairs will impress you. Being a couple of indie developers, I honestly expected a bit less. The lighting and the models were well done, and the atmospherics were enough to keep me guessing. The only appearance I found confusing was in a flooded scene, I did not understand that what I was looking at was water. I just thought items were floating; a minor complaint.
Greylight could have easily employed more cartoonish-feeling models to accomplish what they had, but they went the extra mile and wanted a realistic feel. I appreciate that. It is difficult work that is not always appreciated. Good job.
The trailer had some chilling music and effects, so I was looking forward to seeing how the rest of the game carried this through. The audio was on point! The sound effects were just enough to drive home that you were not, in any sense of the imagination, in a safe place. The music had a way of performing perfectly, that makes you think there is trouble around every corner. And it’s really not that far off.
I can tell you that not once did I leave the edge of my seat. As soon as I descended my first set of stairs going below the warehouse, I had a chill running down my spine that never left! The voice work of Valerie in particular, made me look over my shoulder several times. While there is not a great deal of it, the voice work seems to catch you off guard. They made sure with the music and sound effects, that you were never quite sure, if the next corner would be your last.
Overall, Stairs was an enjoyable experience in psychological gaming. A photojournalist goes to investigate the disappearance of a few locals. I felt a bit let down that the story did not hold up very well. However, what the story gave way to, was equally entertaining and challenging at the same time. Some puzzles that make you think, as well as some creepy characters that keep you on your toes. I’ve played about 5 hours so far, and with two of the three regions down, there can’t be too much left.
The game was beautiful to watch, and I would recommend it to anyone who like a good psychological head-scratcher. If you are one who likes all the achievements, you can easily go back for more. For the more casual gamers like myself these days, you can knock this one out in a couple of days.