STAY Review: A Nail-Biting Experience For The Switch

The Nintendo Switch has hosted to a diverse selection of games from fun and colorful titles such as Super Mario Odyssey, to dark, scary games such as Resident Evil Revelations. However, Stay by indie studio Appnormals, takes it to another level and provides a depressing yet exciting title that is just too hard to put down.

Initially released to the PC, Xbox One, and iOS devices, before coming to the Nintendo Switch, Stay delivers a unique and scary experience that allows players to experience helping someone who is in a helpless situation. The game is not horror in a supernatural sense, but rather derives fear from a possible real-life situation, similar to the Saw movie franchise.

Story

The game introduces players to the character of Quinn who was abducted by an unknown perpetrator and finds himself waking up in a dark, creepy room, with nothing inside but a computer. Upon inspecting the machine, Quinn was only able to access an opened chatroom, that is connected to a single person—you.

The player doesn’t take any character or role as with previous games. Instead, you play as yourself and would serve as Quinn’s final hope as you guide, comfort, and motivate him to make it out alive. Interactions are made between dialogue choices that players have to choose carefully. If Telltale Games takes player’s preferences into account, Stay revolves entirely out of those choices, which will determine whether Quinn would survive and get out, or forever rot in that dark-hellish room.

Gameplay

The game features a time-counter that measures the time the player has stayed playing the game, and the time spent away. Staying away and not playing the game would prolong Quinn’s agony in captivity and will render him more depressed and unstable. Dialogue choices play a significant role in the game and is the only means of interaction with Quinn. Once a player makes a specific dialogue choice, it will dictate Quinn’s overall mood and trust-level to the player which is signified by four meters labeled as Sanguine, Choleric, Phlegmatic, and Melancholic.

As you and Quinn explore the place that he is in, several puzzles that the player has to solve would be needed to progress through the next area. These puzzles range from the simple arranging of items in a particular pattern to mind-boggling math problems, and a few insane puzzles such as the mirror-maze later in the game.

Stay will remember the choices that the player would make and builds a path until the ending is achieved. Players should remember to take each decision seriously as there are instances that the game would let you think that freedom is at hand, but rather leads to the premature death of Quinn as he falls into a deadly trap. The saying, “if something appears too good to be true, then it probably is,” is a helpful motto to remember when playing Stay.

Each area in the game would impose a new set of puzzles with inspiration from different mythologies, cultures, and historical events. The player must balance between solving these puzzles and keeping Quinn calm and safe at the same time. The game’s graphics sport a pixel-themed design, reminiscent of games such as Stardew Valley, which may seem unnecessary given the game’s premise. The soundtrack is one of the better elements of Stay as it delivers a haunting atmosphere that quickly builds tension and a feeling of anxiety.

Verdict

Overall, Stay tells an exciting story but delves into dark themes such as loneliness, isolation, and depression. The game gives a fair warning to players at the beginning concerning the mental health elements that will be at play during gameplay.

Stay provides a clever way to guilt the player into staying and help Quinn escape his own personal hell. Although the pixel-art graphics didn’t work out for me personally, the game’s overall atmosphere, which is made creepier by the fantastic soundtrack delivers a nail-biting experience, which is pretty much a new experience in the Nintendo Switch.

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Stay is now available for the PC, Xbox One, iOS, and Nintendo Switch.