Icebound
Gameplay 9
Graphics 8
Sound 8

With its Steampunk fantasy setting and fleshed out characters Icebound is a Western visual novel that definitely shouldn’t be overlooked. The writing is for the most part very good and the story features plenty of intrigue. The visuals are a bit rough in places, but the excellent soundtrack deserves a special mention. It is a must for visual novel fans, but the puzzle elements and great story will appeal to other players as well.

Gameplay: Icebound features a great story, interesting setting and even some nice puzzle mini-games.

Graphics: Good, but rather uneven.

Sound: No voice acting, but the soundtrack is superb

Summary 8.3 Outstanding
Gameplay 0
Graphics 0
Sound 0
Summary rating from user's marks. You can set own marks for this article - just click on stars above and press "Accept".
Accept
Summary 0.0 Terrible

Icebound

Developer: Fastermind Games | Publisher: Fastermind Games | Release Date: 2015 | Genre: Visual Novel / Indie | Website: Official Website | Purchase: Steam

Icebound follows the adventures of an alchemist, named Dougal, and his familiar, Isaac, in the isolated frontier town of Isenbarr. The duo are inhabitants of Permia, a world that is in the grips of a thousand-year ice age. Despite a couple of cliché’s, such as the lead character being amnesiac, the Steampunk fantasy setting of this visual novel offers an interesting story and some interesting gameplay elements.

The game opens with Dougal arriving in Isenbarr looking for work and discovering that there are already a couple of alchemists in town. It seems that someone is offering a priceless reward to anyone that can dispose of a fearsome monster that is plaguing the area and so Dougal has to compete with the others alchemists. Along the way he not only learns more about his competitors, but also about the other people in town and himself. We are not going to give away any spoilers, but suffice to say that there are some nice plot twists and the game features plenty of memorable characters.

Visual novel fans will know what to expect from Icebound, but the story of alchemy, romance, mystery and deceit is strong enough to appeal to players who are not normally drawn to the genre as well. Icebound contains plenty of great lore, most of it contained in an unlockable encyclopedia about the game’s world. The game features plenty of dialogue, but at certain junctions you also get to make moral choices that influence the ending of the game. Choices that increase “Order” is marked in blue, while the ones raising your “Chaos” meter is marked in red. In most cases you can also choose to be neutral. Not all choices alter the storyline in significant ways, but the order/chaos system is interesting enough to warrant a second playthrough to see what you missed the first time round. During conversations you are also sometimes presented with a list of questions to ask. Important ones are marked with an asterisk while the rest are optional, but well worth asking to flesh out the story a bit more. Despite touching on some darker elements the game also contains quite a bit of humor.

The fact that Dougal is an alchemist is also tied to the ten optional mini-games you’ll encounter during the game. These puzzles are optional, but very entertaining and definitely left us wanting more. The goal of the puzzles is to match colored tiles with their corresponding slots on a grid, but you cannot place two of the same colors next to each other.

After your initial choice each tile must also be placed next to an existing one and as the story progresses so does the complexity of the puzzle grids. The challenge mostly comes down to making the right choice with your first placement, but overall the mini-games are very enjoyable. Players who simply want to get on with the story can safely skip the puzzle scenes though.

Although the visuals of the game are for the most part really good the overall effect is also rather uneven. It definitely appears like different artists, with different styles worked on the characters, backgrounds and CG scenes, which can be a bit jarring. The CG scenes in particular feature a very rough, sketched look that doesn’t really match the rest of the game. The uneven art direction doesn’t detract too much from the experience though.

Icebound is quite a lengthy visual novel, which means there is plenty of reading to be done. The game doesn’t feature any voice acting, which could be a deal breaker for some players due to the amount of text. On the other hand, the music featured in the game is very good. Our favorite tracks include the upbeat “Certified Organic”, mellow “Sunset Field”, and sinister “Heaven’s Shadow.” In total there are more than 20 songs, including a few variations of certain tracks. In typical visual novel fashion the entire game is mouse driven, so we didn’t encounter any issues with the controls.

With the influx of visual novels released on Steam lately fans of the genre are spoiled for choice, but Icebound is definitely a title that shouldn’t be overlooked. It features solid writing, an interesting story and plenty of memorable characters. The game was Greenlit last year and the Steam release we played features trading cards as well as achievements. A demo for Icebound is available from the official website, so anyone even vaguely interested should check it out.

System Requirements

  • OS: Windows XP SP1
  • Processor: Pentium 4 1.7 GHz
  • Memory: 128 MB RAM
  • Graphics: Intel Integrated Chipset
  • Hard Drive: 300 MB available space
  • OS: Mac OS X 10.6
  • Processor: Pentium 4 1.7 GHz
  • Memory: 128 MB RAM
  • Graphics: Intel Integrated Chipset
  • Hard Drive: 300 MB available space
  • OS: Linux x86/x86_64
  • Processor: Pentium 4 1.7 GHz
  • Memory: 128 MB RAM
  • Graphics: Intel Integrated Chipset
  • Hard Drive: 300 MB available space

Related posts

Heroes of Loot

Heroes of Loot

Heroes of Loot is a great title for when you need a quick action fix and don’t want to get bogged down with small details like inventory management or stat allocation. You simply race through dungeon floors, killing everything in sight and grabbing whatever loot you can find. It doesn’t have a lot of depth, but since dungeons are randomly generated and increase in difficulty the more you play the replay value is quite high. It is also very reasonably priced, which means there is no excuse for not giving it a shot. Gameplay: The focus is very much on action and there isn’t much that gets in the way of that. Graphics: Some lovely pixel art visuals with nice enemy designs. Sound: Decent, but the sound effects are a little underwhelming.

Copoka

Copoka

Copoka is a unique sandbox experience where you get to play as a bird that is reveling in its freedom while surrounded by the oppressed citizens of a totalitarian city state. Your only object is to gather bits and pieces for your nest while listening to the conversations around you to advance the story. It is a very serene experience and the sensation of flying is quite relaxing, but after an hour or two you will have seen everything there is as the gameworld is quite small. While it is not a game for players seeking action or a big challenge, Copoka is fun while it lasts and offers something a little different without costing an arm and a leg. Gameplay: Fly around eavesdropping on citizens while collecting shiny objects for your nest. Graphics: The visuals are colorful and stylish, but not that detailed. Sound: Decent audio and pretty good voice acting.

Peggle Deluxe

Peggle Deluxe

Like all the best puzzle games, Peggle Deluxe is almost insultingly simple to grasp, but once you get into it you'll be hooked. It is horribly addictive and the whole package is just put together so well one can't help but be charmed. Gameplay: Very simple and very addictive. Graphics: For a casual game, it is pretty good with some nice backgrounds. Sound: The tunes are OK and the sound effects serviceable.

Runespell: Overture

Runespell: Overture

Runespell: Overture shares many similarities with the Puzzle Quest series, but never quite manages to be as great. It is undeniably addictive and has some great ideas, but can become repetitive and the whole thing ends rather abruptly. Considering the low price tag it is well worth checking out however. Gameplay: Addictive but can become repetitive. Graphics: Nice considering the limitations. Sound: Orchestral soundtrack and great sound effects.

Kyn

Kyn

While Kyn isn’t perfect and suffers from some bland characters and a story that fails to captivate, it is still an impressive offering considering that it is the work of mostly two developers. It features plenty of strategic, but action-packed combat, a wealth of equipment to craft and plenty of well-designed maps. Fans of older party-based games, like Icewind Dale will feel right at home with Kyn. Gameplay: Kyn offers a single player, party based combat experience with plenty of action. Graphics: Varied levels and plenty of detail. Sound: No voice acting, but the soundtrack is great.

Borderlands

Borderlands

Borderlands is a unique first person shooter with some nifty RPG elements making it very action packed and addictive to play. For the best results the game should be played in co-op as the story is rather thin and the game has a very MMO feel to it. The unique art style and abundance of weapons makes this game a great time waster. Gameplay: Thin on story but lots of action and loot hunting. Graphics: The visual style sets it apart from other first person shooters. Sound: A good soundtrack and decent voice acting.

Leave a comment

19 − 17 =