Cryostasis Reader Review
cryostasis takes place on a russian nuclear icebreaker, somewhere at the north pole. the crew is mostly dead, so you're alone most of the time. the main character is a slow moving guy, with a weak and short sprint, but he's got some weird psychic abilities to compensate.
the levels are mostly comprised of dark corridors and rooms full of machinery and pipes. it may sound boring, but, surprisingly it's not. don't think that the corridors are similar to those from fear 1, mostly empty and drab rooms, because the game's visual effects, which are excellent, make up for it. water pouring down the walls, snow blowing through broken windows, sources of heat being turned on and casting a reddish glows around that melts nearby stalactites, frost on the screen when the temperature is very low and black and white or grain filters applied in different situations are just some examples.
there aren't a ton of different enemy types, but the combat is pretty sparse and it's evenly mixed with puzzles and story, so i didn't feel the need for more.
the combat is a combination of melee and shooting. for the first few levels you'll be limited to melee weapons, the strongest of which is an axe, after which you'll start finding different weapons. the gunplay is slow, it takes quite a while for everyone to reload their weapons, the main guy and the enemies, but this isn't a drawback. it keeps the game's vibe more towards survival horror.
the puzzles are fun. most of them are pretty easy, but a few had me stop and think. thankfully they're not of the resident evil/silent hill sort of find the 2 statues and place them in the alcoves and them rotate them 'til they face north-east, etc. some puzzles are environmental, while others require you to enter the mind of the dead crew members. as i said, the guy has some psychic powers which allow him to relive the last moments of a dead person. you then have to do some things differently than the dead guy did, thus saving his life and enabling you to proceed past a usually blocked path.
although probably most of the crew is dead, you get to meet them through occasional flashbacks, which also allow you to see how the ship looked before the crash, which is a bit more colourful and lively. these sequences are made all the better thanks to the animation of the characters being very detailed. all the characters actions that feel natural and they're a pleasure to watch doing just about anything.
the voice acting is excellent, with characters sounding tired and worn out. the dialogue is realistic and powerful, and it gives all of the story developments the appropriate impact.
the story is presented on two parallel planes. one is told through the flashbacks and the other through found drawings that are scattered around the ship, which show you a different journey, narrated excellently in an old woman voice, that will make you feel like you're listening to your grandma next to the fireplace retelling something from her childhood.
the level design is linear, which works well here, because you don't need to backtrack so you're always exploring a new part of the ship.
there's no health in the game, body temperature. which means that whenever you get hit, your temperature drops, which also happens when you go to colder areas of the ship. when you're in a colder place your temperature drops constantly, which makes creates tension and pushes you forward. it's not frustrating, though, since there are valves or light bulbs or various machines around that emit heat, so you can take your gloves off and warm-up. they're evenly spread, so as long as you quick-save after a fight you should be able to get through most situations without too much trouble.
one of the things that could have used some improving would be the jumping. there are some sections with broken floor that require a running jump across, but this isn't mirror's edge, so you'd better quicksave before attempting any wall running. thankfully there's not much of jumping around, maybe 2 or 3 sequences max, so it's no biggie.
another downside is the few insta-death moments, like when you have to make your way across a pool of electrified water. these moments don't occur too often either, but since reloading after a death takes about half a minute, they're a bit annoying.
the game's similar to penumbra in style, but a lot more polished and maybe a bit less tense overall (don't get me wrong here, there are tense moments here, but the tension is broken down by the story expositions, which are most welcome).
the story is very well written and keeps you pushing forward, so if you like horror and a cool story, give it a shot.
not gonna score the game since you should already know whether this is something for you or not, without a number added at the end.