Stasis: Bone Totem (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Az Elias 02.05.2024

Review for Stasis: Bone Totem on Nintendo Switch

South African developer The Brotherhood has had plenty of experience in the point-and-click adventure genre, after its debut title Stasis delved into a creepy sci-fi future and was followed by a prequel in the form of Cayne. Original title Beautiful Desolation demonstrated plenty of learnings and improvements, but Stasis: Bone Totem might just be the culmination of over a decade of success. This return to the Stasis universe has been out on Steam for a year, but now sees a much-anticipated console release, reviewed here on Nintendo Switch.

Mac and Charlie, a husband-and-wife duo on the hunt for salvage in the middle of the ocean, stumble upon an abandoned oil rig and take their chances despite the raging storm. It isn't long before the pair realises there is more to this place than first thought, and after descending deeper beneath the waves, their docking here quickly turns into a nightmare.

Point-and-click adventures designed for a mouse and keyboard don't always translate so well to consoles that use a controller as the main method of input. The result of this conversion of Stasis: Bone Totem, though, is very good, since the three main characters can be moved around easily with either control stick, negating the need for a cursor to click where to navigate them towards.

Screenshot for Stasis: Bone Totem on Nintendo Switch

There are more than a handful of occasions where characters can't quite reach a particular spot due to no obvious reason, and they must be guided the opposite way around a path or object to get there, but it isn't clear if this is an issue exclusive to console or is in the PC version, too. Other aspects have been converted well, with a button cycling through every point of interest on a given screen when tapped, allowing for each highly descriptive textbox to be read if desired.

That wasn't a typo above, either; there are indeed three characters that must be switched between in this horror adventure. Each one has a unique trait, with Mac able to use his strength to break apart objects, while Charlie can combine two items to craft something else. The somewhat disturbing-yet-cute AI bear known as Moses accompanies the team, and although he cannot mess around with the pickups, he is the computer specialist.

Using special technology, acquired items can be freely passed between the companions despite them being separated throughout the game (it's the future and a video game; it doesn't have to make sense), and puzzles necessitate this mechanic, where solutions require items that can not only be found by somebody else, but also rely upon modified tools being used to progress.

Screenshot for Stasis: Bone Totem on Nintendo Switch

Puzzles are a core part of the gameplay in Stasis: Bone Totem and demand careful thinking and observation skills, yet can edge too far on the frustrating and confusing side. Patience to figure things out is essential, but given how engrossing the storyline is, the puzzles' annoyances are exacerbated when new plot elements present themselves and the want to push forward is so strong.

The developer was prepared, however, and has posted an entire guide for the game that can just as easily be followed for the console versions should players get stuck (which they will). There seems to be an abundance of instances where it isn't always entirely clear what items to mix and where to use them, leading to a lot of trial and error, or caving in and looking at the guide. More experienced players may dig the challenge, and Stasis: Bone Totem certainly has it.

Screenshot for Stasis: Bone Totem on Nintendo Switch

It doesn't help that the Nintendo Switch port looks like a blurry mess on many of the zoomed-in screens where interaction is required to pick up and place objects. Things are so bad sometimes that it cannot be determined what an item even is when looking at it. It is incredibly jarring to go from the elaborate prerendered backgrounds to these undecipherable and just plain shocking screens of interest. It's a real shame this takes such a hit visually on Switch, but surely the level of degradation that exists shouldn't be this low.

The helpful hint tool and point-of-interest button does make things a little easier in parts to know where to examine to pick something up or put in place. During normal gameplay from the isometric viewpoint, all points of interest can be highlighted with lines drawn back to the character, with green not being essential for progression and blue being essential. These little features can make advancing through each screen just that bit simpler and quicker.

Despite the irritating puzzles at times, the writing and plot are enough to ensure players will want to persevere to the end - even if interruptions to the exploration side of gameplay become all too frequent in the latter stages. The voice acting is exceptionally good, and there is even time for a little humour here and there early on - until things start getting way too freakish. Diary entries are really well written, and the comprehensive descriptions of focal points greatly add to the atmosphere on top of providing an additional layer of detail to the already impressive room designs. There is a lot to praise, and although this is probably the best work by The Brotherhood so far, it would be great to see the rest of the series ported over at some point.

Screenshot for Stasis: Bone Totem on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

Stasis: Bone Totem's challenging puzzles may cause a headache and bring progression to a halt on more than one occasion, so it is best to be prepared for critical thinking and a little trial and error. The excellently written characters and superb voice acting really drive the desire to progress, and the sci-fi horror plot is backed up by immaculate prerendered backgrounds that sadly take a dip in quality on Switch, especially on the puzzle screens. Although not without its faults and the odd bug here and there, this point-and-click adventure has still transitioned greatly to console, and the effort to bring such a title to Switch is hugely appreciated.

Developer

The Brotherhood

Publisher

Feardemic

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   

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