How Long Will You Stay?
Stay is a choose your own adventure game with multiple story paths and endings based off of your choices made in the game. While the title does tell an interesting and impactful story, the puzzles and some nonsensical repetition left me very frustrated.
Stay tells the story of Quinn, an ex-therapist that has been abducted by a mystery man. Quinn wakes up in a dark and gloomy room with only a computer with an instant messenger application up which is how you interact with Quinn throughout the game. He will ask for advice or just want to vent to you and you must try to grow your bond with him while giving your advice on how to escape. The more you play the more emotions and feelings bleed out of Quinn and the story unravels the deeper you get. Stay does a wonderful job of portraying his emotions and making certain decisions on what to say to grow your bond with Quinn provides some interesting conversations. But some of those decisions can be detrimental. Either you will say something that Quinn will not like and your bond will diminish. Or, even worse, a decision can lead to Quinn’s death. Hell, even going idle for too long will cause a game over. Stay has a real-time counter that keeps track of how long you are playing or not playing the game. So if you don’t play for a while, Quinn will get upset and leave you, causing a game over. While that was a neat aspect, some choices made can lead to an unexpected and unexplained death leading to a frustrating experience.
Communicate to Unravel the Story
Luckily I didn’t run into this one annoying issue until the end of my playthrough, but it was still as frustrating as you would imagine. For example, at one point throughout your playthrough, Quinn must build a fire. You are given two different options to build a fire. One that uses some wool, and another that uses wood. Now I’m no Bear Grylls, so I just choose the wool option. Well, Quinn proceeds to set himself on fire and I must go through the entire chapter again, which includes a puzzle that took me a while to finish. So I make my way through the chapter again and choose the wood option. Then right after that, there is an important dialogue sequence where if you choose the wrong phrase, boom, dead again. So you must complete everything again. Even though I was captured in the storyline and wanted to know everything there was to know about Quinn, this sequence of frustratingly repetitive tasks made it a chore to continue, especially because you must go through the entire chapter again, even though you know how to complete all the puzzles. I saw that the developers will be adding a feature that will allow players to skip through puzzles that were already finished. While that is nice, you still have to repeat all the dialogue which is a pain.
Speaking of puzzles, the puzzles were very hit or miss. I had a lot of fun with some of them, but others left me wanting to pull my hair out. But I do believe the fun outweighs the frustration. As you progress, the difficulty ramps up with each chapter, with each one testing your mind just a little more than the last. There were some sequences that just give you some objects and say “figure it out” while there were others you know exactly right from the get-go how to solve. For example, there was a puzzle about a chess board with some pieces on top of it. You can rotate the pieces and when rotated in the right direction, the piece will light up signaling that it is facing the right direction. After moving that piece around the board some, it will then stick to a certain spot and change color. So now you know that each piece must be turned to a specific direction and be put on a certain spot. This was a terrific puzzle because you’re just given some pieces, and are motivated to the puzzle out, but the hints are compelling in their own right as well. But there still were a couple puzzles that were so vague on how to solve that I had to look up how to figure them out.
Stay was a fascinating title to me. I have never been one for these types of experiences. I don’t play walking simulators, and the Telltale games have never intrigued me very much. I have usually stuck with the more common RPGs, shooters, action adventures, and platformers. But Stay, despite its flaws, seized my attention. Quinn’s backstory is invigorating and his character development is top notch. Your fluctuating relationship with Quinn throughout the game keeps you on edge about what to say. While there were some frustrating elements, Stay tells an excellent story and provides a very unique experience.
Final Verdict: 3.5/5
Available on: PC (reviewed); Publisher: PQube Limited; Developer: Appnormals Team; Players: 1 ; Released: May 16, 2018 ; ESRB: M for Mature ; MSRP: $11.99
Full disclosure: This review is based on a PC review copy of Stay given to HeyPoorPlayer by the publisher