Cryostasis: Sleep of Reason
We usually hear about Japanese and American games, and even though European games are huge too, it's still a little rare to see a title coming from Ukraine. And that's just one of the reasons we’ll be talking about Cryostasis: Sleep of Reason.
The already established big markets of gaming work hard to deliver timeless amazing titles. But when we see that amazing games come from little-known studios in countries that are not especially known for their video games, it's like a light bulb turns on. Especially when this studio already delivered some interesting titles in the past. Developer Action Forms brings a game that's sure to chill your bones, so let's talk about Cryostasis: Sleep of Reason.
About the game
The year is 1968, in the middle of the Cold War a gigantic Soviet nuclear icebreaker called North Wind crashes with an iceberg near the North Pole. The ship didn't sink, but it ran aground into a frozen desert and no one heard about its float again.
That's when we get into the story. Many years later in 1981, the Cold War was "over" and we played as a Russian meteorologist called Alexander Nesterov. He's trying to find out the real reasons as to why the ship crashed into the iceberg. What were the real causes and what happened to the float? You may think this mission is not something your average meteorologist would do, Alexander is not average at all.
He has this psychic ability called Mental Echo, which allows him to live and experiment for himself past events by interacting with the bodies of the victims. This ability would allow him to understand what truly happened inside the ship. But he may have found much more than he was expecting, flashbacks about the terrible events will be endless, and many secrets will see the light in Cryostasis: Sleep of Reason.
Thrilling, not chilling
The narrative is definitely one of the strongest points in the game. But there are certain similarities to many other titles in both gameplay and visuals that could be attractive. There's no denying that the whole feel of the game could remind us of BioShock, with its dark and watery scenery, but the thrill and suspense is a lot like Condemned. As you could expect, combining those two names will end up being excellent.
Cryostasis: Sleep Of Reason may not be on the top lists of sales or scores, but it's an amazing experience and a very original title. Not only is it incredible the story this game brings to the table, but also the narrative and how it explores the human mind. It's no Silent Hill when it comes to horror, but it's definitely thrilling.
The game has everything it takes to be great, sadly it didn't appear in the best of times, and now is not really a popular title. Better timing and much more advertising would have made a big difference.
Graphics and visuals: This title was one of the first ones to implement the NVIDIA PhysX and other innovative graphics mechanics. They looked great, and the light effects and more created a nice atmosphere. But good graphics mean nothing without good art, and this game has it going. While it's not too flashy or particularly interesting, the game has a well-defined art direction, and it looks great.
Gameplay: This is probably the weakest point in this game, the gameplay is simple and plays alright. But for a thrilling game about uncovering secrets and such, it's way too linear. There's little exploration to do, and it mostly feels as if you're going from point A to point B. It's not something too serious as it doesn't NEED to be open, you're inside a ship after all. Aside from that, it can be tediously easy, so it becomes monotone and repetitive.
Sound: The soundtrack is simply incredible. Not because of how great it is by itself, which is ok, but it's all about how it completes the game atmosphere. And it's not just the soundtrack, but the overall sound design in this game will shake you up ice cold.
Download Cryostasis: Sleep of Reason
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP
Is It Fair to call Cryostasis the Russian BioShock, as everyone seems to be doing? Yes and no. Yes, in that it's set in a claustrophobic world, full of misshapen horrors. No, because it feels a lot more like a regular FPS than Irrational's title. A fairer comparison would be calling it the Russian Condemned, as the combat and movement definitely feels like Monolith's beat-a-tramp-up.
The game is set upon the broken hulk of a Soviet atomic icebreaker, marooned in the Arctic Circle for years and with no known explanation as to why it ran aground or what happened to the crew. The plot is revealed both through the use of a pseudo-old wives' tale, recounted by collecting story cards at various intervals, and flashbacks of events leading up to the disaster.
You also have the ability to enter the minds of various corpses you encounter on the ship, and travel back in time to correct the mistakes that led to their death. For example, you find a man imprisoned in a block of ice. Entering his mind, you discover he had failed to open a valve to release the trapped water that was threatening to engulf his section. By fixing his error, you save his life and his corpse vanishes.
Sometimes these interventions are necessary to progress - by completing one of them, a ladder drops, allowing you to proceed when returning to the future.
As BioShock had its water, Cryostasis has its ice. This is primarily where the comparisons come from. The cold plays a crucial role in the game as you don't have a health bar, you have a body heat gauge. Enemies drain your body heat, and if it falls too low, you die. To survive, you need to find heat sources to warm yourself up or switch on long-silent mechanisms which heat the rooms and cause a really swanky ice-melting effect. Watching walls melt really does not get tiresome.
Cryostasis is a solid game. If you liked Condemned, you'll certainly like this. It's paced slowly, has genuinely unnerving moments and deserves more attention than it'll get because of its low profile. It also has the best snow storms ever seen in a game. Recommended for FPS horror fans, although the environments are by definition a tad repetitive.