Making a game that stands out is harder than you might think. Not only do you need a unique concept, something that becomes increasingly difficult as more games release, it needs to be good, without hindering enjoyment. Some games accomplish this, a few stand out because of it and many are defined by said gimmick. This isn’t always a bad thing, the skillshot system is what made Bulletstorm so memorable, but it usually doesn’t end well. Icey might not reinvent the wheel in some aspects, it offers a different take on genre norms. With a cute girl, vibrant worlds and plenty of sword swinging action, is Icey a must or should gamers give it the cold shoulder?
What makes Icey unique is how the story is presented. Instead of having characters interact with each other or give scenes context, Icey is told through narration. As a result, your motivations for killing Judas are kind of vague and some of the choices you make are a little harder to understand, but it allows for some fun interactions.
The narrator often notes that Icey should listen to them and follow the arrows if she wants to kill Judas. These oddly specific notes are clues that there are other paths to take. Some paths will lead to hidden rooms, including one that mentions playing another game like Koi, with others having unique bosses or items. None of these secrets are particularly well hidden, not that they’re suppose to be, making the experience more about examining what’s around the box, instead of the box itself. That being said, these experiences quickly go from refreshing to tedious.
At first annoying the narrator is amusing, like one of the first rooms is a rant about trophy collectors, but they quickly become annoying and tedious. Some berate you for doing this or not doing that and others include some meta elements. These would likely be better in a longer experience or fewer in quality, but still something to look out for.
As the narrator notes on a couple occasions, Icey isn’t a visual novel or any of that, but a hack and slash game. As such, the combat is fast and about precision dodging, juggling enemies and playing smart.
Most encounters are pretty simple. There will be a couple of enemies, you want to prioritize the most dangerous one, usually the floating laser eyes and make your way through the enemies. At times enemies will get a cheap shot in or chain attacks, which is where finishing moves come into play.
Once an enemy is low on health, Icey can destroy them for health and shards to do an attack that hits every enemy on the map. Mastery of this will determine how easy your experience is. But, like most hack and slash games, defense is also important.
One of the best and worst mechanics in Icey is the dash. In some ways it works as you expect and in others it doesn’t. Dash can be used to avoid some damage, but it’s meant as a parry. Dashing into attacks will often result in Icey being hit, so these need to be timed with the attack and executed before you collide with the attack. These can often be hard to gauge, sometimes resulting in players taking more damage than necessary, making it a mechanic that you might want to avoid.
On the surface, Icey is a colorful and at times interesting to look at hack and slash game, with fairly generic and occasionally cumbersome controls. Thankfully, mastery of all the mechanics isn’t required to beat Icey, even on the highest difficulty, but there will be times when you take damage because of how they’re set up. Despite the largely non-existent story, the narrator concept works well, at least in small doses and is one of the more enjoyable parts. Sure, sometimes the rants wear on your nerves or serve no real purpose, but they’re still different enough to make the experience memorable. In the end, if you enjoy colorful and fun hack and slash games, Icey is a lot of fun, where as those looking for a long experience, soul crushing difficulty or an amazing story, odds are you’ll be disappointed.
[Editor’s Note: Icey was reviewed on PS4 platform. The game was provided to us by the publisher for review purposes.]ICEY Review,