Earlier on this year, a small team put their heads together and released a demo for their hypothermia-inducing apocalypse survival game, Icy. The feature-rich demo was anything but lacking, giving a great look into the concept the team had after launching their Indiegogo campaign. Now the game is available on Steam for $12.99. After testing the alpha demo last spring and being overall impressed with the potential of Icy, I was honored to get a chance to review the finished product, so let’s not waste any more time. A game like Icy is definitely a time-consuming experience, and the addiction of scavenging and exploring in a manner reminiscent of Oregon Trail keeps the excitement alive through the entire play-session.
From the start, the excellently-executed intro hasn’t changed much since the alpha. With a classic RPG style character creator the player picks their player skills and portrait. I wasn’t too impressed with the lack of portraits and variation of characters, so choosing a character that best suits you is a little difficult, lessening the immersion in character creation for me. The team at Inner Void does a great job however piecing together that unique atmosphere only Icy can deliver. The ambient sounds and music melt together in a balmy down that brings you right into the experience, making every interaction, every scavenging opportunity, every hunt feels as real as a survival RPG can. I seriously recommend playing this sitting in front of your air conditioner with a jacket on for an enhanced play session.
The introduction to Icy is very linear in order to set the stage, however afterwards the player is free to move about the map after the “tutorial” stage is over. Moving past the events in the beginning I did some scavenging and hunting, all while keeping in mind which skills my character had that would give me a higher chance of success. Each decision comes with a time and payoff balance that’s set in different risk levels, where the player is more or less susceptible to the dangers of the world. What I love about Icy aside from the great game world atmosphere is the combination of RPG, point-and-click, and what I can only describe as Oregon Trail style gameplay. It’s so well infused by Inner Void that you can sink hours into this game if you’re careful with resource management. There’s plenty to do, a decent-sized map, and on top of that there are plenty of random events that can range from short interactions to full-on side stories. Random encounters, fights, scavenging, and hunting caused me to ditch the main story to run through a forest to get to a house and along the way I almost lost half my party. Though in this particular event, I somehow gained an extra member who was never introduced and my character apparently knew her, so something is a little off with the chronology of events. It seems like some can be triggered that should have had a notify in the game script requiring other events to be completed first. I was a bit confused, but laughed it off because there was enough going on to keep me on the edge of my seat regardless. If Inner Void hammered out these things along with some grammar editing, it would be a more polished product.
There’s a lot of great art that supports Icy. The theme of the game never fades or switches unexpectedly, however some of the art looked a bit rushed. The game received its last bit of funding toward the end of April this year, and as a point and click where there’s nothing but portraits and scenes aside from the UI, it makes me wonder how much of the team was designated for art in a game that relies heavily on it.
Icy is great, unique game with potential for expansion (which would be awesome to see), however if I were the project lead, I would have released it as early access because there are enough elements that need to be tweaked to warrant monthly or bi-weekly updates or patches til the game feels a bit more complete. The concept is great, and the game is fun, but an indie studio needs a solid polished title to keep them in the game releasing future titles with equal or greater success. Back when I previewed the alpha, I noted some unnecessary racism toward the only person of color in the game, and since then I see that the only thing that’s changed is the slur used in the dialogue. As a developer, I’ve picked out these few things about Icy that if addressed in an update, it would make the game more enticing. Despite that, if I could say one thing to Inner Void it would be that this is one of my favorite titles to come out in 2015, and I could play it forever if they literally kept releasing expansions (maybe just five would suffice if you folks are listening). I enjoyed this game enough that I want to encourage this team to keep at it, because the story telling and game atmosphere are done well, and I can see a lot of great titles from them in the future.