ICEY is a 2D side scroller in which you take control of the titular ICEY, a young woman who has the ability to either follow the narrator’s guidance or ignore it and make her own story. The game breaks the fourth wall frequently, clashing the real world and game world together in clever and interesting ways.
You’re thrown directly into the action once you start a new game and the tutorial is presented seamlessly as you play through the introduction. It’s here that you are able to select your difficulty by answering a series of questions and then the game seems to crash and you’re sent back to the title screen. This sets the tone for the rest of the game as you are rejected entry this time and you must defy what the programming tells you, selecting the grayed out option several times before it allows you to start your journey.
As far as 2D side-scrollers go, ICEY is a rather compact experience and even on the hard difficulty can be completed in around 6-8 hours–a brief, but satisfying experience. The game offers responsive controls, slick and satisfying combo-based combat, and a fantastic soundtrack full of fast-paced electronic tracks well suited for dealing with baddies. At the narrator’s behest, you’ll travel from location to location to defeat the machines who support Judas, a madman who seeks to end the world.
It seems he’s doing a good job of it, too, because the game has a distinctly dystopian feel where crumbling structures and deserted streets are the centerpiece. There’s a distinct lack of organic life besides the game’s heroine and the enemies you’ll face are all mechanical in nature.
Combat is fast and furious. ICEY’s attacks consist of combinations of light and heavy attacks both on the ground and off of it. She can also unleash a charged attack by holding down square. The most useful ability is her dash, however, which can be upgraded to allow you to dash almost infinitely at some point during the story. Dashing just before an enemy hits you results in a slowdown that allows you to deal some serious damage without fear of retaliation. If you get an enemy’s health down low enough, a prompt will appear that lets you finish them with a flashy, violent blow. You can also purchase additional combos from stations littered throughout the areas in order to expand your repertoire.
There are only a handful of enemy types that you’ll continuously encounter during your adventures Bosses, however, are large, powerful bots with interesting physiques. They require you to memorize their attack patterns in order to counter them. They also have quite a bit of health and making use of the slowdown initiated by dodging an attack in the nick of time will be your best friend.
The game is pretty generous with checkpoints so falling in battle isn’t a huge deal, fortunately. It can get frustrating, however, because on hard enemies hit like a truck and can kill you in a few hits. Bosses especially resort to cheap AOEs, meaning you’ll spend more time dodging than attacking.
Level design is great. Each location has its own theme that careful attention to detail brings to life.
There are also hidden nooks and crannies you’ll find by straying off the guided path where you’ll find extra cash and hear additional narration applicable to the secret you’ve discovered.
Though ICEY’s quest is a serious one (as most adventures to save the world are), there are healthy amounts of humour sprinkled throughout. The narrator is a character–no pun intended–and he’ll complain about the developer, taunt ICEY when you choose to go against his commands, and otherwise colour the tale with his opinion. Chinese and English voice options are available, though in my opinion the former sound better.
Will you follow the story being read for you or make your own?
- The narration is great. The narrator has his very own personality and it encourages you to look at the game differently.
- The game is very meta in surprising and amusing ways.
- Combat is swift and brutal. Combos are satisfyingly flashy.
- The game looks great. Areas are highly detailed and even contain hidden Easter eggs.
- The OST is incredible.
- Offers some replayability. Choosing a different path will result in different events, though it won’t ultimately change the story.
- The game feels very brief, which is made even more noticeable because of how much fun you have while playing it.
- Enemies, particularly bosses, tend to resort to cheap shots on the harder difficulty.
- The difficulties could use balance.
- The OST isn’t free to download like it is on Steam. Which is a shame because it’s amazing.
ICEY’s only real drawback is its conciseness. The game’s controls and presentation are fantastic and the narration really brings it all together. For those who enjoy meta games like The Stanley Parable and don’t mind a helping of action-platforming, this is a solid recommendation. Just don’t get too attached because it’ll leave you wanting more. Short and oh-so sweet, ICEY is a great 2D side-scroller that any fans of action combat and platforming can enjoy.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Sony Playstation 4 code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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