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The Staycation, by Maggie H

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
Horror? Slice of Life?, November 4, 2022

The concept behind The Staycation is straightforward yet murky. The general premise is that the protagonist's housemate Claudia is going on vacation with her boyfriend, allowing the protagonist to have the house to themselves for a while. The protagonist is looking forward to some quiet time alone, hence calling it a “staycation.” Everything soon becomes vague.

The gameplay looks like this: (Spoiler - click to show) You cannot sleep, you hear strange sounds, your cat startles you, you hear more strange sounds, you feel the urge to check your phone, and then you realize that you do not like being home alone after all. These events convey a simple enough narrative about someone reconsidering their comfort zone of being in an empty house. But there are horror elements injected into the gameplay that make this storyline feel undeveloped.

Horror elements consist of (Spoiler - click to show) being unable to stop scratching yourself and frantically wondering why you refer to Claudia as your housemate instead of as your own mom. You are not really sure of what is going on. Perhaps there is stronger horror themes in this game. However, part of the game is broken, which prevents the player from investigating what they see in the game.

I ran into a broken page that prevented me from moving forward when I tried to purse the (Spoiler - click to show) path of self-denial in the gameplay. It said, "You choose to ignore the cracks within your marrow." This game is made with Texture. You make choices by selecting boxes and dragging them over the text to see what words the box can be applied to. In this case, there were two boxes at the bottom of the screen, a green checkmark and a red X. Moving them around the screen failed to reveal any sections that could be connected to either box. I had to restart.

Also, the game’s description says that there is imagery, but the only major visual was a (Spoiler - click to show) silhouette (a cute silhouette) of a cat in a doorway. There are also some creative emojis to illustrate certain actions. Otherwise, the game largely consists of text only.

To summarize, The Staycation is not as developed as it could have been, especially since part of the game is a dead end. If you have been planning to play it, I would still encourage you to give it a shot simply because it is so short. While the horror in the game is flimsy, the experience of unexpected nervousness while being at home alone is real. If anything, that human element is its one strength. Otherwise, it is not really something I would recommend. If it were more polished that could change.



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