Sunday, June 3

Review: ICEY [Nintendo Switch eShop]


One trend that has been in the PC indie space for awhile, but that I hadn’t yet seen on the Switch to date, is games that include some sort of meta commentary on games themselves. Similar to how Deadpool notoriously breaks the fourth wall to acknowledge he’s in a comic book (or movie) and talk to the audience directly this can be quite effective and can make you think. In the case of the action slasher ICEY through the role of the narrator, who in this case seems to be the developer himself, you’ll end up gaining insights and likely entertain yourself by circumventing his expectations whenever possible.


Starting with the basics at its heart this is a side-scrolling slasher game, where you’ll be wielding your blade to hack your way through a pretty wide array of enemies with style. While you begin with a relatively small set of moves as you get upgrade opportunities you can add a significant number of additional ones, or choose to spend your points in making your current set more lethal. There gets to be a rhythm to combat after you get into the groove and you’ll certainly learn that some enemies are more lethal than others, so you’ll be forced to try to prioritize. Bosses can be particularly hard nuts to crack and using your dashes to evade their strikes and try to attack them from behind becomes a sensible common strategy.


What helps it apart, though not everyone may appreciate this aspect, is that once you’ve gotten your feet wet and get going the game will add a narrator. Without going into too much detail and ruining some of the humor and surprises it’s at this point that following your impulses rather than the road that is intended often leads to fun and some degree of rewards. The question these sorts of games inevitably leave you with is whether not doing as you’re told is truly an act of defiance or whether, since the game is designed for you to do that, you going against the grain is actually what’s intended.


If there’s a failing probably the foremost thought is whether without the meta component ICEY does a great deal to differentiate itself. In truth, probably not too much. As a whole while there’s nothing wrong with the slashing action there’s really not a great deal about it that would qualify as inspired either. The action is quick, you have an impressive move set at your disposal, and the enemies can be challenging. That said, by its nature there’s an element of repetition to it all and that is very much where the injection of the narrator and elements he introduces keep your interest. If nothing else the question is what you may find out next and that can be compelling.


In the end if you’ve not experienced a game that plays with concepts like these ICEY has some added value. Being prompted to think about the game and how you interact with it differently is always a bit of fun and thought provoking. Of course if you don’t have a taste for the slashing action there will be other opportunities as well. If you enjoy the genre, and appreciate a little something extra to wrap your head around, ICEY is worth your time though.

Score: 7.5

Pros:
  • Intense slashing action
  • A variety of available moves to work with
  • Meta commentary through the narrator/developer adds a layer of fun

Cons:
  • While the action is challenging and can be fun it’s hardly revolution
  • The meta commentary aspect is hit or miss in terms of value depending on whether you appreciate the gimmick of it
  • Without the meta commentary in place the experience would likely feel pretty generic overall