How long has it been since you heard a good ghost ship story?
How about a book that you couldn't put down because the situations within were so intriguing that you just have to read just one more page.
These two questions can be answered if you play Cryostasis.
To call this a game is putting it to shame, you're not really playing it as much as being thrust into a story from which you play the eyes of the audience gazing at the drama as it unfolds in front of you.
Your beginning is a mystery, your arrival at the ship a question that isn't to be answered easily. You are a observer, a survivor and a instrument of hope.
As you travel through the ship you will meet the past, it will consume you and make you choose a path, one which will change the very existence of peoples lives and events. You're fighting within the game is secondary, your not there to shoot at monsters, your there to save people, and with luck, yourself as well.
There are few games nowhere days I can say have drawn me to sit non stop for a whole day and want to finish to its completion. They generally haven't the atmosphere or story driven plot to keep my interest peaked enough to see it to the end, Cryostasis I can happily say did just that.
Not only did it have all the charm and draw of a excellent action horror book but it kept that pace clear and fresh throughout the entirety of the game. This I can only put down to it being pulled along by not one but three key stories, each interwoven so tightly that they push you to want to keep hunting the next chapter of the story.
There are niggles in the design, as I write this I did come across a few errors in the game, the odd crash here, the sudden death there, but they didn't subtract from the story. They were obstacles that needed clearing to allow me the find out more about the nuclear icebreaker called the North Wind and its ill fortune crew.
The story is also clever in its approach to telling the story, you aren't privy to all the events in chronological order, and views are seen through the eyes of those that make them. You will find yourself switching sides on regular intervals, sometimes you'll see the view point of the 2nd mate, sometimes the captain, even sometimes that of creatures of the non human variety. Your actions on seeing these events and what you do when you take over the body will effect the world around you, a wall covered in ice will disappear from existence as you take over the body of a ship mate and work to repair or remove it.
Also we have the characters less talked about, the glacier that traps the ship in the first place, the icy wind that tears at your body and vision and even the character of the ship. A being in its own right, that as you progress within seems to gently push you towards the places you are most needed.
Also something that hasn't been mentioned as the visuals on offer, from the costume designs of the crew and creatures, to the ship itself. Both being cleverly created to give you the right mood for each situation. The creatures are even better as they are made up of selections of the crew and should be given a look after you have pumped them full of lead.
In the end this is a great game, I think of it in the same way as similar games in the genre such as Call of Cathulu and Eternal Darkness, they are diamonds in a sea of rubbish horror shooters and I can only hope that this isn't the last we hear from the developers in terms of this style of game play.