This isn’t your normal staircase.
Indie horror games go together like cheese and crackers. After the AAA market took a vacation away from most horror games, indie creators have done a great job of picking up the slack. Along with huge YouTubers such as Pewdiepie, I have to appreciate the resurgence of horror, if even on a smaller scale. So we have another FPS horror game called STAIRS, which will see players descending into madness.
Players take on the role of Christopher Adams, a journalist who is doing a story on three missing people. Armed with a camera and journalistic integrity, he sets off to discover what caused the disappearance and if they are related in some macabre way.
Price I’d Pay: $9.99
How long to beat: 3+ hours
Lots of games have recently been following the path of Slenderman in this genre of horror, which usually comprises of some very basic gameplay mechanics and lots of jump scares. It’s nice to see a game such as STAIRS take a different approach. Here we have something much more along the lines of Amnesia. There are notes to find, sinister atmosphere, actual puzzles to solve at moments, and some unique variations in both levels and scare tactics.
While STAIRS does feature a handful of jump scares, the frights come more from things moving in the shadows in the distance or sounds being heard. Players will assume the worst is coming out for them and then little to nothing happens, but then something does and it can catch players off guard when they least expect it.
The environments are quite different and each feature their own story. The main thing players will notice right away that connects them all is the STAIRS. Christopher will seemingly go lower and lower into the abyss and come across doorways in linear fashion that leads to these unique areas.
One minute players are in a stairwell, but the next they are out in a forest. It can give players a great sense of confusion and questions. That mixes with the constant changing moments in the game, from exploration, to sometimes using a flashing or night vision to see in the dark, or perhaps a collapsing tunnel to escape. STAIRS does a great job of throwing players into unique gameplay situations throughout the course of the game.
Graphically, the Unreal engines shines here, but it looks the best during its outside segments. The location variety, along with the puzzles and lighting effects, keeps things appropriately creepy and tense. An underground facility, a caved in mine, a camp of occultists. They all look and add to the mystery and sense of dread, adding to the story. Granted, the story is a bit of a mess, at least as far as I could tell.
When players beat the game, they will end up with some narration from a voice that is telling some revealing information, but it feels as if it’s just revealing too little and then that’s it, it ends. It’s the biggest disappointment out of the entire experience, honestly. Maybe there is more to it or a second play through is necessary, but I left feeling cold.
STAIRS really impressed me with its ability to give me some decent puzzles, good scares, and not having to resort to jump scares every few minutes. It has an extremely interesting premise and some solid ideas all around that kept me sitting at my desk the entire duration of the game. Sadly, that only last about 3 hours. STAIRS is filled with some really awesome moments and ideas, it just doesn’t end well and is rather short. If you can look past those issues though, you’re going to have a scary time.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.