If you watch Alien movies and other Sci-fi flicks put out by Hollywood, then you would be forgiven for thinking that all first-contact scenarios with beings from another world would be a violent, fight to the death battle for our own species survival against a much more technologically advanced race. Now think for a moment if this was flip-reversed and humanity was king, we are the species who find other intelligent life forms around the galaxy to observe, study and ultimately decide if they live or die?
The Station, which is developed and published by the development studio of the same name is a first-person, story-based, Science fiction thriller. You play as a recon specialist who has been sent to investigate the sudden loss of communication with the three-man team aboard The Espial; a high tech, space station sent to observe and gather data on a sentient advanced species living on the planet of Psy Prime.
You begin the moment after docking with The Espial with the objective of making contact with and the successful recovery of The Espial’ crew. After leaving the airlock and entering the beautifully presented lounge room, it is not too long before you realise the politics behind the mission, from the recordings of the crew that you find that details the opposition of the mission from politicians and bureaucrats to a note giving to one of the crew offering a substantial reward if he is able to find a way to sabotage the space station. After all, the species being observed do have the technology to travel within their own solar system but, are in a constant state of a violent civil war between rival clans on their planet. This does not actually sound too dissimilar to the levels of advancement and international tensions between countries of the present day human race. So the question is, what if any advantages are there to contacting such a violent race? Or is their planet a mere goldmine of resources and tech that can be taken by force if necessary.
After finding your way out of the lounge and into the living quarter’s area, it is now up to you to find clues and details to what has actually happened here by working out small but very clever puzzles from repairing maintenance bots to rummaging through the personal artefacts and e-mails of the team. There are crumbs of information to be found everywhere which offer a vast and rich lore to the story which shows what can be done by any dev team with the correct love and attention, and the beauty that can be achieved in such a setting on the Unity Engine.
The most interesting aspect of The Station along with the story is the Augmented Reality displays you find everywhere throughout the game, with notes and messages popping on screen in different areas of the station to your in-game menus, objectives and sector map all being presented by pressing the Y button to display the AR system almost anywhere you want. This would make for a fantastic VR experience if it was ever implemented into the title for any platform that supports it.
Although this is a must play title for all fans of the Sci-Fi genre, I did run into a couple of issues on my playthrough. After completing several tasks to open a door to a new sector of the space station, I made a save and came back to it a little later on only to find the door was now locked with no way of re-opening it. My only option was to restart the story due to you only having a single save file for the game. I did make the development team aware of the issue to which they said a patch would be on the way, and although I found the story very satisfying you do come to a slightly abrupt ending which does have you clamouring for more. Maybe a little better closure to the outcome of the story wouldn’t have gone amiss, but all in all a good story that has set up a universe that I would love to see expanded and know more about.