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Cryostasis: Sleep of Reason

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Cryostasis: Sleep of Reason is a first-person shooter/survival horror video game by Action Forms for Microsoft Windows. It was released on December 5th, 2008 in the CIS, February 27, 2009 in Europe and April 20, 2009 in North America.


The game story develops with help of a unique system called Mental Echo - the ability to penetrate another character's memory and change the actions taken by that character in the past. This can involve saving people's lives by taking over their bodies in their memories and changing the course of history.[1]

The game, being set in an arctic setting, employs body heat as a health meter - the player must use heat sources (such as lights or stoves) to replenish health.


Cryostasis takes place in 1981 on an Arktika class nuclear icebreaker called the North Wind, which has become shipwrecked near the North Pole. The main character, Alexander Nesterov, is a Russian meteorologist who finds himself aboard the ship and begins to investigate what happened. But he’s not alone, and the North Wind is now plagued by dead crewmen who have undergone a bizarre metamorphosis.

As the player fights his way through the ship, he learns what happened through visions of the past. The captain took a perilous course through the ice, ignoring the warnings of his first officer. After colliding with an iceberg and suffering significant damage, the first officer radioed HQ, which in turn ordered the ship to return to port for decommissioning. While the crew struggled to repair the damage over the course of several weeks, the captain is disgraced, forsaken by all the crew. During this time, the ice around them thickens, essentially freezing the ship in place and isolating the crew. In an attempt to regain the respect of his crew, and lead them out of their predicament, the captain attempts to free the ship from the ice by ramming it at full speed. His attempt is interrupted by the first officer, however, whose orders to abort the run by throwing the ship into full reverse result in the ship's engine room catching fire and the nuclear reactor core destabilizing. Consequently, the crew begins to suffer radiation poisoning and die before any external help can arrive.

These events roughly correlate to an old Russian tale, which is relayed through notes discovered throughout the game. Like the rise against the tale's protagonist Danko, the ship's crew members that rose against the captain began to transform into horrible creatures. Some of these creatures are surreally symbolic creations, particularly those associated with the convicts the ship was transporting - the jailer's whole face has been turned into an empty prison cell, for example, and one of the toughest opponents in the game resembles a walking guard tower: tall and monolithic, making a noise like a mechanical siren, armed with two fixed machine guns, and with two torches clasped in hands apparently fused to his head like searchlights.

Throughout the game, the main character comes across fallen crew members and has a chance to correct their mistakes. At the end of the game, the player encounters Chronos, the titan of time, who gives him the opportunity to correct the entire tragedy.

There are multiple paths to correcting the tragedy by changing the actions of one of three major characters. By possessing the soul of the first officer when he brings the telegraph regarding impending decommissioning to the captain and questions the captain's competence, the player may choose instead to descend into the ship, helping the crew with repairs and discarding the telegraph. This results in the captain not losing his morale, and the crew never losing faith in the captain. By possessing the chief engineer when he berates the despondent captain upon hearing the news, the player may choose instead to cheer up the captain by offering him a scale model of his ship to send back to headquarters, as a sign of his dedication. Finally, when the captain is trying to free the ship and is incapacitated by a window shattering in his face, the player may choose to have the chief security officer go to his side and help him up, rather than encouraging the first officer to take control. This results in the ship breaking free under the captain's actions, since the first officer no longer aborts the escape attempt, and the engine fire and nuclear reactor setbacks never occur. Any of these three changes result in the captain breaking free from the ice and being in good standing with his crew.

After the final flashback, the player is returned to the beginning of the game where he finds the icebreaker and falls through the ice. However, this time the crew appears on the ice outside the icebreaker, and the captain pulls the main character out of the freezing water.


The game is the first to make use of Nvidia PhysX real-time water physics as displayed in a tech demo of the game engine.


Aggregate scores
Aggregator Score
GameRankings 69.35[2]
Metacritic 69/100[3]
Review scores
Publication Score
Eurogamer 6/10[4]
G4 4/5[5]
Game Revolution B+[6]
GameSpot 8/10[7]
PC Gamer UK 40/100
  • KRI 2006 - "Best technologies"
  • KRI 2007 - "Best game graphics"

Cryostasis has received mixed reviews, scoring 69/100 on Metacritic based on 28 reviews. Resolution Magazine praised the game as "tense, frequently innovative and attractive," and claimed that "its shortcomings are definitely outweighed by its strengths," awarding it 78%.[8] Eurogamer was slightly more critical, awarding the game 6 out of 10 and stating that "it's not quite creative enough - its environments fall into a monotony of samey rooms and bulkheads - and its combat is too clunky to be delicious."[9] PC Format meanwhile awarded the game 83% and called it "A beautiful, yet flawed gem that offers up a thoroughly unique experience."[10] Gamespot awarded the game 8 out of 10, saying "Flashes of frozen brilliance help this cold-blooded horror game overcome its technological flaws...few horror games elicit chills as well as Cryostasis."[11] Cryostasis also became the winner of GameSpot's Special Achievement Award 2009 in the Best Story nomination.[12]


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