There's a lot going on in 1C's upcoming Cryostasis: Sleep of Reason, and not all of it makes sense. A body heat system that requires you to keep your temperature up while on board a frozen ship stuck in the middle of the Arctic Circle. Former crew members who've apparently come back from the dead to haunt the ship and do you grievous bodily harm. You can even step into the minds of NPCs and, then, travel back in time to change events in the past. All of this, plus some creepy scares, add up to an intriguing, if sometimes confusing game from 1C and developer Action Form.
You'll play as kick-butt, two-fisted meteorologist Alexander Nesterov, who mysteriously finds himself in the bowels of the "North Wind." By game's end, you'll make your way through the entire ship (which, developers told us, is about the height of a nine-story building), all the while uncovering what happened on board after it became stuck in the ice. That ice will be a constant problem for you as you make your way around. Because the ship is frozen, you'll need to keep a constant eye on both the outside temperature and your own body heat levels, measured by a small meter in the lower left-hand corner of the screen. If you stay exposed to the chill for too long, it's game over for Nesterov. Luckily (and perhaps illogically for a ship that's been stranded in the ice for very long), you'll find frequent spots where you can regain your body heat.
Once you've manged to warm back up, though, you'll probably have other problems on your hands in the form of psychotic enemies you'll encounter. The explanation for their appearance was a bit confusing to us, but the gist of it is that these are former crew members who were taken over by the cold when the North Wind was trapped; some fought for their lives and others embraced the cold, turning them into the enemies that want you dead. You'll start the game with just your bare hands to defend yourself, but soon enough you'll find weapons you can use, such as shotguns, rifles, and fire axes. The game is set in 1968, so don't expect laser cannons (or even submachine guns, for that matter) but a few good blasts from a tommy gun look to be enough to take down most enemies.
When you aren't warming your tootsies or blasting enemies back to the nether-reaches, Alexander will be using his mental echo ability--which will allow him to peer into the minds of other players and, even more oddly, travel back into the past to try to rectify things. For instance, during one level, you'll encounter a sailor who met an unfortunate end when a pane of glass exploded right in front of him, firing a shard of glass into his neck. Using the mental echo ability, you can travel back in time, take over that sailor's body just seconds before that explosion, and move him out of the way. It seems as though saving the different crew members who died on board in this manner will be a key to unlocking the story and reaching the end of Cryostasis.
With frozen combat, creepy-looking mummified bad guys, telepathy, and time travel of sorts, there's definitely an "everything but the kitchen sink" vibe happening with Cryostasis. Will that imaginative approach result in a varied experience? We'll find out when the game is released on PCs this October.