IceBreaker- A Viking Voyage Review: Another Great Puzzle Game From Rovio
Rovio’s development team seems pretty well focused at this point on milking the Angry Birds franchise for every penny it’s worth. So they’ve launched a new initiative, Rovio Stars, for supporting indy developers to create new games under the Rovio banner without foul-tempered fouls in them. The first release from this new initiative is Icebreaker: A Viking Voyage, a game that offers a fine physics puzzle experience.
In Icebreaker, you take on the role of a young Viking icebreaker, apprenticed out to a master. Your task in each level is to guide Vikings trapped on each level to your longship. Often, but not always, these poor Vikings have been trapped in giant ice blocks (hence the title). I’m a sucker for Vikings, so I liked this concept.
The core mechanic in Icebreaker is the cut. Just as in Cut the Rope, you swipe your finger across the right objects to slice them and get them to (hopefully) fall your way. You’re primarily cutting blocks of ice, and sometimes other things — ropes, troll snot (not a typo), etc. As you progress, you encounter goats, crows, giant spiked balls, and all sorts of other elements that complicate your daring Viking rescues. Together, this all works to provide a fun gaming experience.
Like any good puzzle game, Icebreaker introduces new play elements slowly over the first few worlds, and then starts stacking them atop one another to ramp up the difficulty. In the later levels you’ll likely be trying again several times to suss out the solution. You might even get stuck sometimes, but each of the level maps in the game is large and multi-pathing; so that, unlike in Angry Birds, if you get stuck on a level you aren’t prevented from making progress. [The world maps are also just fun to look at, having been designed to look like 16-bit pixel graphics.]
One complaint I could level at the game is that sometimes the difficulty can be uneven; for example, in the first world after the tutorial levels I paid thirty coins to unlock a gate, only to get stuck on the unexpectedly difficult level behind it. I had to go back and choose the freebie route to proceed, and I felt my coins were wasted. Some fine tuning would be welcome in a future update.
My other complaint is one that I level at every Rovio release nowadays: separate iPhone and iPad versions. Why? You can’t tell me the graphics in Icebreaker HD require such high fidelity on the iPad screen that a Universal version couldn’t have worked. Especially since both apps are 32 MB in size. So, um … why, exactly?
That said, the other 98% of the game is really fun. A good physics puzzle knows how to build complexity from simple mechanics. Nitrome has most definitely achieved that here. At times the game feels like Cut the Rope, or Amazing Alex, or even occasionally Angry Birds; but together it’s got a flavor of its own, one that I think will linger in the hearts of puzzle fans.
The physics puzzle genre is a large and well explored one, and while Ice Breakers doesn’t break any new ground it does make excellent use of the conventions of the genre. At 99 cents for the iPhone version, it’s almost definitely worth your time.
Our score: 4 out of 5