Stela is an atmospheric platformer about a young woman’s journey through a dying world. SkyBox Labs has done a great job with the environment and music. Unfortunately, there are a few things that keep Stela from being a great game. Keep reading the rest of our Stela review for PC.
My hat goes off to the team at SkyBox Labs for the atmosphere they created in Stela. I enjoyed my first playthrough of the game immensely and am continuing to enjoy the challenge of completing achievements. Unfortunately, the atmosphere and way in which the story is told are the best parts of this game. It falls short in other areas such as gameplay mechanics and total playtime.
In Stela every environment you progress through is stylized and looks amazing. From the farmlands to ancient ruins, every area has its individual personality and challenges to overcome, I found it a joy to travel from one area to the next. Combined with the soundtrack my first playthrough of Stella was very relaxing. I find myself returning to the game casually when I just want to take 15 minutes and unwind from a long day.
How Stella’s story is told only adds to the experience. As you traveled through the world there are no voice-overs or journal entries to read, just visual ques and obelisks that slowly reveal the story visually. This adds to the journey through an unknown world but, may not be for everyone. By the end of my first playthrough, I was left feeling satisfied with the experience and it was a nice change of pace.
But not all things are executed well in Stela. While I did not experience any form of crashes or bugs, other than the ones you run from, the gameplay mechanics are very simple and at times the controls were not very precise. For example, when crossing the fields and being fired upon by arrows it could be a bit temperamental to try and get underneath a shield to avoid becoming a pincushion. Also, there is no form of a tutorial when you do encounter a new gameplay mechanic, while I can see this is part of this game’s design, it is on the player to figure out how to manipulate an object. It could easily turn some players away and a simple tutorial before your start could go a long way to avoid that issue.
I didn’t find Stella to be a particularly difficult game unless you are very good or know in advance about certain mechanics expect to die at least a few times until your timing is up to snuff. Otherwise, a typical player should find their progression through the various areas to be reasonably quick. I didn’t get particularly frustrated at any given point except for one evening when I was tired and just could not get the timing down to jump across a ravine and escape a boss. After a night’s rest and trying again the next day I realized that I was trying to complete the jump in completely the wrong way, then I quickly finished it and moved on.
The total time to complete my first playthrough of the game took less than 2 hours. While it was a very enjoyable experience and it felt at times as if the game was going to end at an even earlier point, less than 2 hours for the full price of $19.99 US is a bit much. If you are someone who enjoys working to complete all the achievements, then you are more likely to get your money’s worth from the game.
A game key was provided for the purpose of review.
COMPARE TO: Ori and the Blind Forest, LIMBO