Who out there would like to experience taking charge of a group of survivors trying to make it in a post-apocalyptic world undergoing a new ice age? From Italian based developer, Inner Void comes a narrative-driven RPG with the feel of the text-based adventure games of old. As well as a text heavy story ICY also implements RPG and survival elements to add in some extra depth and emphasise your responsibilities as leader of the group. To help with the final stages of development ICY was also partially kickstarted, so have these last minute refinements paid off?
You are dropped in the shoes of an amnesiac protagonist who, after a series of events is thrown in to the position of leading a group of nomads though a desolate icy wasteland. Through our journey we are introduced to a world that has seen some apocalyptic event and has entered a new ice age where the last of civilization now faces a daily battle for survival. Here you must make your way across this fractured world littered with mercenaries, mutants and the last pockets of humanity. The script is very well written and it’s a surprise just how quickly you can get engrossed within this world which is great as this a heavily narrative driven title. Bleak and tense are the best way to describe the story but there’s also a nice amount of comic relief injected in to it.
Choices make up everything in this game. Settling group disputes, fight or flight and to loot or not to loot. In fact the game starts with quite a large decision; customising your character. You need to assign a number of points to each of your characters attributes with the key ones being mind, body and word. You could prioritise your mind granting you the ability to make smarter choices but doing so will lessen the effect you have of bending people’s decisions through the power of word and leave your body susceptible to cold temperatures. You really need to choose everything. Say for example you discover an abandoned rickety old building. Do you explore it for loot and risk the building collapsing or steer well clear. When it comes to talking with characters you are given a number of responses. These decisions at times can be a bit much and you may sometimes find yourself just clicking on anything just to help advance the story.
You travel across the world using an over-world map and an icon indicating your “family”. Clicking on the map moves the icon to that position however doing so will advance the current time consume your precious items such as food and fuel for your fires at night. Keeping these items stocked is key, as going to long without a certain supply will lead to an early game over. This is something you’re really going to want to avoid as there is no autosave, if you forget to save your progress you’ll have to repeat conversations and scenarios over and over again. There is also a little bit of an issue with navigation as the HUD is directly over the map, miss click an item and you will instantly start moving in that direction. This can be slightly irritating as it can use up some of your hard earned supplies.
Out in the field you can randomly encounter groups of mercenaries or mutants, in these situations you have another series of decisions to make first and foremost being run or fight. When engaging the enemy you have to be mindful of not only your own health but the health of your family and their moral. This goes for the enemy too, if you reduce their moral to zero they’ll flee from the fight, extinguish their health and…well that should be obvious. In battles you have multiple choices to make in order to take out the enemy such as taking them out with a gun, a bow or go for a stealthy takedown. The results are all determined by your skills with each. A neat feature is that bullets and currency are the same thing. Opting to use your gun to much in combat will greatly affect the number of resources you can barter for in local settlements.
Just looking at ICY it’s hard not to be impressed by the hand painted portraits. They really are gorgeous and perfectly capture this desolate environment you’re traversing. Likewise the soundtrack also really captures the tone of the game with some moody and at times almost haunting music. For such a heavily story based game it’s a bit unfortunate that there are quite a few mistakes in the text. You’re able to get along just fine with them but they are going to make you wince every time you spot one.
ICY is an engrossing experience that’ll get you hooked early on and eat up hours of your time just to see how different decisions can affect the flow of the game. The RPG and survival elements are well implemented and really add some depth and scope to the situation in which you find yourselves. The game does have some issues but the developer has said that they’ll be releasing regular patches as these problems emerge so we may see more of an improvement. This game is highly recommended for anyone looking for an enthralling story and something different from the predominantly action oriented survival games out there.
This review is based off a review code of ICY provided by Digital Tribe.
This review was originally published on the site GamersFTW which unfortunately has now been taken down. It’s been published on my personal blog, DanielVaughanReviews, out of respect for the developers/publishers that were kind enough to give me review copy of their game.