I’m not sure exactly who started the trend of bleak survival RPGs that currently plagues the PC market, but I hope they run out of stamina while foraging for supplies in a spooky, run down shack. It seems these days that if an indie developer wants to make a name for themselves they just write up a hardcore survival game and push it through Steam as fast as they can. A few developers have managed to separate themselves from the pack by offering something a little more than what the standard fare can bring to the table. ICY, the latest game from Italian developer Inner Void, tears itself from the crowd by offering quite a bit more roleplaying as well as some very beautiful, hand made graphics.
It is not, however, without its issues.
The story should be one that every modern gamer is familiar with. Many years after a terrible calamity has befallen the planet, you, an amnesiac with the proclivity to take anything that isn’t nailed down, must lead a group of nomads through the terrible frozen tundra that is the main setting for the game. Food must be hunted, tools and weapons scavenged, and bandits must be destroyed before they can destroy you. ICY doesn’t stray very far from the path set before it by earlier survival titles. You have different meters, each representing an important aspect of survival: ammo, food, water, health, etc. Go too long without one and you’ll get a GAMEOVER screen quicker than you can say ‘frostbite.’
Random events, actions, and dialogue all appear in a window in which you are given several choices, be they conversational, moral, or combat related. During combat each group is represented with two bars, health and moral, and if either one is depleted the fight is over. Having different equipment or skills affects these options, although they are typically limited in scope. You can attack with your bows, your guns, melee, or grenades. You can make a ‘good’ moral choice, say talking through your differences and reaching peace, a ‘bad’ moral choice, such as shooting everyone and taking their valuables, or a strictly neutral one.
Since this is a roleplaying game one could expect it to be a story driven experience, and one would be right. After the sudden death of your nomadic leader and the subsequent bandit raid you are thrust into the role of providing for your family of wanderers. Unfortunately several of your band have been captured by mysterious, well armed, unknown mercenaries and it’s up to you and your ragtag group to save them.
Sadly, as interesting as the main story could be it’s still bogged down with a poor translation of the original text. While this may not be a big issue with more action oriented titles it’s a huge detriment for a game that relies almost entirely on its storytelling ability to keep the player engaged. With a purchase price of only $5.00, I would recommend ICY only to the hardcore survival enthusiasts who have been keeping this genre afloat already.