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Studio uses the Bisquixe interpreter and includes significant CSS styling — it should be run in a browser for the intended experience.
Spring Thing 2024 page
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by Charm Cochran profile


(based on 2 ratings)
2 reviews

About the Story

It's been a whirlwind few days, but you’re finally just about settled in. New place, new city, no one here yet for you to lean on. You’ve spent all day getting things set up, running errands, and stressing out. Now it's time to finish up, secure the premises, and get some much-needed sleep.

Game Details


Entrant, Main Festival - Spring Thing 2024


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Number of Reviews: 2
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Atmosperic, layered "one-room" horror with fantastic writing, April 4, 2024
by SELI-chan
Related reviews: spring thing 2024,

The premise of Studio is simple: for lore reasons only hinted at, your safe house studio apartment has been broken into by an armed intruder looking to kill you. (It's technically not all one room since there's a bathroom, but it's close enough.) You spend your run(s) in a tense thought game of cat-and-mouse as you and the intruder creep around each other in the tiny studio apartment.

Your playthrough begins with you having just moved into your new studio apartment. Here you have as much time as you like to explore, and Charm Cochran takes care to incorporate a surprising level of character depth, should you choose to look for it. Some of it is given to you with the REMEMBER command, but others are easily missed (Spoiler - click to show)like the text messages to her handler. Her quirky nighttime routine is a fantastic way of infusing character into a tutorial, and attention to detail is rewarded.

Then once night falls, you understand how justified her paranoia is. The intruder NPC is smart and reactive to your own choices, making him feel like a real threat. The game itself (Spoiler - click to show)takes place in mere moments as the main character plans her escape (another lovely character detail!) and this framing device allows for many interesting playthroughs. Playing the game once through is short - it doesn't take that long to get just one of the endings - but I found myself playing for hours, resetting the scenario over and over again to try everything the apartment has to offer. After a few runs, I suggest (Spoiler - click to show)restarting the game altogether so you can prepare your studio apartment for the night to come.

This game is very polished. The CSS enhances the nerve-racking mood without being distracting, and Cochran has taken care to reward unusual decisions -(Spoiler - click to show)I was surprised when standing outside the door when the police arrive gave unique lines!. The puzzles aren't punishingly difficult, but aren't immediately obvious. There is lots that can be missed even with several playthroughs (Spoiler - click to show)like many of the radio stations. If you like atmospheric games with vivid writing that you can come back to again and again, this is for you!

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Spring Thing 2024: Studio, April 5, 2024
by Kastel
Related reviews: st2024

This is the kind of horror that gives me nightmares. There are no supernatural beings in this story, just a diminishing sense of security in a world that is getting increasingly dangerous to sleep in.

For the avid (and paranoid) parser player, it pays to get to know your player character and what she's like. In the first half of the game, she has to do her chores like emptying the dishwasher and (Spoiler - click to show)remembering her new identity. As the game progresses, the web browser turns orange and gradually dims, imitating the sun going down. If the player snoops around with the right commands, they'll learn about her backstory, why she has moved to a new part of town, and why she's constantly exhausted but still aware of everything around her.

As the second half begins, the web browser goes dark and everything onward is written in the future tense. The inciting event hasn't happened yet. All the parser input the player enters is the sequence of actions she will take to overcome (Spoiler - click to show)the armed intruder.

Studio is a very tense game, especially when the player is starting out. The game reacts to your every command without hesitation and you can feel how precious every move becomes in this (Spoiler - click to show)life-or-death situation. Every step feels like a step into the unknown and I have to remember the right numbers, where things are and where (Spoiler - click to show)he is.

I've lived in studio apartments this small before, so it's impressive how spacious this environment becomes when we add this obstacle to the mix. Navigating around the apartment, grabbing important items, and possibly creating distractions makes this living space feel a bit larger -- but it's still overwhelming because I have to remember that her smartphone is by the bed, her laptop is in the office area, etc. This game could have been set in a house, but the compactness of the studio apartment makes it more intense. In the parser game model, the player character and the obstacle are in different rooms. In the actual writing of the game, they're just a few feet away from each other. This proximity overrides the way I usually map parser games in my head, and I find it thrilling, if not nerve-wrecking.

There are multiple endings to this game, which may not seem like much at first. However, the game only counts endings not by how we got there, but what the outcome is. (Spoiler - click to show)Multiple ways to kill the intruder exist as a quick example. This made me replay the game a lot to explore what other outcomes are possible and which one would be satisfying for the player character. Normally, I would find replaying a horror game less unnerving. However, the constant search for new things to do keeps me on edge, and I really like how the game encourages that experimentation.

If I hadn't, I wouldn't have noticed that (Spoiler - click to show)fleeing the apartment with everything you have is the same as fleeing the apartment without your valuables. After all, the armed intruder can still find you and kill you. Or how the armed intruder reacts to sounds and things that look off (he noticed the keychain was missing). Or how you can just turn on the radio and listen to some great hip-hop. This makes the setting very believable and grounded while creating a kind of sandbox environment for the player to play around in.

It took me a while to get the last two main endings, that is (Spoiler - click to show)subduing and murdering the intruder while alerting the police. And I had to ask Cochran for help for that since they weren't really smart ideas for the player character to have. But I do appreciate that these endings exist as they remind the player that every variable is in fact in check.

While I enjoyed the game very much, I have to admit that the game doesn't go beyond its atmospheric horror roots. The way the game handles its themes doesn't make me want to write an essay about it. I think this can be a downer for people who want more than just a sandbox horror game.

That said, I think its brevity works in its favor. Studio knows what it wants to do, and it delivers. I am extremely impressed with the title and how many secrets it has -- I'm sure there are more to be found, even though I've spent hours on the game. It's simply an effective horror parser game because it preys on something most people feel vulnerable to: our safety.

I remember wondering what the player character meant in the second half when she said that (Spoiler - click to show)she was missing the weapon that kept her safe, and I restarted the game and searched the apartment as if I were burglaring her place. After a day of searching, I found (Spoiler - click to show)her taser and time stopped for me. I thought about all the associations with the object, her backstory, and why she needs it.

The object, in my view, challenges how we balance safety with other needs while reminding us that one wrong step could be the end of everything. It is a symbol of how (Spoiler - click to show)gender-based violence is everywhere and the police are useless. All she can do is fend for herself, and I think that's the real horror of the story: she's alone in a violent, violent world.

The studio apartment just happens to be a microcosm of that world.

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This is version 2 of this page, edited by OverThinking on 1 April 2024 at 10:26pm. - View Update History - Edit This Page - Add a News Item - Delete This Page