There was a time when videogames were the exclusive purview of Japan and the United States. The industry was intrinsically linked to computer technology, and these were the nations that had it. That’s no longer true, of course. We talk about Chinese and Korean games every other day, and we can name at least five things that distinguish them from others made elsewhere. Well, I’d like to expand your horizons some ways to the West of them, to the Ukraine. There we’ll find Action Forms, a developer that released Cryostasis: Sleep of Reason, back in 2009.
Cryostasis is one of those games that, while you’re playing it, you’ll go through it like you would any shooter. Your most immediate concerns, such as trying to survive the relentless enemies, trying to stave off the biting cold, and puzzling your way through the Soviet ice breaker you’re exploring will keep you distracted. It’s only when you sit back as the credits roll that you’ll have time to ask yourself “What did I just play?” This is a shooter that is closer to Half-Life than it is to Call of Duty; the story is the focal point of the game, devoting most of its resources to fleshing out the world and the narrative, rather than the gunplay. Cryostasis, as a game, well executed. It’s simple but unforgiving, which seems to be a requirement for Eastern European games. As it turns out, nothing is easy when you’re aboard the North Wind nuclear icebreaker, even when you know exactly what must be done. There’s something particularly compelling about Cryostasis as a whole, but in order to get to the core of that, I’ll go into the game’s breeding and it’s cultural context.
Heady stuff, I know, but bear with me.
Continue reading → Cryostasis at the Green Dragon Inn