Cryostasis: Sleep of Reason Hands-On

This survival horror shooter gives new meaning to Cold War.


Icebreakers are not known for their comfort. With their hulls designed to crush through seasonal ice to keep important trade routes open, icebreakers are constantly lurching and known to roll even in moderate swells. As if that wasn't uncomfortable enough, developer Action Forms has added dead bodies and abominable snowmen to the North Wind, the nuclear-powered icebreaker that serves as the setting for the upcoming Cryostasis: Sleep of Reason.

I see dead people.
I see dead people.

It's 1968 and the North Wind is trapped in the ice near the Soviet arctic station Pole 21. Meteorologist Alexander Nesterov is stranded on the ship--how he got there, we have no idea. Along with his standard talent as a meteorologist for predicting the weather in the Arctic (100 percent chance of cold), Nesterov is also able to sense the memories of the dead. And of the dead, there are plenty--12 crew members have died on board the North Wind, and Nesterov is in a unique position to enter their memories to set things right.

When Nesterov approaches one of the dead crew, he triggers a mental echo--a flashback of the final moments of the crewman's life. We saw one crewman who had an unfortunate fight with a shipping crane and, well, the crane won. During the mental echo, Nesterov sprinted to the crane control to move the deadly hook away from the crewman. You don't actually go back to save his life, but the spirit is sufficiently moved by your actions in the mental echo to help you solve the mystery onboard the North Wind and, then, go on to rest in peace.

Resources are scarce on the North Wind. We found a rifle and a few rounds of ammunition, but mostly, we had to rely on an ice axe or our mitts to fend off the creatures that inhabit the ship. Somehow, the North Wind has become infested with monsters--monsters that don't like you. One giant mummy creature tried to off us with an axe of his own, and later, another ice monster hurled blocks of ice at us.

In order to survive, you'll have to stay warm. There are pockets of heat scattered throughout the North Wind, from steam pipes to smoldering fires, which can be used to stabilize your body heat, displayed in the lower left corner of the screen. If you lose enough body heat, you won't even be able to perform the simplest of tasks. We futilely tried to open a door for five minutes before a developer kindly walked over and explained the body heat system.

He must work out.
He must work out.

Set in such a creepy atmosphere--a blend of The Thing, The Sixth Sense, and BioShock-- Cryostasis is poised to offer plenty of scares when it's released in 2009. We suggest you bundle up.

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