Thank you so much to PolarityFlow for providing a review code
The Metroidvania genre is really a hit or miss genre. There’s so many titles that go for the Metroidvania style gameplay that it’s become home to many great and not so great titles. Unfortunately, because of this many fun titles that aren’t as stellar as some of the greats in the genre fall into obscurity. Will that be the case for Cryogear? Let’s take a look and see.
Cryogear sees you playing as a clone named G.3.4.R You are the product of an attempt to create a clone army to fight against the Emperor AI. Things didn’t go as planned however, and you were the only successful clone that was created. It’s up to you to help reestablish the uplink towers around the game’s locations to find the whereabouts of the Emperor AI and unravel his secrets
The story here is plain in comparison to other Metroidvanias. It’s not bad, but it doesn’t develop enough to keep you enticed. For much of the game it isn’t really referenced. You only hear about it once in a while when you’re contacted, or when you find a spot to interact with left behind messages. A Metroidvania doesn’t need a strong story to stand out, but Cryogear’s isn’t doing it any favors.
Cryogear is a 2D Metroidvania. Your main objective as previously mentioned is to restart the uplinks that are dispersed all around the map.
You come equipped at the beginning of the game with nothing, but a baton. The baton is your melee weapon, but there are also 3 other long range type of weapon you can create. There’s the Blaster, the Lancer, and the Charger. Each weapon is a bit different in how they work so you can choose which one best suits you. The Blaster is fast, but weaker, the Lancer fires one shot at a time, but it’s stronger and the Charger has to charge its shot up, but it’s very powerful.
As you explore different areas, enemies in the form of killer robots will attack you. They come in all different shapes and are looking to turn you into a pile of spare parts. You really have to be ready to adapt, because the enemies vary in their approach to how they will take you out. Some are quite weak and attack up close, some fire from a distance and others float around like the Grim Reaper. Luckily, you have a tool that can help you take them out besides your weapons.
PSI is Cryogear’s special mechanic that allows you to absorb damage. Below your health bar in the top left corner is your PSI gauge. Holding the A button will cause a barrier to surround you and negate enemy attacks. Be careful though, as your PSI will run out and need to be charged. It’s also needed to perform melee attacks so it’s something you have to pay attention to.
Cryogear does offer some very light puzzle solving mechanics. Sometimes you’ll be required to solve a sequence of buttons and what order they need to be pressed in, to unlock a door, or stop some lasers from blocking your path. Other times you may have to move some crates around to access a previously inaccessible platform. The puzzles are too serious, but they’re worth being aware of. There’s also segments known as VR segments that see you moving across a map of red and blue colored blocks trying to reach the end. Touching the red blocks will hurt you and you’ll have to make it to the end to survive.
In every area you will find a few different machines that can aid you on your mission. The uplinks are necessary to find in every area and you’ll need to find at least two in an area to open up other locations. Uplinks can be used to heal yourself and to backup your data to the cloud (save your game). Once you have found two uplinks you’re also given the ability to teleport to that area from the map. Whatever area you last backed up progress in is also where you respawn upon death.
Other machines that you’ll come across are the storage crate to store items in, and a backup station that is a tall tower and will save your progress. You can also come across teleporters, that will bring you to different spots within an area.
Along the way in your adventure you will find some equipment and consumables that can help you. For example, there are different pieces of equipment that once found are synchronized to your character. Equipment will give you bonuses such as boosting a stat, or increasing your max PSI. The consumables you find are items such as injectors that can recover health or give a boost to your PSI regeneration. Items can be found sitting on top of platforms, inside lockers, and inside of chests. Be careful when you’re looking inside of a chest, however, because Cryogear has done players the favor of adding in Mimics (chests that are actually monsters).
Some areas you enter may have what is known as a “Guardian”. The Guardians are unique robots that are essentially the game’s version of boss fights. They’re placed around in a few of the locations, but it’s done in a strange manner. Many times I was coming into a room, only to suddenly realize it’s a boss fight. This isn’t necessarily an issue as it did succeed with the element of surprise, but they felt out of place. The Guardians have much more health than other enemies and are a bit harder. Overall, I found most of them to be kind of lackluster. I just didn’t gain any feeling of satisfaction after beating them. They didn’t drop any special items or give me a sense of accomplishment. I simply beat them and went on my merry way.
As you progress through the game you will find a few sections that are blocked off. Similar to many Metroidvanias you’ll have to find certain items to help you advance to certain areas. For example, there are advancements known as Cryo Modules that can be added to your weapons. The charger weapon receives a Cryo Module that gives your charge shot, the ability to slow down moving objects. There are other smaller items like this to find and you’re going to have to make sure you look out for them.
You can level up your character in Cryogear by spending energy that you gain from defeating enemies and looting chest. The energy system is very reminiscent of Dark Soul’s level up system. Anytime you’re at an uplink and if you have enough energy you can level up one of your four stats. Should you die you will lose all of your energy and you’ll have to backtrack to where you lost it in order to get it back. Thankfully uplinks and backup stations are plentiful so you’re never too far away from where you last were.
The 4 stats you can level up are vitality, strength, intellect, and agility. Each one is associated with one of your weapon types and provides an increase to your maximum health or PSI. You also get a skill point with every level which can be put in one of 4 skill trees. There’s a skill tree for each of the long range weapon types, but for some reason there’s no melee skill tree. Instead the last skill tree is miscellaneous upgrades like a health regeneration increase, and increasing drop rate for rare items. You can also unlock a few extra skills like double jumping, and your sprint turning into a hoverboard. I should note that these two abilities become available very early on.
Cryogear is an amusing adventure, but it falls flat compared to other titles in the genre. It’s gameplay is reminiscent of the 2D Metroid games, but it really doesn’t have enough going for it to make it stand out. There’s quite a bit of content, and some really nice level design, but it’s not overly unique. The combat is generic, the story is lackluster, and there’s nothing that truly makes Cryogear jump out at players.
Cryogear uses a pixel art design that unfortunately, doesn’t look all that well done. While I was impressed by the level and background designs, there were too many times where I felt the visuals were taking away from the game. Many of the enemies look very similar to one another and many of the objects you interact with look basic. The color palette doesn’t look all that enticing and once again I found many aspects of the visual design looked generic.
The soundtrack was alright and I liked some of the tunes that were played. The sound effects on the other hand were very annoying and I felt they detracted from the overall experience. Many of the sound effects were loud hums, or monotone sounds that felt hard on the ears.
I can happily report I did not experience any technical issues, during my playthrough of Cryogear.
Please don’t get me wrong, Cryogear is in no way a bad game. For fans of the Metroidvania genre this is worth picking up as it is an an enjoyable game. However, for those trying to pick out and find a few Metroidvanias that really stand out I don’t know if this will be one of them. You can definitely spend upwards of 8-12 hours with Cryogear, if you want to complete everything, which may be enticing for some. However, the combat’s a bit bland, there’s not much of a story, and the visual and audio design need some work. I think Cryogear is a good fit on the Switch it just needed more time in development to give it some more personality.
Nice Level & Background Design
Small Selection of Weapons Is Nice & Not Overwhelming
Sizable Amount of Content
Frequent Checkpoints so You Never Lose Too Much Progress
Generic Combat System
Guardian Fights Felt Out of Place & Poorly Designed