There’s something rather intriguing about surviving in a desolate world, whether it be off in the frontiers of space or the futuristic version of our backyard. Going from scraping by to survive, up to a massive industrial empire, can be a wonderful dream come true. It’s why I have an undying love for titles like RimWorld, and what lured me towards CryoFall, a multiplayer colony survival title with a lot going for it. But does its goal of industrial wealth and prosperity transfer well into gameplay? Find out in my CryoFall review!
CryoFall is available exclusively on PC through Steam.
Humble Beginnings in an Unfamiliar Land
Given the nature of colony survival simulators, one would expect CryoFall to give a basic premise, letting you create your own stories to riches followed by your sudden downfall. While CryoFall understands this concept fairly well, it fails to meet the expectations of its competition. Your premise is that this desolate world is in ruin, swarmed by various adversaries which prove a serious threat to your existence. Working with other players, you must rebuild civilization, if you have any hope of returning it to its former glory. And that’s all there is to it.
You may ask “well isn’t that the exact definition of a basic premise?” and while you wouldn’t be wrong, there’s one crucial aspect that’s missing: lore breadcrumbs. To help prove my point, take the game Unturned for example. This title shares in a basic concept for players to work off of, but elevates this by breathing life into its world with notes scattered around. Using these, you can piece together what led civilization to its collapse. While I’d understand the lack of this feature in a procedurally generated landscape, CryoFall goes the route of a handcrafted world, making it hard to show the team any leniency. I haven’t even mentioned the environmental inconsistencies, with makeshift shacks and concrete walls being combined with cars not even our modern-day has reached.
For most, this isn’t much of an issue in the grand scheme of things. You’re here to build an industrial empire, not hunt tidbits of lore. Despite that, I can’t help but feel it’s a major missed opportunity, as it’d help sell the abandoned wasteland that many other aspects build up.
Making a Name for Yourself in CryoFall’s Forgotten World
As mentioned previously, colony survival simulators like CryoFall start you with little to nothing, forcing you to get a lay of the land if you are to make a name for yourself. Thanks to the clever use of quests, this process goes mostly without a hitch. Building your empire piece by piece, and reinventing aspects of your base once thought to be top of the line, is a satisfying experience all around that properly captures that dopamine hit you get from a large project reaching completion.
There are even unique strides in the game’s use of discovery as a means of progression. Throughout your adventures, everything you loot, hunt, eat, and battle rewards you with Learning Points (LP) which can be used towards research projects of your choosing. These can be acquired through the aforementioned quests too. Despite how abundant that may seem, this resource is surprisingly limited. It forces you into choosing what tailors your playstyle best. Do you wish to build up your farms and acquire a stable food supply, or would you rather arm yourself to take on the next big enemy that gets in your way? That choice alone helps CryoFall to stand out from the crowd and works very much in its favor.
Where CryoFall succeeds in the rapid expansion of colony survival, it fails to capture the engaging combat expected from titles like it. Don’t get me wrong, there is no shortage of tools to get the job done, with plenty of melee and ranged weapons to tailor your preferences. The issue lies in the AI of the monsters you’re facing, who have the mental capacity of a squirrel. The majority of hostiles you encounter will do one of two things. They’ll either run in a straight line away from you (including into walls) or towards you in a near-suicide attempt. This has some minor levels of challenge early on, as you’re limited to melee weapons. The moment you begin producing a decent amount of ammunition though, these encounters become trivial. Running and shooting becomes an instant win tactic, and that can get tiring quite quickly.
While CryoFall’s ability to offer a uniquely satisfying base-building experience works quite well, one can’t help but feel that the half-baked combat counteracts these benefits greatly, especially given the fact you’re forced into it so often. Without it, you simply won’t survive (or at least not very successfully).
Beauty in Desolation
For what it’s worth, CryoFall’s artistic direction is fairly solid, with its hand-crafted world featuring plenty of locations to explore. With its expectations for numerous players to fit into one server, there’s a surprising amount of thought put into road placements, region lines, and ruin locations. And each one does feel uniquely detailed, showcasing some wear and tear alongside the natural beauty of lush forests and barren deserts.
While not quite of the same quality, the audio design of CryoFall is serviceable enough to rarely feel distracting. Mind you it’s not perfect, as a rough thud isn’t exactly what’s expected of a knife slashing at a powerful boar, but its gun sounds and various tracks fit the game fairly well.
CryoFall offers a colony survival simulator which, while far from disappointing, isn’t anything to write home about either. It does have the satisfying base-building experience one would expect from the genre, combined with a solid atmosphere. With a half-baked combat system though, alongside a basic narrative, it does feel the game is far from its potential. Despite these hindrances, fans of colony survival titles should find CryoFall to be worth the admission price, if not much more.
- Decent background
- Unique strides in gameplay
- Base building is quite satisfying
- Good visuals and audio
- Combat is half-baked at best
- Missed story opportunities
- Rough edges here and there