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Saturday | August 18, 2018
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Cryostatis (PC) Preview

Cryostatis (PC) Preview


We recently spent some time with Cryostatis developer Action Forms Limited and they let us play their forthcoming PhysX supported title. Many of you will have already tried out the graphics demo which has been available for a while. It certainly seems an ambitious title, but is it actually any good?

Cryostatis is set in 1981 and you, Alexander Nesterov, a Russian meteorologist have traveled to the North Pole on the lookout for the nuclear icebreaker North Wind. You end up shipwrecked under mysterious circumstances and it is your job to investigate the frozen wreckage in a very inhospitable climate. The game is firmly set in the mystery horror genre and we spent some time playing a few of the earlier levels.

Immediately you are armed with a flashlight and wearing only a fur coat it is your task to find out exactly what is going on in this strange place. You awake dazed and confused at the bottom of a crevice and most of your possessions are gone. This is when you begin to notice just how alive and vibrant the environment is. There is a howling wind sending flurries of snow and ice in all directions and the situation is perfectly cast as being oppressive and unsettling. The audio aspects are just as captivating, with metalwork groaning and the empty echoes of distant sounds echoing around you. The atmosphere is really dripping with tension and I found my heart was beating just that little bit faster than normal.

For our first hour or so of gameplay we didn’t run into many hostile creatures and combat wasn’t a prime focus of the level design. As you are only initially armed with your bare hands this is probably a good thing and anything you encounter is a challenge. The combat mechanic deserves some commentary: If you tap the right mouse button to throw a punch you can use it in conjunction with the movement keys to access a wealth of moves, such as an uppercut or side stroke. You can use a combination of these to unleash combo attacks and keep the enemies unable to fight back most of the time. It is quite difficult when first attempting however and I was swearing at the screen on a regular basis. After a little trial and error however it starts to make sense and you end up looking like an amateur boxer, taking on the foes around you. I was a little concerned however about the slightly off beat animations which didn’t quite look totally natural, however as a demo piece it gave a good indication of how the system will work when it hits retail. Clearly in my mind, the combat was not a focus of the game mechanic.

So while the combat side of the game is slightly underwhelming there are quite a few touches to raise Cryostatis out of the reams of FPS titles that hit the shelves. The environment for instance has received just about every graphical touch and attention to detail possible – you actually feel as if you are cold when you walk around due to the realistic recreation of ice pockets and icicles on every surface. Additionally and rather cleverly, this environment has an effect on your character because the icy cold lowers your body temperature which affects your health. As you move further into colder parts of the environmental setting then you will struggle to stay alive. You combat this by finding heat sources and raising your body heat and these range from plain light bulbs to open fires – once you absorb some heat for a few seconds then you are able to press on in search of answers. There is also a stamina readout which has a close connection with the strength of your attacks as well as how long you are able to sprint for. They are interesting concepts and work quite well from the time we spend playing several of the levels. Just like in real life you have to find ways to remain warm enough to keep breathing … yes, your biggest enemy in this game is the climate. Unfortunately, while the whole concept is refreshing and an interesting idea, there were quite a few heat sources around every corner, so the tension isn’t quite as pronounced as I would have liked.

The most impressive aspect of the game from our limited testing was the fascinating story and wonderfully scripted pace. The developers have hit the nail on the head with this game when it comes to immersing the player into a hostile and barren landscape with just enough information to form ideas and concepts as to what exactly is going on. There are twists and turns from time to time which keeps your mind active and thinking ahead.

Then we have the title’s Mental Echo system. As you progress further into the North Wind you stumble upon the remains of the ships crew. It is possible to read their memories to relive their final moments before they died. Tapping into the mind of a killed crew member also lets you see the world as it was before the ice age took a grip.

These jumps in time however also have an impact on the way the game plays. Sometimes you reach an impassible area in the present day and you have to jump back to the past and alter events to change time as it now is. I wouldn’t sit and try to make sense of it because when these kinds of time travelling escapades unravel, it is really just better going with the flow. These facets of the game are utterly fascinating and there is a great variety of tasks to complete to make progression further into the game. I wouldn’t want to detail some of the puzzles we had to complete because it would ruin the impact for the people wanting to purchase the title when it is released.

Overall, I have to say it was a very pleasant experience, and the 285 GTX Nvidia hardware we had access to during testing performed admirably well, powering both physx as well as the main graphics engine. While the combat side of the game appears to be slightly dodgy, both the storyline and immersive ideas more than make up for it. The creative minds behind the team also deserve some kudos for coming up with the ideas we experienced. While I don’t think this is going to be one of the games of the year in 2009, it certainly will be one of the more interesting.

Stay tuned to Gamingheaven for more information and a few review nearer release date.

About Author

Stuart Davidson

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