What would you do if you woke up one morning to find both your hands had been inexplicably imprisoned in an elaborate mechanical safe? As odd as it sounds (and looks), the idea is essentially the premise for PSVR’s Statik: Institute of Retention. Thankfully, this isnt a torture porn situation where your hands are going to get cut off, though from what I was able to play of it, Statik is no less conceptually bizarre.
Basically the game is most easily summed up as an escape room for your hands, albeit one in virtual reality rather than the potentially claustrophobic real world. Stepping into the shoes of a test subject in a lab not entirely like Portal’s, each new day in the game brings a new box attachment.
And how do you release the contraption? It’s up to you to figure that out, usually (at least in my case) through a series or tests, trials and observations as you fiddle your way over the Dual Shock’s various buttons, which will all govern various functions for whatever mechanism which currently has you occupied.
Statik is one of the PSVR games that takes the most advantage – and presents the best use of – its format; the beauty of it is that in order to solve each puzzle, you’ll have to look around your surroundings, not to mention, over, under and on each side of the box itself, to find everything function it may have.
As immersion is obviously key, the developers at Tarsier Studios told me you won’t be getting hints. A test subject would just be tested until they figured out how to solve a problem, and the same rule applies here. It’s as it should be. The boxes may seem inscrutable at first, which makes the eventual “eureka!” moment all the greater when it happens.
While it’s a fun enough concept on its own, what really pulls everything together with Statik is its offbeat tone. The game has a larger narrative than just being trapped in a room solving puzzles watching the teaser doubtless leave you intrigured and possibly chuckling, particularly once you pick up that the assumed scientist running the exercise is rambling on about a dream he keeps having where he is a dog riding a giant chicken.
“It all got rather erotic at one point, but, uh, I don’t regret it,” he says flippantly. It’s blink-and-you’ll-miss-it humor – seriously, wonderful comic timing from that voice actor – and it works swimmingly for the setting (also note the Lynchian doo-wop picked for the trailers).
PSVR’s bound to have a wide variety of experiences for players around launch, from expected shootouts to weird independent projects. With its eccentric personality and its expectations that you pay attention, it’s the one that’s surprised me the most.