Why, and how, Tarsier is bringing multiplayer into its upcoming PS VR puzzle mystery Statik

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Plus how the game’s concept originates from an event a quarter of a century old

Almost 13 years after Tarsier was founded, April will see the release of not one but two original Tarsier games, Little Nightmares and Statik – and both released in the same week, no less! This calls for a celebration, and what better way to say hooray than a blog post all about the lesser-known of the two; our strange but gifted child – Statik (which, by the way, PS Plus members can still pre-order for a whopping 20% discount!).

Statik is a VR puzzle game. You assume the role of a test subject who is challenged to solve a series of hand-mounted puzzle devices using the fully tracked and mapped Dualshock 4 controller, but there’s more to it than that.

From the earliest prototypes, we felt the gameplay had real potential to satisfy the masochistic puzzle fiend in all of us, but we didn’t want to stop there. We wanted to wrap it all up in something different, something that complemented the gameplay, something … unusual.

These days it seems the whole world wants to know how we feel. Social media, feedback forms, and the ubiquitous ‘how did we do?’ units in airports, supermarkets, and public toilets. It all vanishes into the black box, and we rarely have any idea what purpose it served. It can be unnerving if you stop to think about it, but it’s quicker and easier to not worry.

For example, years ago my sister and I were at the shops in Birkenhead when we were approached by a friendly lady who invited us to take part in a survey. We weren’t worried … she had a clipboard and everything! So off we went to a large, nondescript hall, where we joined all the other volunteers eating things, drinking things, and writing down our opinions. Never once asking anyone why.

When we were done, they thanked us for our time and released us back into the world, with a free pencil for our trouble. Foolish behaviour really, but 25 years later it did help out with the story for Statik!

Despite Statik being largely a game about solving puzzles, we also want you to wonder why you’re solving them, and why anyone would volunteer for something like this.

That’s the whole point of Dr Ingen – to draw your attention to the world around the puzzle device – and hopefully his unusual behaviour will prod your paranoia button just enough to knock you off balance. He’s not a hero or a villain, he’s a professional with a clipboard and an important job to do … you just don’t quite know what that job is yet.

One other thing that’s been unannounced so far is that Statik is no longer just a single-player game. It mostly is … mostly, but we’ve also remixed some of our single-player puzzles into cooperative challenges, where one of you uses the controller in the virtual world, and the other uses your tablet or phone in the real world.

Both of you have different parts of the same puzzle, so the only way to solve it is by talking and working together. Sorry ’bout that! But it’s kind of your fault…

You see, originally we had only ever planned for a single player mode. One of the main themes we explore is this idea of being stuck alone in someone else’s room, so multiplayer just didn’t seem like a natural road to wander down.

But when we started taking Statik to events like E3 and Day of the Devs, we saw how the game wasn’t just involving the player, it had caught the spectator too. Eventually it got to the point where we couldn’t help watching the spectators, so we knew that we had to do something about it. This wasn’t ideal for the schedule (or our need to have some sort of a life outside of work), but it felt like too good an opportunity to miss, so we went back in to see what we could do.

Our main focus was to pinpoint an aspect of the single-player game that felt like a natural fit for co-op. In classic ‘staring us right in the face’ fashion, it turned out to be the entirety of single-player mode. This is a game that was designed to make you feel in control, utterly alone, but in control.

So, even though the solution to each box can be taxing, there is a satisfyingly direct reaction to each of your actions – ‘A’ does ‘B’, ‘C’ does ‘D’, and so on. For co-op mode, we simply deviate from this, whereby we give the action to one of you, and the re-action to the other, meaning that while you do ‘A’, only your friend will see ‘B’.

You’re in this thing together, and only together can you get out of it! I’d love to be more specific about this stuff, but as with the main game, it’s so much more fun if you come into this with as little knowledge as possible!

We tested out one of these co-op remixes at PAX South recently and it was great to see that the concept worked as we had hoped. People were working together, sharing information, and overcoming complex problems – the future could be bright after all…

Statik is a Playstation VR exclusive and will be released on 24th April.

Pre-order it on the Playstation Store for a 20% discount.

Visit the official site here.

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