A wonderful game
Cryostasis: The Sleep of Reason
Developer: Action forms
Publisher: 1C company, 505 games, Aspyr Media (NA)
Version: 1.1 reviewed
Genre: FPS/Survival Horror
Release Dates: NA April 20, 2009
DRM Free on DVD
Cryostasis is an amazing Russian survival horror/FPS that was lucky to be released in Europe and North America. Not often do game like this reach American shores or even into Europe. The game is very story focused in that you want to play this game more for the story than game play. That is not to say that the game play is bad, as it's great. The graphics are also an amazing that immerses you into the environment to make you feel like you are there. Read on to learn more about this amazing game.
The story is about a meteorologist named Alexander Nesterov that is sent to the Arctic Circle to investigate a Russian ice breaker trapped in the ice. Things go terribly wrong when his sled falls into a pit of ice and must take shelter in the ship. As you investigate the ship you will find bodies that can change the fate of the people. During these segments you will learn more about what happened on the ship and how they all died. You will also learn the four most important people in of the crew. The captain, the commander, the security officer, and the chief engineer. During the game you will find pages of a Russian story called “The Flaming Heart of Danko” by Maxim Gorky, that relates to the main plot.
The game does a very good job with the story as it is not cliche written or simplistic good and bad. The characters are complicated and have their faults that leads to the situation they are in. They are written as imperfect human beings that can be liked despite the bad choices they may make. There is no good or evil, just people in a unfortunate situation. The past segments really had me caring for the crew and feeling sorry for the predicament they were in. It lead to me to being compelled to do a good job to save everyone. Also, it does a good job in showing how the crew was handling things and what they experienced that you could care for them despite being nameless. I wish could learn more about the generic crew members and how they felt. The story is complicated and confusing at first that can take a second play-through to piece everything together. It will make sense in the end with no loose holes in the story and a satisfying ending. To me the story is some of the best I have seen in gaming. Just for the story alone is the game worth owning.
The game is in first person where at first 1/3 of the game you will be using melee weapons until you get a firearm. I should talk about the meters on the bottom left corner of the screen. The small red meter is your health which can be recharged by being warmed up by heat. The big red meter is the heat meter which will recharge your health to high high your temperature is. The yellow bar on your meter is your stamina bar which affects how many attacks you can do in a session and how long you can run. There are not too many times where you need to run though, you can save your stamina for melee weapons or a quick doge when needed. The heavier the melee weapon, the more stamina will be used and the longer the attack animation will be. You can do combos and attack differently depending on what direction you move while attacking. Guns don't use stamina but are old, have no cross hairs, and reload slowly. You can look down the iron sites to aim accurately though. The bolt action rifles and the semi-auto rifle fire slowly, and the SMG uses a lot of ammo to kill someone. It can feel a bit sluggish when using guns though you don't have to use them often. There is a water gun you get halfway through the game if you install the patch that is quite a game breaker as it stuns the enemy while you hurt them and you can get plenty of ammo in the form of icicles.
The game is linear with 18 chapters to complete. During the game you will come across bodies which you can jump in to change their past before they died. These segments are generally easy though you can't save in the middle of them. Some of them are difficult where you need to really pay attention in order to get through. The segments give you the background of the story and show why everything has happened. The monsters you face are strange and unusual with some being creepy. Two of the SMG monsters will scare you when they come out in surprise. They are strong and very dangerous and killed me a few times when I was caught off guard. You will mainly face monster one at a time with with a few that come out with three at once. The atmosphere in the levels is gripping and pulls you into the creepiness of what has become of the ship and the crew. Many of the levels are long and difficult with the last 3 levels being very short. The game took me about 16 hours to complete. It never felt tedious to me and always compelled me to continue on.
The graphics in Cryostasis are amazing. Even on the lowest setting they are very detailed where it can be hard to notice the differences at first glance. On the highest setting, they are amazing with realistic water effects and ice freezing. The water flows in a realistic way when thawing that it can look real. The way the ice crumbles to pieces is neat as you see the little pieces fall part on to the ground and stay there and can be adjusted too in the ini settings. The animations for enemies look very natural and feel real and smooth that even your own fighting animations can be timed in rhythm. If you play the game with PhysX on, the graphical effects are even more amazing. PhysX didn't seem to support anything below shader 4.0 with no window mode. This game has a reputation of having some of the best graphics, comparable with Crysis on the PC. However, it has no multi-core support so it can be rough on all but the high end computers in the 3.0 ghz range
There is no music in the game and it's all atmospheric effects. This can create an uneasiness to the atmosphere when exploring the environment an helps keep you in the mood no matter what you are doing. So even combat does not ruin the horror but adds to the tension. The sound effects are great from the blowing of the wind, to the power turning on, to the swoosh of a weapon swing. The gun sounds are authentic and sound powerful like you are using a real gun. The voice acting for the game is surprisingly good even if it is in English. The Russian accents are not silly where they will ruin the atmosphere but sound possibly like what a real Russian person speaking English would sound.
I really enjoyed playing Cryostasis. The story is amazingly written with complex and human characters that make mistakes. It avoids the stereotypical and cliche good vs evil and shallow NPC's that feel artificial. The graphics in the game are really amazing no matter what the settings they are on. The water and ice effects seem very realistic and impressive. You can get this game on steam, DRM free on GOG for $10, DRM free on GamersGate for $13 or you can find it DRM free as a physical copy somewhere. Overall, I would recommend this game to experience great atmosphere and story.