Parents' Guide to


By Neilie Johnson, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 16+

Plodding, bloody horror game is a stairway to nowhere.

Game Windows 2015
Stairs Poster Image

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A good survival horror game needs more than dark rooms and jump scares; it needs an interesting setting, a compelling hero, and tension that rises and falls like a monster roller coaster. Omit these things, and the only way this roller coaster is going is down. The problems with Stairs start half an hour in, when the story premise is completely forgotten. From that point on, the hero's goal becomes to slog through vast, repetitious locations looking for something to do. Mine shafts, office spaces, and forest paths are gray-brown and plain, defined by maze-like networks of near-identical-looking areas. These provide little to no opportunity for interactivity, except for unlikely diary notes (when you're trapped in a mine, do you leave notes around it?) and the occasional tedious puzzle. All this walking is especially bad if you suffer from motion sickness, since the camera is outright nausea-inducing. The sound design is adequate, consisting of amateurish voice-overs and pounding, sometimes poorly cued music. Once in a while, the game offers something legitimately scary, and its use of photography as a puzzle component is interesting, if unevenly useful. Despite the liberal use of blood and the depiction of a horrendously mutilated body, horror and tension are utterly overwhelmed by a confused narrative, dull graphics, and a hefty dose of "dead air." If you're looking for scares, you'll find them elsewhere; Stairs steps to nowhere interesting and leads to nothing exciting.

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