Developer: Atomic Torch Studio
Release Date: April 29, 2021
Cryofall was part of the February 2020 Humble Choice, while it was still in Early Access. At the time, the only play choices were either player versus player or more cooperative servers, but it was designed to be an entirely online multiplayer experience. I was fairly sure that was going to mean it was Not For Me, even though I usually enjoy colony sims. I gave it a few hours anyway, and the thing that confirmed for me that – at least in its state at the time – that I wasn’t going to keep playing was the fact that your claim would experience decay, and eventual destruction, between play sessions. I knew that I didn’t have the time (or the desire, truthfully) to commit to it, so I wandered off and forgot about it entirely.
Cryofall fully released in April of 2021, and in October, they did the one thing that would draw me back in – they released a single player, decay-free way to play. This quick look is going to focus exclusively on the single player options & experience introduced in the R31 update.
I’m going to lead with my conclusion: I didn’t not enjoy the game, but I’m not sure I have any interest in returning to it. I like the gameplay loop of Cryofall; gather resources, discover new things, use Learning Points from quests & discoveries on your tech tree to be able to craft and construct things. The survival mechanics weren’t really to my taste (especially considering how much effort goes into keeping yourself fed & hydrated early on), and I wish that your character would start with basic tools and weapons if you’re going to be in an unsafe place right off the bat.
I did as the game suggested, and played on Survival difficulty (making sure, of course, that decay was turned off), but I think – for me – the game might be more enjoyable on Paradise, or by tweaking the settings. The early game is a whole lot of picking things up and trying to avoid all the things that want to murder you. It doesn’t take terribly long until the game walks you through getting your basic tools and weapons, but I still managed to get myself eaten by a wolf fairly early on.
A lot of things just felt like they were a smidgen off. I don’t much care for the land claim mechanic in a single player game – I much prefer just being able to build where I want. I dropped my initial settlement in the closest safe spot once I received a quest to do so, and now I feel tied to a spot I’m not sure I much care for. A pretty significant amount of resources go into the most basic of buildings, and there are a lot of things to gather, so I could see inventory becoming a real issue before too long.
I’m not 100% sure that this particular game translates well to a single player experience, although I can see how it would be a pretty cool buy-to-play survival MMO. Playing on my own, I can see a lot of things becoming tedious really quickly. Although I do really appreciate the fact that Atomic Torch Studio put the effort they did into making Cryofall work as a single player game, in a lot of ways, it feels like they did little more than give you an option to turn the other players off. Maybe a lot of this could be massaged into something more to my taste through choosing a different difficulty, and customizing the way my personal server works, but I’m not sure I’m engaged enough to put in the effort.
Any sort of indie MMO is kind of a tough prospect, never mind one that punishes you for not playing, so it doesn’t surprise me that Cryofall wasn’t a huge breakout hit. SteamDB estimates that Cryofall has sold between 94,100 and 258,700 copies on Steam, although Humble Choice subscribers and bundle buyers may have boosted that a bit over what it would have sold otherwise. Unfortunately, it hasn’t been able to maintain consistently high player counts. It is ranked 2072 out of 10,967 games released in 2021.