A new trailer for Cryostasis is out, which I think will make it abundantly clear why I like Russian videogames so much.
Sure, they're weird, they're inaccessible and their difficulty usually scales from "hard" to "stab yourself in the eye with a fork." But games from Eastern Europe and Russia are also unique and inventive, in large part because game studios in the region don't seem to have any idea what they are, and aren't, supposed to do while making a game. Or maybe they just don't care: Someone comes up with a crazy idea and they run with it. So it seems to be with Cryostasis: Sleep of Reason, a new title by Action Forms that's already out in Russia and coming to the rest of the world in February.
The game takes place in the early 80s aboard a nuclear icebreaker that's been shipwrecked at the North Pole. A Russian meteorologist is dispatched to determine what happened, but as he discovers, things are not what they appear to be. The crew is dead, yet horribly changed by the intensely cold climate, and the main character must use his unique ability to enter their memories and change their actions in the past, thus changing history and saving their lives.
Does that make any sense to you? Of course not! Which is the brilliance of the whole thing. The game experience is heightened because it forces you to leave behind any preconceptions about what should and should not be in a videogame. Russian games, to borrow a phrase, are like a box of chocolates; there's absolutely no way to tell what you're sticking your hand into.
I do wonder if Cryostasis will suffer in the American market because of unfair or unreasonable comparisons to other games. It's been described as a "Russian BioShock," which may lead to inappropriate comparisons with the 2007 hit FPS. On the other hand, maybe it is just like BioShock. Who can tell?
And yes, I know Cryostasis was actually developed in Ukraine, not Russia. So was S.T.A.L.K.E.R. and everyone called it Russian, too. Check out the latest Cryostasis trailer at GameCyte, then tell us what you think: Is that some cool stuff or what?