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Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Cryostasis: Sleep of Reason - The Ice Cold Review

Over the last couple days I decided to finally finish Cryostasis. Cryostasis is a horror FPS game that was released for the PC in May of last year. I picked it up during a Steam sale late last year after hearing a lot about it on other sites. Developed by Action Forms and published by 1C Company, this is one of the best horror games I have ever played.

Basically, Cryostasis is a first person shooter, you play as Alexander Nesterov a Russian meteorologist, who comes across the nuclear icebreaker North Wind while dog sledding in the north pole. After some events you end up aboard the ship and start to explore it. The crew is dead and in there place you find some crazy people who are out for blood.

The action in Cryostasis is a very slow paced game. You do not move extremely fast, even the sprint you can do isn't the fastest run I've ever seen. With the game taking place in the north pole your character is bundled in heavy winter gear which explains the slow pace.

The combat is interesting also. You get a combo of melee and firearms. The melee weapons work well enough but you eventually get your hands on a gun. The shooting feels really good but it like the moving is slow paced. Reloading in particular can be excruciatingly slow, but it ads to the tension when you have some monster running at you, it's so much fun. The game is set in 1981 but the guns all come from the WW2 era, like the Mosen and PPsh-1 but they're all fun to shoot. One thing to note is the game does a great job of making sure you have ammo. I never had an issue with running out of ammo. I remember having one time I was down to one clip for one rifle but I never had to go back to melee after finding my first gun. I like that balance. When a survival horror game or any FPS in general has a ton of ammo management it can take away from the experience but Cryostasis nails it perfectly.

Cryostasis has a very interesting visual style. Taking place in the cold, Cryostasis actually feels like a cold game. When the snow is blowing and the screen starts to ice up you feel like you're in the game. The way the ice clings to the walls and frosts up the weapons is amazing but all this comes at a price. Cryostasis is a real resource hog. To run it at max you'll need a pretty beefy machine, but it's really worth it. This was also the first game to use the Nvidia PhysX graphics features and it adds a lot of graphical effects to the game but also comes at a performance cost. The one thing that really stood out for me was when you're outside the boat, the blinding nature of the snow is unreal, clingy to life as you watch your health slowly run down.

Health in the game is handled in a different way. In this game heat equals health. As you explore the game you can find heat sources, be it a lamp or something on fire. You have to walk up to the heat and warm yourself to gain health. There are areas that are exposed to the extreme cold and you will slowly lose health until you get back to the "safety" of the inside.

Cryostasis is a scary game. I don't tend to really jump at horror movies but games are another story and this one is at the top of this heap. I had started playing this last year but after one part in particular I jumped so bad I had to quit. Like many horror games though once you learn it's tricks it's easy to see the scares coming but with Cryostasis even when the jumps gone it's still a creepy game. I'd have to put this one up there with the first Condemned as being the scariest game I've played.

But the scariest thing of all in this game are the bugs. I've heard that unpatched when you get to level 12 you can get stuck in a no clip mode and just fall out of the level. They did fix that and I never saw it in my play through, I did see other issues though. These were mainly in the form of crashes. I didn't have a single crash until the aforementioned level 12. It crashed once in level 12, then in level 13 the game would constantly crash. I kept playing, and in the levels 13, 14, and 15 I must of crashed about 30 times. It would happen maybe every 5 to 10 minutes give or take a few minutes. I did some research and didn't find the exact solution to my problem but some other tips helped me out. I verified my files on Steam and it found one that was broken, redownloaded it and all that stuff. I heard it was the patch that was redownloaded but I'm not certain on that. I also turned my Shader to 4.0 which is what the game calls DirectX 10. I took a frame rate hit, not much but it was noticeable. In the end it stopped the crashing and I was able to finish the game level 15 on, without a single crash. I have to take a point or so away due to the crashes being there to begin with but the game's story is so interesting I would of tried my best to finish it with the crashes going on.

In the end Cryostasis is a great game, I really enjoyed my time with it. The setting is unique and the story is extremely interesting. You can get this game on Steam for 12.99 at the time of this writing and I highly recommend it if you have the PC to run it.

Cryostasis: The Sleep of Reason - 8 out of 10

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