Step 1: Cut a hole in a box.
Step 2: Put your hands in that box.
Step 3: Stick a bunch of baubles and bits and buttons and gizmos on the box.
Step 4: Figure out the resulting puzzle and receive your sweet, sweet sedative.
That’s the basic premise of Statik, a bizarre, soon-to-be-released puzzle-mystery game for PSVR.
In an effort to study the cognitive power of the human brain – or maybe just to #&*# with you — the blurry-faced Dr. Ingen and his assistant Edith have stuck your paws in a mechanical contraption and are now forcing you to solve a variety of tasks using visual and auditory cues. Your reward for doing well? A dose of calming anodyne to ease the anxiety of being a perpetual test subject.
How Did I Get Here?
Sitting in the research chair looking out into the Statik Institute of Retention lab was both familiar and disturbing, and reminded me of a mix of an Aperture Science test room from Portal and a Stanley Kubrick movie. The ambiance is stark and minimalist, with little color or adornments.
While slightly creepy and askew, the atmosphere is also very tongue-in-cheek. While there’s not much dialogue in the game, Dr. Ingen will occasionally chime in and chat with you while you’re attempting to solve puzzles, and you’ll be treated to gems such as this: “I’ve been having this recurring dream where I’m a dog astride the back of a giant chicken. I can’t help clawing and biting… it all got rather erotic at one point, but, uh, I don’t regret it. How does that make you feel?”
What’s Going On?
Each hand-constraining puzzle box is encrusted with complex conundrums on multiple sides. Using the DualShock 4, you have to rotate the container and see what each button, trigger, click and stick manipulates. There’s logic to the puzzles, but there’s also a lot of trial and error to figure out each set as the tasks vary greatly from box to box. This gives a lot of variety to the game and adds to the peculiar atmosphere as you poke, prod and push everything to see what it does. And the fact that you have a visor strapped to your face adds to the hidden-hands effect as you can’t look down and see the controller. It’s really a smart use of VR that adds to the feeling of dystopian detachment.
There will be eight brain-breaking boxes to solve, and we had a chance to play with a couple during a recent trip to Sony HQ. As mentioned earlier, each mystery crate is very different from the last, and even the sides of particular boxes require different actions to complete the overall task.
One of the puzzles involved changing lights on one side of the box to correspond with different colored coffee cups arranged on a nearby table and then using the DualShock 4 to move a cassette tape – that’s a primitive audio format for you youngins who are wondering — from one side of the box to another and eventually play the tape which provided clues for the next step in the puzzle. In another room, the main focus of the puzzle box was to arrange a series of multi-dimensional plates so they matched various displays in the room. Each experience was pretty unique, and it was satisfying to not only come up with the ultimate solution, but also just to figure out what I was supposed to do in the first place.
Keep Riding That Chicken!
If all of this sounds interesting, luckily you won’t have to wait long to stick your own hands in the box as Statik will be released on PlayStation VR on April 24. And while we didn’t get to try it during our demo, there will be a co-op mode where you and a friend with a mobile device can work hand-in-hand to solve more difficult puzzles together.
Now back to that chicken-riding dream…