Approximately 2.7 billion miles from Earth, the Groomlake cruises through the clouds of Neptune. All-but abandoned, the mammoth spaceship has seen more than its share of dark and crooked human experimentation the sort of stuff that’s kept off the books. In the vastness of space, there’s no shortage of hiding places for the Cayne Corporation and its twisted purpose.

It’s on the Groomlake where the story of Stasis takes place. John Maracheck awakens suddenly from his cryostasis chamber, severely injured and uncertain where he is or how he got there. The remaining stasis chambers are either empty or contain long-dead bodies. Last John remembers, he, his wife, and their young daughter were on their way to Titan Saturn’s largest moon to start a new life. Now, nearly one billion miles off course, John has lost sight of both his future and his family. It’ll be up to you to guide John through the Groomlake, find out what the hell is going on, and (hopefully) reunite him with his family.


Stasis is a point-and-click adventure game, but it has about as much in common with the likes of  Space Quest  and  Monkey Island  as it does with  Planescape: Torment ... and the film Alien . Perhaps the most significant difference between Stasis and other PnC adventures is the fixed isometric viewpoint something synonymous with role-playing games but extremely uncommon in this genre due to the separation it creates between player and the game world. But this detached point-of-view could be seen as a metaphor for the game as a whole: it’s a project of contrasting factors: light and shadow, loneliness and family bonds, urgency and patience, film-like qualities in the body of a video game.
“Stasis is a game that’s designed to tell a story like a film does, and because of that, it uses a lot of neat tricks throughout to draw in the player”
But lying just beneath Stasis ’ gritty exterior is a classic sort of game. PnC adventures are renowned for the puzzle-solving abilities they demand of their players, and Stasis is no different. John will have to explore the Groomlake , slowly open up new areas of the ship, and deal with challenges along the way. These challenges come in many forms: some of them are typical logic puzzles, some will require the correct item (or combination of items), and others might rely purely on your ability to pay attention to a subtle hint or two. While John initially finds himself alone on the Groomlake , it soon becomes apparent that he’s not the only person around, and it’s not long after that he discovers not everyone who’s left on the ship is there to make friends.

Building an adventure game like this is not without its own challenges, and creator Christopher Bischoff is keen to ensure that Stasis doesn’t give in to the tropes of older games in the genre that punished players for not playing in some sort of magically prescribed way. You won’t be able to screw yourself over by going somewhere you shouldn’t be without having first picked up the Pegasus feather or whatever you’ll need next (hint: it won’t be a Pegasus feather). There’s very little backtracking forced on the player, and, while death is always waiting around the corner with his finely-honed scythe, the game will handily autosave before you go and send John into a vat of flesh-melting acid or any of the other (many) ways he can die. And, thanks to the generosity of the game’s Kickstarter backers, John will also be able to kill himself in a number of amusing (or, you know, disgusting) ways, courtesy of the rather interesting items he’ll acquire over the course of the game. But character death isn’t designed to penalise the player, only elaborate on the grimness of the setting in which John finds himself. As Christopher puts it, “the deaths aren’t there to piss people off. I want people to find them.”

Stasis  is a game that’s designed to tell a story like a film does, and because of that, it uses a lot of neat tricks throughout to draw in the player and combat the (thankfully, gorgeous) isometric environment art. The most obvious, and this is hardly a trick, is that the characters in the game will grow and develop during the game in a manner far more pronounced than what’s typical of classic adventure games. The voice acting is designed to reflect this as well; Christopher told us that he had the actors read every line of their scripts with four different emotional inflections so that he had ultimate control over the mood of the game at any one time. But perhaps the most “film-like” quality of Stasis is the attention to detail. Every little nuance is accounted for: every room in the ship makes architectural sense, everything has a function.
“It’ll be up to you to guide John through the Groomlake , find out what the hell is going on, and (hopefully) reunite him with his family.”
All of the personnel (most of whom are dead) aboard the  Groomlake  are also clearly designed to create a sense of community and history: exploring this history and discovering the personal relationships, connections, and tasks that the people who now litter the halls in body bags had is all part of the experience. Even the soundtrack plays its role in telling a story: an eerie melody and whispering sound effects drift through the game, playing on John’s sanity (and the player’s), and connecting the player to the events that unfold before them.

What began as a passion project is growing into something truly impressive and of very high quality.  Stasis  is a game created almost entirely by one chap. Fitting, then, that it tells the story of a man lost inside the vastness of a giant spaceship, adrift in the outer reaches of our solar system. But there’s far more to this game than the “really cool indie game developer story” that’s behind it.  Stasis  is set to be a deep, emotion-fueled game that just so happens to be a killer throwback to both adventure games and science-fiction tales of days gone by. If you’re a fan of any of those factors, then this is one to look out for.

MUSIC FROM THE OLD-SCHOOL PROS
Two extremely talented musicians have jumped on-board to provide high-quality music for Stasis.

Mark Morgan is a world-renowned composer of video game, film, and TV music. He’s best known for composing the soundtracks for classic games including Descent, Giants: Citizen Kabuto, Fallout , and Planescape: Torment , as well as the more recent Wasteland 2 and Torment: Tides of Numenera. Mark is providing the core audio for the soundtrack, including the chilling lullaby theme that runs throughout the game.

Daniel Sadowski will be providing additional music for the game, suitable for more general-purpose background audio. His credits covera number of films and TV shows, as well as games includingCounter-Strike: GO, Disciples 3, Stuntman: Ignition.

WHAT’S NEXT?
As Stasis draws to completion, Christopher and Nicholas are already thinking about their future plans in game development. The immediate task after Stasis will be the development of a short, standalone game that the brothers are calling The Cayne Chapter (we assume they’ll come up with a catchier name by then), which will be a prequel to Stasis and is to be released entirely for free. The Cayne Chapter will detail some of the background goings-on behind the Groomlake , where it came from, and how it ended up as the setting fora horror adventure. Asa separate story, players will be able to dig in without the fear of spoiling the main game for themselves, but there will be connections between the two stories, adding bulk to the impressively large and well thought out universe that ticks away under the hood of Stasis .

Once Stasis is entirely done, it’s likely that The Brotherhood will begin work on smaller, more manageable projects, in the form of episodic games. Owing to Christopher’s obsession with film, they say these short games will play out like episodes in a TV series, being self-contained but connected to a greater story arc.

ALL IN A DAY’S WORK
By time Stasis launches later this year, it would have been in development for five years. During that time, the game’s creator, Christopher Bischoff, has done nearly everything himself: programming, game design, visuals, writing, and even much of the audio. But since the game’s successful Kickstarter campaign in 2013, Christopher was able to take on additional help in the departments in which he was less comfortable. A 3Ddesigner by trade (he, his brother Nicholas, and Nicholas’ wife Kristal runa successful 3Darchitectural visualisation studio in Johannesburg called Burn), Christopher thought it’d be a good idea to leave the music composition and voice acting to the professionals (although he does have a small voicing role in the game), as well as outsourcing some of the writing work, and all of the editing.

Since Christopher was able to move into full-time development of Stasisin January 2014, Nicholas stepped in to oversee financial and PR responsibilities, essentially handling all of the business stuff while Christopher focuses on the game creation.