Escape rooms are becoming more and more common and are a great experience. I haven’t always managed to ‘escape’ but I always had fun. However, in an escape room, you know that it’s a game. You know that once the time is up, you will be free to go. Now imagine that you wake up in that room, how would you feel? Could we even escape in time? This is exactly how Stay plays out.
The opening scene kicks the story into motion. Quinn is kidnapped and wakes up in a dark room with nothing but a PC. Somehow you come come into contact with Quinn and help him to escape. You also reassure them that you are not a threat, after all, you just met on the internet. Through several text choices you can help Quinn find out where he got caught and how to escape, all the while keeping his mental health in check. If you make the wrong choices, Quinn could end up dead. Sometimes in hilarious ways, but we are not sadists, so we try to avoid that, (or do we?).
The games controls are quite simple, you communicate by selecting available responses from a handful of options. The rest of the time you will mostly read what Quinn has on his mind. You can also keep an eye on how well your relationship with Quinn is going and this greatly affects the different options you will get to help him.
While most of the game takes place int he chat screen, there are times when you see Quinns surroundings as he looks for clues or investigates sounds coming out of the darkness. These are essentially cutscenes and the player can’t perform any actions. In terms of gameplay, there are several puzzles fitted into the game. The puzzles range from simple to fairly complex in difficulty.
Won’t you STAY for a while?
The game deals with some heavy issues such as depression, anxiety and loneliness. Thanks to the well-written script, you also form a real bond with Quinn, who often tries to break the ice by means of jokes that are bursting with pop-culture references. At times you also get to see beautiful pixel-art images of certain crucial moments in the game. The music in the background breaks the silence and always builds the suspense at the right moments. The game itself feels very much like the Saw movies, or even just from what is currently quite a bit of hype, escape rooms.
The beauty of this game is that Quinn not only responds to you the same way you respond to him, he also responds to your presence. The game has two timers running, one indicates how long you’ve already been communicating to Quinn and the other indicates how long you’ve been away from Quinn since your first contact. This means that the time you spend not playing the game is counted in the game. The longer you are away from Quinn, the more it affects the dialogue. When you come back to the game Quinn might tell you that he had half given up hope that you would return. This is the engaging genius of the game, it really is trying emotionally. Depending on how you play the game, and thus how your relationship with Quinn evolves, the game will lead through different rooms with different puzzles and items to collect.
When I started playing this game, I connect with Quinn as fast but after a few chapters I began to form a bond with him and I really wanted to help him to escape, find out who had kidnapped him and why. The great dialogues written with the support of music giving the right tone made also part of Quinn that I did not want to abandon. As an escape room we searched for clues together and I dissolved interactive puzzles to see one of several endings.
If it wasn’t fundamentally clear by this point, I’m still pretty excited from this experience can heartily recommend this game to anyone who enjoys solving puzzles or likes escape rooms. I can not wait to re-connect with Quinn to discover all the different endings (good or bad). Who is the monster… myself… or the person who did this to Quinn?