Content Type: Gaming Reviews
Date: September 24, 2018
Stay is an adventure puzzle visual novel available for download from the PlayStation Store for the PS4 and PS Vita. Stay was originally created by indie developer Appnormals Team before Ratalaika Games developed and published a Vita port, alongside Ratalaika Games developing the PS4 and Nintendo Switch versions in collaboration with PQube as publisher. Can Stay deliver a unique combination of adventure, puzzles and visual novel?
The story revolves around a man named Quinn who is unfortunately kidnapped and held against his will in a derelict building without knowing where he is or why he has been kidnapped. Only a computer keeps him company in his desperation of not going insane from fearing for his life.
Puzzle solving gameplay occurs within chapters in order for the story to continually progress. Puzzles include matching an electrical signal on the left and right of a fuse to switch on a light; placing the pieces of a broken plate back together again; re-ordering the size of books on bookshelves to open the draws that hold an important looking book; and much more besides.
Character design is efficient in the sense that it is clearly depicted that Quinn is scared about his current predicament through his facial expressions on the top left of the screen and the text he types on the computer. Meanwhile, environment design focuses on an atmospheric setting as it centres around a derelict building comprising of darkly lit rooms. However, it is imperative to note that the player does not control Quinn’s movement when exploring the surrounding environment as Quinn’s exploration occurs during story cutscenes after the player has guided him via helpful advice and communication, but the player does take control of Quinn during puzzle solving, although if the player tells Quinn to do something risky, then it could result in needing to restart the chapter.
The control scheme appropriately mapped to the Vita’s touch screen, face buttons, analogue sticks and d-pad. Stay features touch screen alternatives for almost every control input other than scrolling up and down the messages Quinn has typed, while moving the left analogue stick to the left or right or pressing left or right on the d-pad followed by pressing X to choose a response; pressing O to send a response; moving the right analogue stick up or down to scroll through Quinn’s communications; pressing triangle to look at Quinn’s health status; pressing square to switch between the duration of how long you have stayed with Quinn or left him for; and pressing start to leave communications with Quinn.
Graphically, Stay is a pixel art stylised adventure, albeit with darker tones to the aesthetic that provides more atmosphere during gameplay and story cutscenes, while there is a noticeable contrast between lighter and darker tones when a light is turned on in certain rooms that offers a little comfort to Quinn by knowing what is close by.
Stay’s presentation is minimalist yet solid due to a great touch screen based user interface across various stats and options with support for navigation via the left analogue stick, directional pad and face buttons on Vita, although it does not include support for navigation via the right analogue stick and rear touch pad. The main menu background focuses on the room that Quinn sits in on the computer.
There are no voice-overs as Quinn does his communicating through the computer. Sound effects are simple yet effective as the pace of Quinn’s typing is emphasised to show his concern in reaction to what has happened to him, alongside a slow instrumental piano that produces haunting music which is contradictory in pacing to Quinn’s typing, but fits with the situation he finds himself in.
The trophy list includes 28 trophies with 8 bronze trophies, 13 silver trophies, 6 gold trophies and 1 platinum trophy. Easier trophies include the Light High bronze trophy for turning the light on in the first chapter, harder trophies include the Dr. Livingstone Relative silver trophy for unveiling every secret room, alongside a range of trophies for reaching the final chapter with a certain bond or trust having been formed with Quinn and completing the story with a certain ending. It is estimated that depending upon skill and a good trophy guide to provide some helpful tips that it would take between 10 to 20 hours to platinum the trophy list.
There are no difficulty levels, although the difficulty curve increases as the player continues to guide Quinn through his attempted escape from an unexpected kidnapping, while puzzles gradually increase in their respective size and complexity.
There is understandably no local or online multiplayer; although it would have been a nice touch to have online leaderboards displaying the fastest times for reaching and completing each of the 7 possible endings to Quinn’s story. However, in the style of Telltale Games’ episodic stories there is a statistical analysis of the percentage of players that chose to take that particular chapter down a certain path such as the amount of players that advised Quinn to breathe and relax or escape the room during chapter 5, alongside a description of the players that chose the same decision as you.
Stay’s replayability stems from puzzle solving gameplay to progress the story comprising of 24 chapters culminating in 7 endings in which the player gets to guide Quinn through communicating with him or ignoring him as much as the player prefers. However, quite possibly the best form of replay value Stay has to offer is the notion that every moment spent in the company of or away from Quinn is a real-time moment resulting in a different emotional bond or lack thereof depending on the amount of time the player leaves Quinn by himself or helps him.
- Title: Stay
- Developer: Appnormals Team (Original Developer)/Ratalaika Games (Vita/PS4 Port)
- Publisher: Ratalaika Games (Vita)/PQube (PS4)
- System: PS Vita
- Format: PSN Download
- Cross-Buy: No
- Cross-Play: No
- Players: 1 (Statistical Analysis of Gameplay Decisions)
- PS Vita Memory Card Space Required: 229MB