ICEY ($2.99) by X.D. Network is a side-scrolling action game that's rather meta in and of itself. This is a mobile port of the ICEY game that was released on Steam in November 2016. If you enjoy other hack-n-slash titles like Super Samurai Rampage and Severed, then you'll like what ICEY brings to the table, but it's not without some flaws.
When I'm feeling a bit stressed, I enjoy getting my pent up frustrations out through video games. There's nothing better feeling than just unleashing a flurry of attacks on some digital enemies and watching them fall, you know? While I haven't heard of ICEY until now, I knew that this was a game I had to check out after seeing screenshots and video of the gameplay. And while I'm liking it so far, it definitely isn't without some flaws.
App Feels Like
App Feels Like
Visually, ICEY is gorgeous. The game features a heavily anime-inspired aesthetic to it, especially with ICEY's character design. ICEY is rendered in 2D, but the backgrounds are rather detailed and provide a bit of depth to everything, so it's almost like pseudo-3d. Environments are fairly detailed and textured, along with enemy robots. If you're an anime fan, you'll feel right at home. ICEY has smooth and fluid animations, so there was no issue with lag on my iPhone 8 Plus. The atmospheric and ambient soundtrack is soothing to listen to, and the sound effects are done well. On top of that, the unique narration that you hear as you play is incredibly human-like and sounds natural, but will make you question everything. As you may have guessed, this is where the meta part of the game comes into play.
Since ICEY is a side-scrolling action game, players must go through everything in linear fashion. You'll navigate through a series of connected rooms in order, and the only way to proceed is to clear out all enemies in the room you're in. There are also some tough boss fights that you'll be put up against. The game starts you off with a tutorial that explains all of the controls and basic actions to you, which I recommend paying attention to because things can get a bit tricky. The story is a bit generic and cliché, involving the typical hero who awakens from a deep slumber and must set out to defeat an evil villain trope that's been overdone.
The narrator will narrate everything that occurs on the screen, and even point you in the right direction to make progress, but you may not always want to listen. The meta part of the game involves breaking free of an omnipresent force and forging your own path. After all, can you really trust a mysterious omnipresent force like that without questioning its true motives?
Controls in ICEY are simple, but take a bit of time and practice to fully master. In the bottom left corner is your virtual joystick for horizontal movement. The bottom right corner has four buttons placed in a diamond formation, and each one is labeled with a number and a symbol. With the "01" button, you perform a basic attack. The "02" performs a heavy attack, which is capable of breaking through enemy defenses. The "03" allows you to jump (double tap for double jump) and "04" does a dash forward. Eventually you get a "05" button in the very bottom corner that lets you do special attacks once you've unlocked them.
While the game does a good job of explaining the controls, I wish that there was the option to change key bindings. I often found myself pressing the wrong button because I'm used to controls from other games, and end up dashing instead of attacking, or attacking rather than jumping. Hopefully the developers consider giving players the option to customize the button positions or bindings for a bit more freedom and streamlining in with the controls in the future.
ICEY's health bar is shown in the top left corner. Underneath the blue health bar is the yellow shield gauge (looks like arrows pointing right). The shield protects her from some damage but has to recharge after it's depleted. Performing a dash uses one charge, and you only have three available at a time. However, dash charges refill quickly enough, so you shouldn't have an issue with being completely out.
The key behind ICEY are combos...a lot of combos. The damage that ICEY does is increased for each consecutive hit that she's able to land. She's also capable of executing crazy combos from the ground and air alike, so it's best to experiment. And make sure to break through enemy defenses with her heavy attack so then you can unleash your fury.
For those of you who care about trophies and achievements, there are plenty to discover and unlock in ICEY. You'll also come across floating panels that can be activated with a hit from ICEY. These allow you to get upgrades for ICEY's moves and abilities by spending the cash you acquire from defeated foes. It's important to take advantage of these when you come across them, because they'll make battles easier.
ICEY is an intense side-scrolling action hack-n-slash style game that is rather meta.
ICEY is a great little side-scrolling action game that is sure to delight fans of the genre. The anime style art is polished and appealing, while the music and sound effects are a nice touch. The controls work well enough but require time and practice to master. The game's story is the typical fare, but the meta part with the narration and questioning of the omnipresent force is a nice element to the game. Battles are fun and intense, and should appeal to fans of hack-n-slash action.
While ICEY is pretty good for the most part, it's not without flaws. I mentioned earlier that the controls should be customizable with the bindings, as it would streamline the process for players who are used to other key bindings for similar games. Also, the difficulty level, even on Easy, can be a bit hard because of the controls. Hopefully the developer can fix that.
Overall, ICEY is definitely a game that fans of the side-scrolling hack-n-slash action genre should check out. The game features amazing visual style, great sound, and the narration can be rather humorous and serious at the same time. Controls are okay, but should be fixed in the future. The key to victory in battles is dependent on your combos, so make sure to mash on those buttons and land as many hits as you can. The game says "don't think, just fight," and that's exactly what you'll want to do when robots are trying to get you.
I recommend giving ICEY a try if you're looking for a fun and frantic hack-n-slash game. You can find ICEY on the App Store as a universal download for your iPhone and iPad for just $2.99. There are no in-app purchases.