Cryogear Review

It seems that there is no escaping the influence if the Souls series. While it may not look like it, Cryogear‘s flow is heavily influenced by From Software’s seminal series, and while it does a passable job at the difficulty side of things, I never could quite get all that invested in the journey.

We play as G.3.A.R, a newly re-purposed clone who is enlisted immediately into a war against the Emperor AI, an evil entity seemingly bent on destroying this world. After a brief bit of exposition, we’re off in to this labyrinth of areas to find and connect to terminals and destroy his Guardians. How we go about that, and when, is pretty much up to us. Each of the areas have several exits linking them to the next, though some will be too hard to progress through before we reach a higher level, or acquire new tools.

It’s this openness that I found most difficult to get to grips with. There’s very little information given to us about each rooms purpose or features, so we need to explore fully before moving on. Switches unlock doors, or deactivate lasers across the other side of an area, and there’s a constant barrage of enemies to contend with along the way. It’s all too easy to spend time and energy getting to an area only to find it a dead end, or the switch to open it on the far end of a tricky section.

Cryogear really wants us to explore fully, and to be fair there’s usually something to find no matter where we go, even if that means backtracking afterwards. Some handy healing items, or a chest with some supplies in it go a long way to progressing, but for every successful trip, there’s another than grants little reward while draining us of the supplies we’ve worked hard to accrue. There’s very little story to follow too, making the journey feel a little soul-less. The platforming is fine, if a little unresponsive at times; trying to grab on to a ladder in the middle a jump felt a little too hit and miss for my liking. I found this disincentivised me to explore, which kind of ruins the point of the experience.

Our clone is able to defend themselves with a melee weapon at first – and it remains one of the most powerful attacks we have – but guns play a part in the combat. They come in handy for sure, with a fairly involved upgrade system available to improve each. It took me a little while to get my head around this system though, the info boxes coming across, as the rest of the game does, pretty vague. They are at least colour coded, so once each are acquired it’s easy to see where the points need to putting for each weapon.

Combat is a brief affair, with either us or them falling quickly. Most of our foes come at us head on, though there are harder variants that fly, or hang from above. Our clone is able to pop up a defensive shield using their energy, though I found this to akin to popping a band aid on a bullet wound – it might help a little, but ultimately we shouldn’t have gotten shot in the first place.

My biggest pet peeve with the guns though is that we can only fire on the 4 cardinal directions. Despite using the right stick to aim, there’s no analogue control to fire at all. This makes the already tough enemies even harder – we can’t kill them if we can’t hit them… Even just adding in diagonal fire would have made a world of difference. When it comes time to fight a Guardian, well, lets just say that I saw my fair share of deaths before beating them.

When we die – and boy, did we – we drop some stuff that needs collecting. Die again before grabbing it and it’s lost to the ether – much like a certain other title. There are at least some fairly forgiving checkpoints in the areas, fairly often meaning I respawned a matter of seconds away from getting it back. A crafting system allows us to create new weapons or healing items on the fly, so it pays to open every chest and destroy every crate. Again though, there were multiple times I’d used up all my items getting through an area, died and not only had to do it again, but without the items I used up on my last try.

Conclusion

There’s a good chance that you’re reading this and thinking “sounds like my cup of tea”. If you’re into tough, obtuse adventures that may or may not reward you for exploring and soldering on through multiple deaths, then there’s a good chance you’ll jive with Cryogear. If it’s more of an action type platformer you’re after though, then absolutely steer clear. The lack of direction, the unclear inventory and crafting system and combat mechanics will likely have you reaching for the off switch soon after starting.

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This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version. Game provided by the publisher.
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Good
  • Nice looking pixel art style
  • Plenty to explore...
Bad
  • ...though whether it'll inspire you to do so is another thing
  • Combat is hard, and lack of analogue aiming only compounds this
  • Obtuse crafting and upgrade system
  • No real direction in how to proceed
5
Average
Gameplay - 5
Graphics - 6
Audio - 4
Longevity - 5
Written by
I've been gaming since Spy vs Spy on the Master System, growing up as a Sega kid before realising the joy of multi-platform gaming. These days I can mostly be found on smaller indie titles, the occasional big RPG and doing poorly at Rainbow Six: Siege. Gamertag: Enaksan

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