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Preview of : Cryostasis - Sleep of Reason

The Arctic Circle, Russian North Pole station ‘Pole 21’, 1968 - Alexander Nesterov is a meteorologist sent to investigate the final hours of the North Wind, an old nuclear ice-breaker trapped in an icy grave. This steel beast once fought for its country, but during a dangerous mission it drifted into an ice trap slowly freezing to death every living thing on board.

Cryostasis ArtworkThis is the story of Cryostasis, the upcoming survival horror FPS from 1C and 505 Games, which I’ve been lucky enough to grab a preview screening down in the bowels of the Absolut Ice Bar in London which to me seemed to be quite an apt location considering the concept of the game itself.

You see there is no health bar in this game, nor any of that awful regenerating health malarkey which I have a personal dislike, what we have in this title is a temperature gauge or to be exact, two temperature gauges. Now the outer ring of the gauge represents the external temperature of your immediate vicinity while the inner ring represents your body temperature. This representation of the elements in the game add an element of survival to your game style as there are no health packs or dispensers to help raise your body temp,  you must actively seek sources of heat for that job, combined with your enemies dispensing cold damage to the main protagonist, it becomes essential to find something to warm you up before you keel over and die due to prolonged exposure to the extreme cold.

The harsh arctic conditions are very well represented visually too, with all the surfaces covered in frost, including your gloves and weapons, surfaces glisten as the light reflects off the frost that has coated everything in sight. Move to the external areas of the North Wind and you’re greeted with harsh arctic winds blowing into you, which in turn drops your body temperature also drastically decreases your view distance to maybe 3 or 4 foot in front of you. Along with this attention to detail visually, a lot of work has gone into the audio side of the game too, down to how the sound spreads in hot and cold environments.The development team meticulously recorded sounds in both temperature conditions so there is a notable difference in the audio aspect for the game.

Another feature of Cryostasis is the thermal dynamics, an example shown by Cryostasis ingameAnatoly Subbotin, PR and marketing manager for 1C, was a generator being switched on which in turn warmed up the room. The ice and snow which was visible slowly begins to melt into water and starts to run down the walls, the frost visible on your hands and weapon begins to fade and all of this is generated and calculated in real time.

During your time aboard the North Wind, you discover that the crew were split into two factions preceding the last moments of the doomed vessel, those who fought against the cold and those who succumbed to the cold, the latter of which comprise to be the enemies you encounter in the game. There are puzzles and riddles to be solved throughout the game including those from mental echoes, an ability the protagonist possesses. A mental echo allows the player to replay the last moments of a dead crew member giving you insight into what happened along with the chance to change the outcome of what happened to that one person, this also links in with the bigger mystery of what happened aboard the North Wind. Weaponry is scarce along with ammunition but the usual FPS assortment of weaponry is present, ranging from axes to bolt action Mosin Nagant rifles and PPSh-41 sub machine guns, as this is a Russian operation then Russian weaponry is the preferred flavour for use.

Cryostasis frostThough don’t expect this to be a visceral experience, this is portrayed as a survival horror FPS title so enemies won’t be swarming into your eyelids forcing you to ward off battalion sized divisions akin to Painkiller or Serious Sam, think of this more along the lines of the early stages of Doom 3. Areas will be relatively dark making you rely on a flashlight to illuminate the surroundings in cases, also thankfully there is no need to holster your weapon to use the flashlight but I do find it a shame that somehow mankind lost the ability to attach torches to weapons somewhere between the 1950’s and whenever Doom 3 is set, maybe duct tape isn't sticky on Mars? Anyways your torch will have a limited time frame of usage so don't think you can run about with it constantly switched on.

During the short presentation of the game it was evident that the graphics were on par with current generation of shooters also it seemed to be fairly polished too which indicates that it is not far from that final stamp of approval and mass shipping to various gaming boutiques, also system spec wise it should run nicely on mid range PC’s so thankfully it’s not a system breaker like Crysis is. Overall it is a title to keep in view of your gaming radar as I can see this being a very enjoyable game indeed.

Wedgeh | 10th July, 2008

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