12/06/2018

❄️Review: ICEY - Nintendo Switch "Almost ‘ICE’-cool" ❄️ #GameDev #IndieGame @BrittRecluseuk @kingdomofcarts

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Game Title: ICEY
Developer: Fantablade Network
Platform Reviewed: Switch
Rating: Melting
ICEY is a video game that has been around on the PC for a couple of years and has gained quite a fervent fan following, it’s blend of classic hack-and-slash gameplay paired with a meta-story approach and concepts have appealed to a wide audience, but if the story doesn’t grab you….what are you left with?

ICEY begins with the titular character being introduced by the omnipresent narrator:
“She has no memories and cares not, for she exists for no other reason other than to kill Judas.”
This was an interesting opening that piqued my interest in the game. Upon leaving the facility we meet our first enemies, mechanised minions of the briefly glimpsed ‘Judas’ character that come in many forms and attack ICEY in different ways. The controls are quite intuitive and reminded me of the flawed gem ‘Evil Genome’ in their fluidity and pretty soon I was swiping and dashing my way through enemies by the dozen. The game also features a nice mechanic whereby after an enemies’ ‘core’ is destroyed (essentially as you strike the killing blow) you can absorb their energy and cause a screen-wide blast which damages everything on-screen, it’s a simple concept but never fails to feel satisfying, as does most of the combat. There are several nodes scattered around which you can use to spend cash in order to upgrade your attacks and defences, which adds some variety to the battle mechanics.
Visually, ICEY is a real treat with lush, seemingly hand-painted exterior backgrounds and vast indoor sections which really are a joy to behold, alongside this is the pounding techno soundtrack which keeps you in the zone as you work through the game…there’s also the aforementioned narrator.
Without giving anything away, ICEY can be played in two ways, the narrator literally explains what’s happening onscreen and gives you arrows to follow alongside a running commentary of each location and action. He will say something like, “ICEY ignores the path to the warehouse and follows the arrow to the right in order to get closer to Judas” and so you can either go straight to the warehouse, earning the ire and exasperation of the narrator, or you can carry along following his commands. I played through the game twice, firstly by following the direct narrative (which leads to a VERY concise endgame within a couple of hours) and then again by ignoring his commands and passing through all the areas that I’d previously missed. I must admit that whilst I liked the Stanley Parable / Bucket Detective-esque irritable narrator, it felt somewhat underwhelming this time around and I think that the flat delivery took away from my interest in the story.
After finishing the game, I watched a video of the original Chinese version and whereas the narrator in that video has a harsher, more guttural vocal style, the Western game has a more jovial, slightly comical delivery that I found wearying and ironically, I felt that he was irritating me more than I (via ICEY) was irritating him with my in-game antics. Another couple of points in the game which felt slightly awkward were how the enemies could ‘juggle’ ICEY at some points, creaming my health as I watched helplessly and also how sometimes in certain battles I would corner the enemy and find myself slipping past them, affecting my attacks but these are pretty minor gripes and on the whole, the in-game fighting is a colourful, frantic and smooth experience.
ICEY is a very solid game that can be enjoyed at two levels, a superficial level in which you work through the fights in the game and the enormous, enjoyable boss battles on your way to hunt down the elusive Judas, or in a more in-depth, explorative way which leads to a more varied conclusion with some interesting unveilings.

Summary
Whilst I enjoyed the game, it misses out on an ‘ice-cool’ rating from me for a couple of reasons, one is that I just felt the narrative delivery was a bit weak and detracted from the tone of the game too much for me which resulted in my losing interest in the over-arching story behind the superficial fade of the game. This might seem harsh, but as the narration is so constant, it was a deal breaker for me, especially as the story is at heart a solid and nuanced one. Secondly, I was beginning to tire of the combat towards the end of an already brief game. I must re-state though that while it lasts, ICEY is a great game at a low price point which has an interesting approach, I just wish that they had kept the original Chinese narrator in the Switch release.
Right, I’m off to find my true self.
💧❄️ RATING: MELTING ❄️💧

Ratings Explained
ICE COOL (Great Game Recommended)
MELTING (Recommended with reservations, one to consider if you are a fan of the genre)
MELTED (Not A Recommended Purchase)
Review By Britt