Icy is a monotonous slog through an uninspired and paper-thin game. Not only is the game a chore to sit through, but it’s buggy on top of everything else. There are some decent plot points and adequate revelations to this game, but it’s all marred by Icy’s complete lack of effort. There isn’t one visual element in this game that has more than one frame, consisting entirely of stoic and imbalanced artwork ranging from acceptable to laughable. Simply put, Icy needs to burn.
WHAT WE LIKED
º Storyline has some really engaging and depressing moments.
º Some of the artwork is pretty good and fits in nicely with the tone.
º Resources come and go quickly, so trade is absolutely essential.
WHAT WE DISLIKED
º Visually and auditorily there is nothing to stimulate the senses.
º Gameplay is repetitive and boring on an unprecedented scale.
º The writing is awful, filled with eccentric and unrealistic dialogue.
When you’re playing Icy, you’ll feel very much like the game’s characters; cold, alone and wishing you were anywhere else. Icy: Journey To The White Wasteland doesn’t provide a rewarding story, interesting gameplay, or anything that would keep the average gamer progressing forward. I couldn’t imagine most people playing it past the first few hours. When I lay out all of the game’s parts, everything about it is a missed opportunity, and I’ll gladly tell you why.
The game offers nothing other than static images. There’s nothing visually appealing here, and characters will ignorantly smile while they’re supposed to be in life-shattering pain. Even the art style was clearly drawn by several differently skilled artists, resulting in locations and characters looking vastly different. The interfaces are drab, and insufferable- and considering you’re going to be looking at them a lot, you’re bound to get bored of them pretty quickly.
The dialogue between characters feels like a dating sim; nothing but boring and poorly written conversations between headshots. At least in those games, there might actually be some bedroom action at the end of your discussions. In this game, you just constantly talk about the mission at hand- there’s very little in terms of character building. The characters are always talking about the next town, discussing strategies you can’t influence, that most likely will just lead to breaking into a building or something.
The game does attempt connecting you to the characters, by having your posse occasionally interrupt the game to pull you aside to tell you their darkest secrets. This isn’t the way it should be done; people don’t just ask to speak with you, and then tell you that they were abandoned as a child. In a game so conversation-centric, I expected the developers to sway me into caring for the people I’m trying to save.
Even if you do find yourself being pulled into the story, it’ll still aggravate you when the dialogue boxes suddenly decide that you’re done with a paragraph only after a few seconds. That’s right, the game will arbitrarily send you onto the next text box, regardless if you want to. If it’s being particularly cheeky, Icy will sometimes decide that you need to go back over the paragraph again, ignoring your constant clicks to proceed.
But don’t worry though, the game’s edgy; with characters constantly saying ‘fuck’ in the most inappropriate places. Evidently the design team just learned the word at recess, and they want to make the most out of their new discovery.
Movement in the game consists of being presented with a watercolor map that looks like it was done by a pissed off Bob Ross. The game tells you where to go, and you click on the map’s pushpin to go to that location. A small game piece that looks like three random survivors slowly slides across the map, destroying the one chance for this game to have any kind of animation. This game is so far from creating the wonder and exploration of The Banner Saga, it’s ridiculous.
When you do get to a city, you know- one of the best parts of an RPG, the game throws you yet another map. Looking like a blueprint, you can select one of the buildings to enter, with the most I ever saw in a city being three. This is no way to introduce your audience to a town. Even the background paintings of the cities and buildings are weak, offering nothing memorable about them at all. They’re usually covered in snow and hidden behind white sheets of laziness.
While on the map, you can hunt if you’re in the woods or scavenging when you’re near a building. When you go hunting, the game gives you a random animal to kill by clicking a button, and then another animal throws themselves at you. You may take damage, regardless of what choice you make, so it’s all random. If you enter a building, you’ll have to get past a door, falled stairway or locked safe, and then more often than not the roof will collapse, leaving you to make a choice that’s just as random as the battle system. It’s the same thing, over and over.
Every time you perform a search, the game asks you how much time you’d like to spend doing the task; the longer the time, the lower the risk. I never once had a ‘risk’ show up. The game will ask you what supply you’ll use to get past these obstacles if you happen to have them. So make sure you’re stocked up on supplies. Any of this sounding fun? Of course it doesn’t, that’s why Walking Dead: Survival Instinct failed, and at least in that game you could shoot zombies in the face.
It also doesn’t mention that the game doesn’t auto-save, or even show you how to save. After an hour of playing, I forgot to look at my rapidly depleting food, and I had to replay everything I did. Luckily, since I could click through all the dialogue, it was really only about 5 minutes worth of actual of gameplay.
While I’m on the subject of things worth skipping; the story is non-existent. You’re someone who’s lost their memory in an avalanche, and you’ve been taken into a small group of survivors, trying to survive in an endless winter. Stark jokes aside, your group really doesn’t have any other plans than just saving some kidnapped friends, to which they argue about over and over. Your character throws in his own dialogue twists, but it doesn’t change anything at all, as the game leads you by the hand to your next destination.
You know what the best part is? The game is buggy as hell. The left button is used for navigating around the map, and setting your waypoint marker, leading to unintended clicks and lost time and food. It especially doesn’t help when it registers phantom clicks when you’re trying to drag the map around looking for your next destination.
Better yet, you’ll spend 45 bullets at a trading post, only for the game to rob you of the merchandise you just bought! When you build a game around scarcity, you better make damn sure players aren’t getting screwed over such heinous oversights. That’s not just bad programming, that means they didn’t even go back through and find these flaws. It happened to me multiple times, from vendors who are key to the plot!
Even better yet, the choices you do make in the game are broken. Simply, broken. I was sent to a kill a ‘murderer’ named Bertrand for some information, but when we found him he disputed the claim. He offered to take us to find the man we were looking for, in exchange for his life. We agreed. When we found him, he asked to join us. After discussing it with my crew, I told him to hit the bricks, and he sadly said he was leaving. Then, after discussing with the group the new plan, Bertrand chimed in, saying he was excited to be going along. He continued in our party, despite me telling him to leave.
The whole game just feels out of time- like a long lost relic from the age of Newgrounds. In fact, I could imagine this game easily playing on that site. There are no character animations, no voice over, no videos- it’s barely a step up from the Oregon Trail because in that game you could actually shoot the buffalo.
The only kind of effects in the game is sound effects- really bad, outdated and comical sound effects. They only show up occasionally, like when someone starts shooting at your group or something, but they’re so typical and boring. I felt like a canned laugh track was the only thing missing from this assortment of 1001 Sound Effects off the 10 dollar CD. The music features low nasally chants over an assortment of dog whistles, that made me remove my headphones several times in fear that my brains were being scrambled. Eventually, I took them off completely, giving me a much better experience. Seriously, how bad is your game when I choose to not have any effects?
This game is simply a weak attempt at creating an engaging RPG. It feels unpolished, and when you finally get the hang of the game, you’ll be so bored with its design. There’s no real challenge here, nothing really in terms of strategy or choices. The game simply isn’t worth 10 dollars, and I’m not even sure it’s worth half of that. I wanted to like this game, but all I got was frustration and a severe lack of boredom from this uninspired and insipid game.
· Publisher – Digital Tribe
· Developer – Inner Void
· Genre – RPG, Strategy
· Release Date – July 27th, 2015
· Version Reviewed – PC
· PEGI Rating – N/A
· Multiplayer – No