Developed by indie studio GreyLight Entertainment and Published by Digital Tribe, Stairs is a first-person atmosphere driven psychological horror game with exploration elements. The game is inspired by real-life events and sets out to take players through the dark stories of three missing individuals as seen through the eyes of photojournalist Christopher Adams. As far as Horror games go, how does Stairs fare?
Stairs: PC [Reviewed]
Developer: GreyLight Entertainment
Publisher: Digital Tribe
Release Date: 1 October 2015
Price: £9.99 [Disclosure: Game copy supplied by Developer]
Stairs follows protagonist and Photojournalist Christopher Adams as he embarks on a journey to break the case, he hopes can relaunch his career. After arriving at an abandoned factory which has become a crime scene of late, with the remains of a missing teenager called Valerie, recently discovered. Armed with his trusty camera and journal, players must manoeuvre Christopher around after breaking into the factory, he must look for clues about the missing girl’s disappearance and grisly reappearance. Upon entering the run down factory he discovers that all is not what it seems, with something very sinister at work. As he progresses, unrelated events begin to string together as players work their way through a host of truly horrifying locations.
The main story behind Stairs while it might begin as one story is actual three. As well as Valerie’s case, Adams finds himself in the middle of two other cases centred around businessman, James Reed and an evil sounding priest by the name of Jean Jowers Remens. The pieces that revolve around these tales don’t always appear obvious at first but each plays a part in the overall story of Stairs.
While Stairs might not necessarily be breaking any new ground as far as horror games go, it is not short on jump scares, the game has a great way of portraying the feeling of sheer dread and coupled with the protagonist’s own mental problems work well as the pieces of the puzzle begin to fall into place. The sound and music is well designed and helps to draw me in while feeling rather unsettling. The game also has a great tenseness about it, I’m a sucker for creaks and scratching noises and Stairs is no different when it comes to generating the feeling of not being alone, the in-game environment is designed well.
I found the majority of Stairs gameplay to be exploration with puzzle solving thrown in as I guided Adams throughout the disused factory grounds as well as a long since abandoned mine and a whole lot more. As with titles such as Outlast, Slender and Amnesia in Stairs there is no fighting back, no form of defence from the horrible monsters that wish to end my investigation quickly, I found myself having to become more stealth minded to survive, while forever trying to get out of the line of sight of any enemy. Although the monster moments are spread out nicely to allow for exploration within the at times darkened game.
While I found little fault within the story of Stairs I did experience a number of glitches and lighting problems, I also couldn’t start the game for some time as the games set screen size didn’t match mine and so had to seek out a solution to fix the problem which left me at a repeating loading screen. There were also some crashes and parts of the game were a touch difficult to traverse.
Overall Stairs is an interesting horror game that has some great scary moments that left me unsettled. The games aesthetic is great and both sound and music are designed well. The story is entertaining enough to keep me interested and as Adams attempt’s to deal with his experiences I found myself all too aware of my surroundings. This is not just a game for the diehard horror fans, although it does have its fair share of nerve wrecking moments, its focus on exploration and puzzles will entertain most players. Technical problems aside, Stairs is worth checking out and a great indie horror game.