If you stumbled upon an abandoned oil rig in the middle of the ocean, would you go aboard to investigate? I know I probably wouldn’t. Although I suppose if that’s how I made my livelihood then perhaps I would. That’s exactly what husband and wife duo Mac and Charlie do. Making a living from finding salvage across the oceans they find this rig. But nothing could prepare you for what was aboard. Descend into a world of twisted horror in this classic point-and-click adventure, Stasis: Bone Totem.
Platforms: PC – Steam, Epic Store, GOG
Genres: Point & Click, Horror, Scifi, Puzzle
Developer: The Brotherhood
Steam Deck Verified
Stasis Bone Totem Review
As a self-proclaimed fan of Cosmic Horror, I’ve talked before about how it can be a challenging genre to convert into the medium of video games. However, it seems that more and more games are nailing the vibe recently, such as the brilliant Signalis. The developers of Stasis: Bone Totem are another to have done a fantastic job alluding to bigger things beyond what we can comprehend. There is an indulgence of rich and gross lore surrounding the game. Ancient deities, evil corporations, horrendous spectacles that warp the world of the possible into impossible forms defying the laws of science we abide by. It’s all here dripping down the walls. Pooling on the ground in grim and viscous detail. And it’s excellent.
Working as a salvage team who make their living by scouring the oceans for scrap and other interesting materials to make a profit from. Mac, Charlie, and their super-smart (but equally creepy) toy bear Moses find an oil rig that has gone silent. Feeling like they need to investigate to find out if there is anyone on board who needs help, they step foot on the structure.
What they find is a maddening descent into the bowls of ancient structures where Cayne Corporation has been meddling. As you explore you will uncover the logs from employees who have been abandoned. Detailing the ever-decreasing state around them. They’ve been left to starve by Cayne as they try to cover up the horrors that have occurred. Madness has taken hold of many people involved. Which has led to tragedy and death around every corner. The deeper you go the worse it seems to get.
Plenty of puzzles
With classic point-and-click gameplay, you will explore the underwater structures, solving puzzles in order to descend further and uncover the truth. Play from the perspectives of each character as they must split up and put their skills to use to progress. Gather items to unlock long sealed doors. Break things to reuse them. Combine items to create new things that will be invaluable. Each character has their own skill to use. Mac is strong and breaks stuff, Charlie can combine items. Whereas Moses is a very smart bear and excels in hacking PCs and other gadgets. Making use of these skills is a necessity and thankfully you can easily transfer items between characters thanks to in-game science wizardry – it has a name, but I’ve forgotten it.
Because of this, there is an element of trial and error at times when trying to solve puzzles. Regularly I found myself testing whether any and all items could be broken down or combined. For the most a lot of the combinations or disassembly was logical and made sense. However, every now and then I found myself stumped after being sure I’d tried every eventuality.
The same can be said about the puzzles. At times I breezed through solving them. But every now and then I hit a wall. Unable to think what the solution could possibly be only to find that it was something I was sure I’d tried. That being said, that was a rare occurrence and was just an issue with the way my brain was thinking about things.
It’s dark down here
There was one other issue that I felt didn’t help. The game was incredibly dark. For the atmosphere, it makes total sense. However, I found that even after trying to mess with the brightness there were things I just couldn’t see. Characters would react to seeing something grotesque that was in the shadows before I’d even know anything was there. Even when I did I couldn’t make out the detail. I don’t know if this was a problem because I played it on my Steam Deck plugged into the TV. But it was a slight nuisance. Additionally, there was one point where I completely missed a whole section of a room because it was so dark, and didn’t realise it connected to more rooms.
The audio is also excellent. Throughout the game, you can hear haunted screams bellowing in the distance. The sounds of mutated creatures that vaguely resemble the humans they used to be, pierce your ears and infect your mind. Old mechanical machinery clunks and hisses as you explore the dank and darkened corridors. The voice acting – which pretty much the entire game is voiced, is really good as well.
Minor gripes aside the game is fantastic. The story was engaging and interesting. The character progression during all the messed-up stuff that’s happening around was great. The worse things got the more desperate you felt them become. At first, I hated the bear, he was, and is creepy. But by the end of the story, my feelings had flipped, and that creepy little guy became my favourite. The atmosphere is brilliant. Visually there is a lot going on with loads of detailed horror to focus on. There was clearly a lot of imagination used and fun had when thinking up all the disgusting scenarios you face.
Is it for you?
It’s not a scary game, so don’t be put off if you’re worried by being scared. But there is a lot of body horror, blood, and guts. This means if that’s not your thing you probably won’t enjoy it. However, there is some really fun and creative puzzle-solving during the whole 10-12ish hour story and I’d definitely recommend it to fans of point-and-click if you want a game that’s a little more bloody. I found the story to be right up my street, it’s full of weird sci-fi, the story was interesting and has some great story beats and twists. There are clear influences from pop culture like Aliens, The Thing, and more, so if that’s your kind of thing, I’m pretty sure you’d enjoy it.
Bone Totem is a sequel to the 2015 release Stasis. However, it isn’t a direct sequel so you won’t be missing out on the story because of that. I haven’t played the first one, but it is now in my library waiting to be played.