Stela – Review
Follow Genre: Adventure, Indie
Developer: SkyBox Labs
Publisher: SkyBox Labs
Platform: Xbox One, Switch, PC, Mac, iOS
Tested on: PC

Stela – Review

Site Score
Good: Looks beautiful, player view point is used well
Bad: Some bugs present
User Score
(1 votes)
Click to vote
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 9.0/10 (1 vote cast)

Games such as INSIDE and Limbo seem to have jumpstarted more creative ideas for other developers to use the kind of side-scrolling 2D with a 3D mix in gameplay. Since then more games have been released in the same style such as The Mooseman, and now recently a new game has been released bearing a fair amount of resemblances. This game is called Stela, and it follows a young woman’s journey during the final days of an ancient world. Stela was developed and published by SkyBox Labs and we got a chance to test it out. The visuals in the trailer already had us excited so we couldn’t wait to play it.


Stela has no spoken or written story, however, there are little hints to the story that are up to interpretation. You see Stela appearing, maybe even brought into existence, and starting her journey. Along that journey, you’ll see different parts of the world and get some slight hints. Only at the end of the journey, you’ll get bigger clues as to what is happening. These big hints are however still up to the interpretation of the beholder since they are in the form of murals on big pillars.

There are secret fragments that you can unlock that do give a sentence of story and explain a little bit more. These secrets are hidden throughout the journey and aren’t easy to find. If you want to see more of the story of Stela, then you might have to replay the game and find all the hidden fragments. Without the fragments, Stela’s story could be a little bit confusing since there is no clear context.


The graphics from Stela look great and have this eerie feeling to them. Stela has a style similar to games such as Limbo and The Mooseman, where it is like a 2D sidescroller with 3D elements. However, unlike Limbo, Stela’s background consists mostly out of 3D elements instead of 2D elements that are placed to get a 3D feeling. You’ll be running and jumping to the side most of the time. The developers of Stela made great use of the camera viewpoint, at certain points, it will seem like monsters are running towards you, the player, which helps with immersion and just looks cool. The camera will sometimes zoom out, making it so you see Stela from far away and are able to judge your surroundings better.

Your journey will guide you through different environments, which are all very well designed. They are all designed with the player’s view in mind and contain elements close to the camera. Even though the environments look like what you would expect, they all have this eerie feeling to them. This is achieved either with the lighting, the colors or even just by them looking too peaceful. The monsters in this game are very well designed and fit into the environments perfectly. At first, you will be running from beetles, which might not be 100% clear as they are so small, but later it does get quite clear what they are.


Stela mostly makes use of ambient background noises, it does have some tracks that start playing at set points. These tracks are often used to make you aware of incoming enemies and to heighten the tension if something dangerous is going on. There are also times when a more peaceful track starts playing but even those are uncanny. Pretty often you’ll just be hearing Stela’s footsteps and breath over the ambient sounds. This makes the game so much eerier and creepy, turning off your other music and just listening to the game’s sound is highly recommended for Stela.

As said above, when an enemy is coming close, you’ll start to hear a sound or music to warn you of their appearance. If you must pass by an enemy, often music will be playing to make an already tense situation even tenser. All the enemies also have their sound effects, which they usually make when they spot you. Everything that you can touch and move also has a logical sound to it. The only sound effects that are a bit odd actually come from the bats, which sound like screaming kids.


Stela is quite an eerie adventurous indie game, and while it might not be exactly horror, it for sure keeps you on your toes. You will be following Stela on her journey through an ancient world, she must get a reasonable number of obstacles to reach her goal. Stela only uses WASD to move, F to use items and spacebar to jump. The basics of the game are not hard to figure out, it is only when you are faced with the little puzzles in the game that it becomes a bit harder. Objects that are useable by Stela, usually have some red on them, so you know you can use them. When you are in a darker environment, they even glow a little bit when you come closer.

While playing the game, you will often have to use trial and error to discover some hidden traps or spot items you’ve missed. Sometimes you might even have to die multiple times until you see the solution for the obstacle you’re faced with. There is no death counter, but there are achievements to finishing each part of the game without dying. We reckon you’ll probably have to replay the game to be able to get them.

Enemies will appear from the start of the game, with at first beetles chasing you, as mentioned above. There are also creepy humanoid creatures that will jump you the moment they spot you. You will often have to sneak around them or use the environment to avoid them and maybe even throw objects to distract them. It seems that these creatures can sometimes bug out a little bit; an example of this is when they want to chase you but get stuck in place.

Stela also has some jumping parts where you’ll have to time your jump. There are even some occasions that you’ll have to use the 3D environment to be able to climb up a rock. If you can’t climb up a big rock, chances are that you’ll have to climb up the one to the side of Stela or must find an item that’ll help you up. Everything in the game is clear on what you can touch and what not, and even if you’re stuck, you can always use your F key to check if you can pick something up or move it.


Stela is a fun and somewhat grim game and even though it isn’t very long, it’s well made. There are a few little bugs present which hopefully the developers will fix, there is however nothing keeping you from finishing the game. If you finish the game, you might still be confused as to what was going on since the story is to be interpreted from murals. However, if you want to know more, you could always replay and collect the secrets. Stela might be a little bit expensive for a short game, but it is well made and a lot of fun to play.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 9.0/10 (1 vote cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: +1 (from 1 vote)
Stela - Review, 9.0 out of 10 based on 1 rating

The one and only slowqueen! -student multimedia-

No Comments

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.