It took longer than I expected, but someone finally killed me in Cryofall, a multiplayer survival game that has a lot in common with Rust. As in Rust, I’m on a server with dozens of other people, all crafting gear, building bases (and raiding the bases others have built), mining for resources, and scavenging to survive. Unlike Rust, it doesn’t melt your PC with high fidelity graphics—Cryofall is top-down and sorta cartoony looking.
It’s a survival game, so you know the drill. Start with nothing, pick up rocks and sticks, and start using the wilderness as your own personal punching bag. Fell trees, build a campfire, kill some wimpy animals for meat, and run around looking for a bit of unclaimed land to call your own. Then build a base, mine for minerals, smelt ’em in furnaces, and wait for someone to come along and bash your bases’ walls down, murder you, and take all your stuff.
Finding that unclaimed land takes a while—there are a lot of players on this Cryofall server, which is why I’m surprised no one kills me for the first couple of hours. I see players regularly, and while they don’t interact with me, they don’t attack me, either.
That abruptly changes one night. As in Rust, wandering too close to someone’s base will bring them running out in a burst of hostile paranoia, even if their base is huge and well protected, and even if you’re just wearing a cloth shirt and cap and carrying a torch and obviously pose no threat and they’re dressed head-to-toe in full tactical gear with laser-sighted sniper rifles. Even if there’s just one of you and three of them.
There’s a little chase. I run, having nearly nothing to fight back with, and I’m mildly pleased to have cost them so many bullets because, despite the laser sights, they miss a lot. But still, I’m dead. Ironic, because the only reason I even went near the base was because I thought it might be a trading post. I’d been having trouble finding the herbs needed for healing tonics, and I thought maybe I could buy some. Alas.
As in Rust, when you die, you lose everything you’re carrying. For me, it’s a lot of stuff, not high-level gear but the components to hopefully build those things, or at least build the things I need to build those things. I’ve got lots of ore from mining and plants from gathering and various other resources I’ve been busily collecting for the past hour or so.
As I respawn at my base (which is a just bedroll and some workbenches), a little news ticker pops up on the right-hand side of my screen. That’s when I discover Cryofall will let you know exactly what’s become of your gear when you die.
And it feels like dying all over again.
“Your items are being looted,” it reads. “PumpY is going through your dropped items.”
“Your items are being looted,” it says next. “ReeferPro is going through your dropped items.”
“Your items are being looted,” it continues. “Urnazhole2002 is going through your dropped items.”
Those are the snipers (the names have been changed to protect the killers) who chased me down and murdered me, and now I’m getting detailed updates on how they’re digging around in my corpse’s pockets. Um. Thank you?
A new item appears in the news ticker. “Use a weapon or tool to damage this structure,” it says, showing a little icon of my bedroll. It pops up three more times. This is because I’m so annoyed at the news of my killers going through my loot that I’ve started punching my bed with my fists, using the only weapon I have left on the only target within range.
And finally, the conclusion: “Your items were taken! Urnazhole2002 has taken all of your dropped items.”
Okay. To be fair, I get that it’s a good thing that you not only know who killed you, but who took your stuff. It sets the stage for a little revenge mission, and establishes an enemy or a rivalry. It gives you a goal if you’re the type to bear a grudge. Maybe that’s better than being killed by some anonymous player and never getting the chance to repay the favor.
But it’s still pretty grating to wake up from death with no stuff and have to stare at a bunch of updates on how all your former stuff is being distributed amongst the people who just unceremoniously shot you in the brain.
It’s worth noting, some of this is my fault. Cryofall has a ‘Newbie Protection’ feature that lasts for your first few hours, which means that even if someone kills you, you’ll retain your inventory when you respawn. I turned that off because I wanted the full PvP experience, and that’s exactly what I got.
Also, you don’t even need to play Cryofall in PvP. There are PvE-only servers where players can’t kill each other and you can build and farm and craft to your heart’s content, only having to deal with enemy creatures instead of players.
And there is one part of Cryofall that is unquestionably good: You can download the demo for free on Steam, which gives you eight solid hours of play. No features locked off, it’s the full game, so you can try it out for a good long stretch. If you decide to buy it, you keep your progress and pick up right where you left off.