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Review: ICEY (Nintendo Switch)By Sasari At 08.06.2018 21:29

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The game opens on the titular Icey awakening in a bacta tank style pod. She has been activated to achieve one goal, to kill a rather cliché villain known as Judas who has effectively taken over the world. Icey is the classic silent protagonist and all of this information is laid out by the narrator. He tries to lead Icey on a relatively short journey to the top of a clock tower to face off with this apparently evil antagonist, and following along is certainly an option… although it leads to a quick ending to the story… Instead, the player should explore where they are specifically told not to go, and in doing so open up a whole new story, which shows the development of the game, shows the narrator is actually a bitter and angry creator, and tells a quality meta story.

The core gameplay is enjoyable enough, although lacking in much to make it stand out from the countless other 2D platformers like it. Icey has a quick attack, a hard attack, a dodge, along with a double jump, and an air dash. Then she can be upgraded to unlock additional special moves, along with adding extra attacks onto chain combos. Icey uses these against a whole host of robotic enemies. From the speedy, little flying drones whose projectiles are telegraphed by their laser sights, to brawlin' bots with huge arms who can bounce and bodyslam Icey around the room. There are some inventive designs with the enemies, each with their own patterns and weaknesses to learn. They get much better as the game goes on, too; hugely rotund machines can devour Icey should she get too close, towering giants wield hammers that send out shockwaves and destroy Icey's protective shield, and so on.

Topping off each stage is a boss battle, and while each is a little too easy, there are some interesting battles to be had. Regardless of taking on the big bads or their cannon fodder, the combat is fun, especially after unlocking some of the extra abilities. Icey can rack up big combos by dashing through enemies, countering attacks, and then absorbing the energy of fallen foes to release huge attacks. There is a slight issue with the combat, though, in that the input can be very hit-and-miss, usually on the initial attack of a combo - a very noticeable little delay when hitting a button in both docked and portable mode.

As fun as the combat is, it's nothing that hasn't been done before, and in many cases done better. Where the game has its real strength is in its meta storytelling. ICEY certainly isn't the first game to interweave fourth-wall breaking and commentaries into the medium. It's been around since the early days of Monkey Island and has been done with aplomb by games like The Stanley Parable. Here, it's done quite well, but little flaws tend to let it down. There are, for instance, moments when Icey treks into unfinished moments of the game, the narrator laments her seeing this area, but then proceeds to explain some of the development process, how the game changed over the years, even giving a glimpse into the other versions of the title. There are moments when apparent disgruntled employees complain about the narrator's demands, and there's even a chance to play some other games.

The issue is that, despite these positive moments, they are marred somewhat by the terrible performance of the narrator and the stilted interactions from the game. Icey stands waiting for the next line or the next screen far too often, text moves too slowly, and the narrator speaks in a stiff and awkward manner; one that would fit with his acting as narrator, but one he doesn't switch from when addressing the player. This all adds up to moments that scream "Get on with it!"

While those moments may drag, the whole of the game lasts only a few hours, even with constantly going off the unbeaten track to hunt down all of the extra scenes. Thankfully, though, the developer has priced the game appropriately and this is well worth the £9 asking price. It certainly looks a lot better than its price-tag would imply, with some great looking sprites, smooth animations, and well choreographed, stylish attacks.

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Final Score
[i]ICEY[/i] has a lot going for it; the combat is fun, the story and writing smart, plus it has some great designs and animations. It's definitely an enjoyable little addition to the libraries of Switch players, but its flaws are evident to see. If only it was a little longer, or had a bit more of a replayability factor, and if only the voice acting was better... Still, more than just a good game, and well worth checking out.



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