Normally, the sensation of fear can be translated into chills travelling through the spine and cold itself can favor the appearance of a sensation of restlessness, even if it’s rarely justified. Action Forms, a young Russian company, decided to combine these two factors, fear and cold, into a brand-new survival-horror titled Cryostasis: Sleep of Reason.
Alexander Nesterov is a bold Russian meteorologist who roams the frozen wastes of the North Pole, driven by scientific curiosity. But blizzards and below-zero temperatures are unforgiving even with a seasoned explorer, and so our hero finds himself in the company of his trusted Huskies. With their superior orientation skills, these faithful companions manage to pull him towards what appears to be a Russian-ice breaker.
As the Japanese are known to miniature everything they get their hands on, the Russian are known to do just the opposite, and the North Wind makes no exception. The huge ice-breaker, however, appears to be in a critical state itself, trapped in the ice and with the crew having suffered terrible mutations from the cold environment, being less than friendly in every encounter.
Alexander must discover what happened to the ship, as nothing seems to indicate a simple accident, find sources of heat to keep him alive and battle the unfriendly crewmen who shoot first and don’t ask anything later. The entire action takes place aboard the North Wind, which turns out to be quite a chilling place. Ice flowers bloom on door handles, any liquid spilled on the floor turned into ice and the sound of blizzard can be heard from outside, and all elements coming together to create an atmosphere of freezing cold.
An interesting element implemented by the producers is this very dynamic of using heat sources to stay alive. Alexander doesn’t have any hit points, just the body heat level. Spend too much time outside, or just in a very cold room, and you will die rapidly. Furthermore, energy is regained by standing close to a heat-source, such as a heating pipe or a radiator, and in case of an emergency, even a light bulb or a desk light can be used. Also, the body heat drops or increases slowly depending on the environment, forcing you to always be on the move, looking for the next heat-source.
As in every horror title, the story has a great impact on the overall action and the environment it takes place in. And our hero is no mere meteorologist; he is capable of catching glimpses from the past, the recent one of the ship to be precise, which helps him put together the story of the disaster. These memories are activated once a certain area of the ship is reached, and they are masterfully done. However, the details offered in such a way are a bit sketchy.
As such, you will need to finish the game in order to fully understand what’s going on, otherwise the captain who seems to have lost his mind or the XO that threatens with Siberia will look like coming from another movie. Furthermore, a parallel story exists alongside the main story arc, about a tribe that travelled through a forest, which manages to remain parallel until the end, where if though the main plot it’s explained, the travelling tribe isn’t. Only by a long stretch of imagination the two may be combined, but even so it’s kind of “out there”.
Furthermore, the monsters (mutated crewmen) are not exactly explained, as in why this guy over here swirls an axe, or why this crewman has two oxygen tubes on his back and he’s playing with fire. Nevertheless, they are pretty aggressive and well-designed.