Outside of the horror genre, puzzle games are perhaps the most well-suited genre for virtual reality, challenging you to approach scenarios from all different angles.
Statik is perhaps the best example of that, a fiendishly clever PlayStation VR game wherein you’re a test subject whose hands are trapped in a contraption, and you’ll need to figure out how to escape, not unlike some sort of sci-fi Houdini.
The game gives you practically zero guidance in these bizarre trials, which at first can be quite frustrating. But developer Tarsier Studios challenges you to look around often and use every button on the DualShock 4 controller. Upon doing so, you’ll start to discover what each task is asking of you. To go into detail with the puzzles would spoil the fun, but they’re all incredibly inventive, making full use of both the VR headset and DualShock 4.
Statik supports motion controls with the DualShock 4, allowing you to move your arms around — at least, as much as the big box wrapped around the end of them will allow. Rotating the box lets you see the different sides of it, all of which carry with them a smaller puzzle that’s connected to unlocking the box.
The ability to move your hands, along with free head motion with the VR headset, helps create a strong sense of claustrophobia. Looking down at your shackles, struggling to move with your restraints and scanning the room for possible solutions to no avail really captures that feeling of being trapped.
However, you’re not alone during all of this; creepily watching from afar is the enigmatic Dr. Ingen and his assistant Edith, curious to see how you fare during the tests. Ingen will occasionally offer up some dry commentary and take down notes, but even when he’s silent, you can almost feel him carefully studying your every move. With his blurred out face, he’s particularly unnerving. He’s sort of reminiscent of GLaDOS from Portal, only Ingen is more of a muted, mysterious and ominous presence.
What he wants, exactly, is initially rather ambiguous, but the game will slowly peel away at the mystery to reveal a figure who is actually rather sympathetic in spite of his seemingly cruel exterior. Seeing the story unravel in such a way was fascinating, and it added another reason to continue beyond the already compelling puzzles. Admittedly, Statik is a little on the short side, taking roughly four or five hours to beat its eight puzzles, but in this case, it really is quality over quantity.
Many VR games can be seen as restricted by their dependence on a controller, but Statik instead embraces that limitation. Through smart use of both the PS VR and DualShock 4, Tarsier has made a VR game that is immersive in ways that few others have managed to achieve. Thinking outside the box has never been this fun.