STAY Review

The premise of STAY is certainly intriguing. A man named Quinn is kidnapped from his bedroom while sleeping and awakens in a sealed room containing only a small table with a computer sitting on it. The computer only has one application on it, a text-based chat program that is connected to a single person - you.

You'll spend a large portion of the game using this chat program to interact with Quinn. He'll at first be suspicious of you because for all he knows you just might be his abductor, but you'll have the chance to earn his trust through the responses that you give through the chat program. In addition to earning his trust, you'll need to try and keep his emotional state stable so that he doesn't give in to despair. Building bonds of trust and keeping Quinn from going off of the deep end also involve being there and not leaving him alone to his thoughts. The game will track your time away from it and the long you leave Quinn alone, the more you'll damage the trust that you've built with him.

STAY screenshot 2

The game isn't played entirely from the perspective of a chat app - you might be able to manage to encourage Quinn to step away from his computer to explore his surroundings. The game will change to a 2D side-scrolling perspective during these sequences, but you'll only be an observer as Quinn is completely autonomous during his explorations. Some of his discoveries will lead to some sort of puzzle, and these you'll be tasked with solving on your own for Quinn.

The goal in the game is not just to ensure that Quinn survives, but to determine who imprisoned him and why. The game's branching conversations and multiple endings mean that it will take you a few playthroughs to get the whole story. The question is whether or not you'll want to do that.

The conservations with Quinn are pretty one-sided; he really likes to talk and is prone to go on philosophical tangents. You'll spend a lot of time reading through his comments before you'll be given a choice of responses to make and sometimes it can be a bit tedious. As for the clock mechanic, most of the times that I took some time off from the game Quinn made some comment about my absence and then just went back to chatting as he had before. Once when I took a bit longer to come back, Quinn announced that he would no longer talk to me and the game reset to the beginning of the current chapter. The bottom-line seems to be that coming back to Quinn once a day during your evening game time won't have a significant impact on the game, and if you stay away for longer you'll just have to replay the current chapter.

STAY screenshot 6

Even through the conversations were sometimes tedious, I could put up with them in anticipation of unraveling the mystery of his capture and imprisonment. On the other hand, the puzzles were as a whole rather annoying. The puzzle design was completely inconsistent - some were simplistic, others easy to figure out but tedious to complete, and some were just completely obtuse to the point of frustration. Some were worked into the narrative while others were just jammed into the game for no other reason than it felt like it was time for a puzzle. The puzzles break the flow of the game to the point that the game would have been a better experience without them.

In the end, STAY is a game that's premise is more interesting than the game itself. If Quinn was more focused on escape than on philosophizing and the game ditched the annoying and unnecessary puzzles, it would be a better experience. If you're expecting a game that plays like an escape room experience, you'll be disappointed in it.

Final Rating: 60% - You may not want to stay until the end.


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