"Cut the Ice"
You know, months and years from now, I think I'm going to remember Nitrome's Icebreaker: A Viking Voyage less for my thoughts on the game itself and more for the unpleasant writer's block I experienced writing this review. I'm pretty sure I never had such a bout of block with any other review prior. It was horrible. Okay, I'm done.
Icebreaker is among the latest of mobile offerings in which players need to use their sweaty fingers to swipe across the screen, slicing virtual things up in an attempt to guide certain objects to a goal. It's a lot like mobile darling, Cut the Rope, with Vikings thrown in, but the title does much in its presentation and in the way it plays to make the whole package feel relatively unique.
The key aspect of this, naturally, is the gameplay, which revolves around guiding misplaced Vikings to the boat of the game's hammer-wielding protagonist, mainly by way of cutting up large slabs of ice. Depending on the situation, you are free to slice up the ice however you need (and as much as you want) to get each level's Vikings to safety.
However, it's more than just simply that. Frequently, Icebreaker: A Viking Voyage mixes up the formula with the addition of new stage elements like ropes, cannons, rockets, etc. Additionally, with time, more obstacles like trolls and deathtraps appear that will reward poor planning with dead Vikings. With these various elements, the game provides a great mix of fun, sometimes challenging, and often clever puzzles to throw at you.
A smart addition to the gameplay is the "par" system. Basically, every stage keeps track of how many cuts you make, and each stage challenges you to clear it within a select number of cuts. While an optional pursuit, it brings with it a delightful level of trickiness as you look for ways to retrieve the Vikings as efficiently as possible. It can also lead to hard decisions, as you will often have to forego the coins and treasure chests strewn throughout each stage to avoid surplus cuts.
While the above-mentioned gameplay elements would have been enough to make the game enjoyable, Nitrome goes the extra mile by setting it all in a fleshed-out cartoon world. This is most apparent in the world maps into which the stages are divided, complete with branching paths, side-quests, and even a boss battle or two. Top this off with the occasional cutscenes packed with humorous dialogue, and it's clear that the developer put in the effort to make the game feel more like a full-blown adventure title than just another casual iOS title. At least, that's how I see it.
It just occurred to me, that I really haven't said anything negative towards Icebreaker: A Viking Voyage, and I don't really have anything negative to say about it overall. The puzzles are varied, the gameplay is fun, and the presentation is excellent. Even the number of levels currently available is impressive for a newly-launched title. Icebreaker might not catch on with those looking for non-casual fare, but for everyone else interested in parting with a dollar, this is a good place to spend it.
GameDynamo's Score for Icebreaker: A Viking Voyage (Mobile)
A writer, journalist, and aspiring storyteller, Peter Grimm has been gaming since the days of the Nintendo 64, and reporting on the goings-on in the World of Gaming since late 2011. His base of writing operations is located within the void between Here and There, or so he would have you think.
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