Developer: Chillingo
Price: $0.99
Version Reviewed: 1.0.3
App Reviewed on: iPhone 4S

Graphics / Sound Rating: Rating: ★★★★★
Game Controls Rating: Rating: ★★☆☆☆
Gameplay Rating: Rating: ★★½☆☆
Replay Value Rating: Rating: ★★★☆☆

Overall Rating: ★★★☆☆

Icycle: On Thin Ice is the latest platformer from Chillingo. While the game itself is beautifully displayed and has a unique sense of humor, it unfortunately feels too “floaty” and imprecise in the control department to really be a stand out title.

photo 3 (5)The first impression that Icycle: On Thin Ice makes cannot be overstated. The game is simply beautiful with its stylized vector look, bright colors, and cool-looking design. On top of this, it tells a strange but charming story of a naked man named Dennis as he navigates a frozen landscape looking for love. Between both the visuals and the humorous storyline, there is a lot to like about the game conceptually.

In addition to a great visual aesthetic, Icycle also presents a relatively solid design. Players control Dennis using competent on-screen buttons to move, jump, and glide over and around obstacles, all while collecting ice to buy new items like umbrellas, bikes, and clothes. Each level also hosts a series of challenges that make replaying levels have more meaning than they otherwise would.

The part where all of this falls apart, unfortunately, is in the way Dennis handles. Although the touch controls work as intended, the sliding and momentum effects in the game make it extremely difficult to play Icycle well. I understand that the game revolves heavily around a theme of ice and includes an umbrella for floating around the environment, but the level design incorporates environmental hazards that sometimes present themselves too suddenly for players to move Dennis out of harm’s way quickly enough on the first try. Of course, when players fail once they can retry with the knowledge that they had before, but this whole scenario makes sections of the game feel unfair and punishing in a way that they don’t have to be.

photo 3 (3)As a result of this lack of precision, I found myself replaying sections of levels over and over again until either progressing thanks to unsatisfying trial-and-error or just quitting out of frustration. At these times it didn’t matter how great the game looked; I just wanted to be doing something else.

Overall, Icycle: On Thin Ice is a fantastic-looking game that I found rather annoying to play. That being said, I’ve never been a fan of “floaty” platformers of any kind – especially when their levels seem to be too demanding for the game’s physics. For players who are intrigued by the art style of Icycle and are alright with looser platform mechanics this game may satisfy, but otherwise I’d steer clear.


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