One Small Step For Man
Nothing says Sci Fi like crashing onto an unknown planet, barely alive! In Cryo, an anonymous act of sabotage has sent your ship plummeting to the surface of a frozen uncharted planet. There, leaders of separate factions compete to survive. As a leader you are the only one to come out of cryo-stasis and so your job is to collect the rest of your team, all conveniantly frozen in cryo-pods. Damaged beyond repair, the scattered remains will do little to protect you from the brutal cold and so on top of everything you will need to claim control over the underground caverns before the deadly chill of night kicks in. From designers Tom Jolly and Luke Laurie, Cryo hit the atmosphere in 2021 fitting the year’s theme of being stuck alone trying to survive, perfectly.
Life Finds A Way
The gorgeous, vibrant board is split into two main areas. Above ground, a worker placement game. The ship is in four main parts. There is engineering where you will collect crystals, a fuel source which you can use to generate power. This power will be instrumental in transporting your crew to the safety of the caverns later in the game. The Laboratory has all the organics you need to sustain the life of your crew. So don’t go trying to collect their pods without the nutrition to keep them alive for the trip.
The technical department will allow you to use blueprints to build the transport vehicles. And finally there have the nanotech lab where microscopic robots (a wild resource) will help you create anything you desire. These four resources are what you will need to power drones to explore the planet’s surface for your scattered crew pods, and get them to a safe hiding place. But getting them isn’t going to be easy.
Each player has their own individual board and three drones (workers), which can be sent out to collect resources or cryo-pods. Each drone platform can also be upgraded in several ways in order to trade resources as your drones are recalled each round. This upgrading adds a great ramping up in production as the game moves along.
The S-cavern-ger Hunt
The bottom half of the board is made of caverns of different sizes, all calling out to be discovered. This is where the area control element takes place. As you move your crew’s cryo-pods into the depths of the planet you will decide where to place them. These positions cannot be changed, and so careful picking is important.
At the end of the game, you will get victory points for each cavern you have the majority share of. Some, if you are lucky, offer points for second place. But with limited pods available and even more limited time to collect them, you will need to decide to either go far and thin or build up on those bigger scoring areas. The strongest mechanism here is the vehicle cards used to transport the crew. Each card is predominantly made up of vehicles, that will be slid onto the bottom of your personal board, that all have a set amount of space for pods, and some will come with a specific power.
However, all the cards have three potential uses in total. Slid onto the top of your board, you will be able to use an ongoing power such as reducing the number of resources needed for a specific action. Placing to the left of your board will give you end game scoring opportunities. You can only ever have three of each of these and they can’t be removed or doubled, so choose carefully. At the end of the game, all cards slotted into your board will be worth points and so filling these out is worth doing.
Infinity And Beyond?
Behind the great production, with fantastic art by Bree Lindsoe, Jasmine Radue, and Samuel R. Shimota that really captures the fell on 50s and 60s Sci-Fi and great plastic drones and pods, not to mention the double layer player boards is a really enjoyable game. Scaling well from 2-4 players, Cryo offers a thinky puzzle without ever being too overwhelming. There are also lots of options and plenty of worker placement spaces as not to feel too ‘take that’. I am not sure that this game will live on in the annals of time but as a light to mid-weight worker placement, there is a lot to explore!