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Video Game / Stasis

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Stasis is an isometric Sci-Fi Horror Adventure Game from 2015, made by THE BROTHERHOOD, a South-African indie development team of two brothers. The game was funded through a successful Kickstarter campaign.

The Groomlake, a rundown and seemingly abandoned spacecraft, circles the lower orbit of Neptune. Constantly losing altitude, as the planet's gravity has a firm hold on the derelict ship, the vessel is constantly getting ever closer to meet an unceremonious destruction in the swirling blue methane clouds of the gas giant. However, in the bowels of the ship, a man by the name of John Maracheck stirs uneasily in his induced sleep.

Assuming the role of John, the player must help him survive as he awakens alone in the wake of a mysterious disaster that seems to have claimed the lives of most of the ship's crew and left it in a state of advanced disrepair. Determined to find his wife and daughter who is supposed to be somewhere on the ship, John sets out in a race against the clock to unravel the mysteries around him; an undertaking which will test his physical and emotional resolve.

Another game set in the same universe and set parallel to Stasis, Cayne, was released in 2017. Another sequel, Stasis: Bone Totem, was released on May 31st, 2023.

The game provides examples of:

  • Abandon Ship: The Groomlake has been hastily abandoned, with John deducing that the ship has been evacuated. Turns out this is due to the clone growing experiments going the exact opposite of what they wished for.
  • Action Survivor: John is hardly the most fit person to take on a deserted space ship full of horrors, being a history school teacher by trade. Yet with a determination born of parental fear and a little ingenuity, he will find his way from one end of the madhouse to the next.
  • A God Am I: Doctor Malan believes to be one because he's created a "new race" of hybrids. The hybrids may revere him right back, because they have a huge effigy of him inside their hive.
  • Apocalyptic Log: PDAs and terminals contain lengthy entries by crewmembers that document how the situation abord the Groomlake went from bad to worse.
  • Arc Words: "Without a family, man, alone in the world, trembles with the cold."
    • "Family" is the arc word for both Stasis and Cayne.
  • Auto Doc: Being a primarily medical research vessel, the Groomlake has a few examples:
    • The medical station just down the corridor from the stasis bay where John wakes up contains an automated diagnostic unit and medicine dispensary. A patient stands in the scanner, the systems will determine what injuries they might be suffering from, then formulate a prescription of individually tailored medicines and purpose-programmed nanomachines to treat the specific needs of the patient, which are then loaded into a convenient hypodermic.
    • The much more substantial medical bay of the ship contains a surgical machine for conducting more invasive treatments. It is capable of locking the patient in place, administering drugs and anesthetics, and using a combination of lasers, hooks, clamps, and sutures to preform any surgery it is programmed to carry out. A display screen allows the patient to observe the process themselves, and a supervising surgeon can input corrections to the program, if necessary. It even speaks with an androgynous child's voice, displays smiley faces, and calls itself Robin.
  • Bag of Holding: John's inventory is stored in a device called a Quantum Storage Unit which essentially serves as one of these.
  • Bloodstained Glass Windows: The ending of the game takes place in a partially-renovated visitor center for the Groomlake, which is styled with elaborate arches and even stained-glass-like windows, making it resemble a cathedral nave.
  • Body Horror: Possibly one of the biggest concentrations of this in a game. In a story centered around genetics gone bad, it's inevitable.
  • Body Surf: The founder of the Cayne Corporation is implied to have done this, having an imprint of his consciousness implanted into the unborn child of Hadley in Cayne.
  • Borrowed Biometric Bypass: Two examples are used as puzzles within the game:
    • Early into the story, John uses a shard of glass to cut the hand off Yuri's corpse in order to use his level 5 clearance to access the morgue.
    • Late into the game, John must take an eye from a corpse in a freezer to start up a loading truck.
  • Cat Scare: With an actual cat, no less.
  • Cutting Corners: The Groomlake didn't have a budget for fire axes, as a friendly note in the emergency box explains. Even the methane tanks from the ship's organic waste processing systems are directly beneath the crew quarters simply because it would have been more expensive to locate them somewhere safer in the event a spark triggers a spontaneous combustion.
  • Death of a Child: Relatively early on, when John finds bodies of children. Late in the game, John is forced to witness the brutal death of his young daughter.
  • Deflector Shields: Some doors are blocked by force fields. Doctor Malan has a personal force field, which will No-Sell any attempt to shoot him with the plasma cutter.
  • Downer Ending: John's daughter is killed, everyone on the ship turns out dead, and Te'ah is shot following a Face–Heel Turn. John sends the ship containing his wife's stasis tube to Earth only for her to turn out Dead All Along, with John remaining on the Groomlake knowing that he will eventually die.
    • Cayne isn't any better. Hadley makes it to the evac elevator, but there are...complications with her birth, which leave her screaming in terror. And then the camera pulls out, and we see the research vault she's been trying to get out of- with the Groomlake crashed nearby.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: A hybrid named "Samantha" is mentioned several times in the Groomlake audio logs, but never appears in the game itself. She turns out to be the main threat in Cayne.
  • Everybody's Dead, Dave: Not one person survives the game thanks to the experiments, the disasters onboard, the machinations of Doctor Malan, or what John does to the oxygen production down in Hydroponics. Not Malan, not Te'ah, not even John himself nor his family.
  • Everything Trying to Kill You: John is mostly Late to the Tragedy as most of the ship's inhabitants have already died, including the monsters, so he doesn't have to worry too much about hordes of creatures tearing him apart. That said, there are no less than four or five separate disasters going on simultaneously due to all sorts of experiments running amok at once, some areas of the ship are booby-trapped because survivors took drastic steps to stop the creatures, plus the ship is badly damaged and there's one very hostile mad scientist deliberately sabotaging you. For an adventure game there are many ways to accidentally kill yourself by running afoul of any of these problems.
  • Forced to Watch: John is locked in a room behind a two-way mirror where he witnesses his daughter slaughtered by a hybrid.
  • Future Spandex: John wakes up wearing a plug suit, a kind of chemical-resistant, skin-tight, one-piece coverall with biometric monitors and a simple onboard A.I. that repeatedly announces changes in his physical or mental state (which would not necessarily be obvious to the player.) Apparently all the "products" in storage are fitted with them, as a kind of high-tech hospital gown.
  • Heroic BSoD: John suffers one after he witnesses the death of his daughter.
  • Gainax Ending: Partially, in Cayne. Exactly what went wrong with Hadley's birth in the elevator isn't stated, though it's implied Cayne transferred his consciousness into the child.
  • Gone Horribly Wrong: Cayne Corporation attempted to grow clones in the Groomlake as a less questionable way of getting organs. Unfortunately, the clones ended up looking like mutated Humanoid Abominations that act based on instinct which has lead to people getting killed and eaten.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: The most horrific detail of Rebecca's death are hidden from the player by large cracks in the two-way mirror though which John witnesses the event (and also a dimming of the light as it happens). The aftermath is visible once John breaks through, though, and it is decidedly not pretty.
    • Averted and played straight in Cayne. We're treated to a cutscene where Hadley bisects the monstrous Samantha near the game's end with an energy shield, but her birth in the ending is thankfully obscured by the game remaining in the less-detailed isometric view.
    • Jupiter the frightened cat is yanked through the floor grate by... something, and cries out in terror before being silenced by sickening crunch sounds.
  • In Case of X, Break Glass: Found on the emergency container in admin. There's cutbacks, thus the fire axe was replaced with a note.
  • Isometric Projection: The game uses pre-rendered 3D models and animations for the visual in a similar way to late 90s adventure and RPG games.
  • "It" Is Dehumanizing: A variation. Company policy aboard the Groomlake seems to be to refer to its victims as "products".
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Te'ah wakes and guides the player for her own selfish purposes. Comes back to haunt her when John, who now knows of her betrayal, tosses her his ID tags. In front of sentry guns programmed to target people with that ID. Cue said guns tearing her to ribbons.
  • Late to the Tragedy: John wakes up so long after the disaster happened, that a layer of dust and grime has settled over everything.
  • Love Dodecahedron: Four lengthy journals in the residential area indicate the people there were all hopelessly in love with each other, in a circle of incompatibility.
  • Mad Scientist Laboratory: The Groomlake was designed and utilized as a giant Josef Mengele-style mad science funhouse, with every sort of unethical and horrifying type of research imaginable being pursued with zero oversight or constraint. Much of the revolting or nightmare-inducing things you'll encounter in the game aren't things Gone Horribly Wrong, but things operating exactly as designed.
  • The Many Deaths of You: It may be an adventure game, but make no mistake. There are several death scenes in the game if you are not careful. You even get achievements for finding the death scenes.
  • Meaningful Name: The Groomlake. "Groom Lake" is one of the alternate names of Area 51, and the ship is designed to be a long-haul deep-space vessel far from human civilization and prying eyes, so its inhabitants can conduct all sorts of unethical research that nobody can question. The vessel was formerly named "The Tower" (you see old markings and an older AI in charge of the older parts of the ship) and "The Tower" in Tarot represents a downfall.
  • Meatgrinder Surgery: Played for Drama. John must subject himself to this to remove something from his spine. The Auto Doc has been pre-configured for the surgery, but due to some malfunction and a lack of a qualified technician to run it, John must be awake through the procedure so he can guide the Auto Doc himself via a control screen, with only local anesthetic to keep the pain manageable. Failure to properly guide the Auto Doc may result in the violent removal of the spine.
  • MegaCorp: Cayne Corporation is a trillion dollar, multinational company which has played a pivotal role in human technological, medical and scientific advancement for decades. The Groomlake is operated by this conglomerate and provides a secret platform for horrific experimentation and illicit research.
  • Mercy Kill: John has to give out a few of these to unfortunate survivors who are suffering A Fate Worse Than Death.
  • Mile-Long Ship: The Groomlake, originally christened as "The Tower", is over six kilometers long. Its original purpose was as a deep space mining vessel, hence all the size for equipment, processing, and hauling ore. Fifteen years of atmospheric exposure degraded its hull integrity and made it no longer suitable for its original mission. After decommissioning, Cayne Corporation converted it into a research ship.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: By burning down the Hydroponics area to clear the way for the elevator to the lower levels, John destroys the source of the ship's oxygen production.
  • Organ Theft: It turns out The Groomlake was used to snatch people in stasis from other ships to extract their organs and harvest their skins.
  • Outliving One's Offspring: Having your daughter, who was happy and unaware of the horrors happening all around, horribly killed before your eyes.
  • Pregnant Badass: Cayne's protagonist Hadley becomes this over the course of the game. Given that she's in a research vault run by the game's namesake MegaCorp, it's not necessarily a good thing.
  • Profane Last Words: The final entry of one journal ends with the writer, who knows he will soon be dead, telling his estranged wife to go fuck herself. Doctor Malan seems to shout "Fucking hell!" as he plummets to his death.
  • Revenge Before Reason: Turns out that Te'ah has very good reasons for wanting to bring Cayne Corporation down, which in itself would be a noble motive, but to do so she callously uses John, ultimately causing him to kill her at the end. Were she open to him from the beginning, things might have turned out better.
  • Robo Speak: Most living people are dead as hell, but there's tons of different robot voices for all the devices you find in the game. John's suit, several different automatic medical devices, announcement systems and other things, all with their own icons. The oldest parts of the ship have an older AI still referring to the ship by its old name, "The Tower."
  • Sequel Hook: Cayne has one for both games. The last sight we're treated to is an outside shot of the research vault Hadley's been struggling to escape...with the Groomlake crashed nearby.
  • Shout-Out:
  • The Sociopath: Dr. Clifford Beckman is an alleged rapist who had three illegitimate children with three women and manipulated the DNA test results so they would not know he is the father. He takes no issues with tormenting animals, experimenting on people and outright murder.
  • Starship Luxurious: Zig Zagged by the Groomlake. On the one hand, the ship's original mission required much more room than its current purpose does, so it has plenty of room to spare on things like a dance club for crew recreation, and a deluxe visitor center that resembles a cathedral nave. On the other hand, those extravagances aside, Cayne cuts so many corners that things like fire axes are not placed in emergency containers. Maybe the ship renovation started going over budget partway through?
  • They Would Cut You Up: The Groomlake has been used to mass-abduct innocent people in stasis and cut their organs. Even worse is the fact that most of the staff is unaware of what is happening, as they are told that the people they are cutting up are criminals.
  • Thrown Out the Airlock: John kills Doctor Malan by shattering the glass floor panel he was standing on, sucking him out into Neptune's atmosphere.
  • You Wake Up in a Room: John awakens remembering details about who he is and his family, but he has no idea of how he ended up on the Groomlake.