Cryostasis – Still More Impressions…

Cryostasis – Still More Impressions after the break…

Cryostasis – Still More Impressions…

I’d like to think that I’m “almost done” with the computer game, “Cryostasis.” Here are more of my thoughts on it…

  • I can’t decide if this is a survival horror game pretending to be a puzzle game or a puzzle game desperately trying to be a survival horror game. The game has one good game play mechanic, “Cold = bad, warmth = good.” All the other mechanics – The “save the soul” mini-game, the “shoot / chop the monsters” combat, the non-interactive in-game cutscenes, the “read the postcard” narratives… They just don’t work.
  • Part of the reason why I’m not feeling scared (if this is supposed to be a survival horror game) is that I don’t know the nature of the enemies. For instance, there’s a type of enemy that uses welding torches as their weapon. OK… But why do they use that weapon? Why are there enemies at all? How were these type of enemies created? Why are these enemies after me? Are they “heat” zombies who, instead of eating brains like normal zombies, eat your “heat”? I know that some people don’t need reasons (“An enemy is an enemy and you just shoot them!”) but this isn’t a first-person shooter where you know you have to kill everything that moves… This is a game that purports to have a plot but that plot hasn’t been very revealing as to why everything is the way it is. If you can’t figure out why you should be scared then you have no incentive to be scared. What might have worked better is if there’s a brief cutscene showing that these enemies hate the living… Have them kill one of your sled dogs, for instance (No, I’m not advocating animal cruelty).
  • Another reason why I’m not as scared as the developers want me to be scared is that there really isn’t any scary scenery. It’s a cold, abandoned ship in the arctic but it doesn’t feel haunted. There aren’t any doors shutting suddenly or opening suddenly. No blood on the walls. No one frozen in horrified poses. No detached limbs. No writings on the wall to warn me (“Help me!” “Save us!” “Don’t open that door!” etc. so forth). No radios blurting out static that sound like deadly or warning messages. It’s just a lot of frosted over scenery that, on occasion, can be melted away. Perhaps if, as the frost melted, ominous scenes emerged, there might be some genuine fear.
  • These bosses (I’ve seen two) were weird but not scary. What was with “the spider boss”? I don’t know. Why did it want to harm me after “pointing out” what I needed to do? It seemed more friendly (obviously before trying to kill me) then deadly and I thought that maybe it was someone trying to escape or communicate…? I didn’t understand what the intentions were.  Also, what was with the “machine gun” boss? Again, no explanation, just a sudden “Hello there, I’m trying to kill you” appearance.
  • I think that the “postcard” story telling mechanic would actually be fairly good if the story that it told was more ominous in nature. Imagine if these were postcards that were written by the crew and they portrayed a deteriorating captain or a weird discovery in the arctic… People going increasingly crazy for an unknown reason… Something to ratchet up the tension.

Overall, I’m not enthused in continuing to play the game. I’m only playing it now to complete it and not to see “what is around the next corner.” My advice to game developers would be to look at the “cold is bad, heat is good” mechanic and distill that into a viable puzzle game.

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