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UglyDuck avatar 12:03 PM on 02.09.2010  (server time)
Icycle. Mind. Blown.

I havenít done this in a while. Still a bit tender. A little unrefined. A game that makes you start writing again is one that you donít want to fuck up, so bare with me if this sounds a little off.

Icycle is a short Flash game that you should play if you like videogames. You should play it now, and then come back to me when youíre done. It takes an approach to pacing and style that Iíve never seen before - at least, never done so gracefully and perfectly.

For instance, it does that thing where you have to die at least once to realise you werenít in fact supposed to do that. Under typical circumstances, this would diminish everything the game works towards, yet with Icycle, it aids in crafting the intended tone. Death is often bizarre or fantastical, provoking mirth instead of irritation. The humour diffuses any sense of failure, while at the same time, reinforcing the rules of the game. In doing so, the gameplay acquires a texture, rather than the polarising mechanic of winning / losing.

Icycle also incorporates the exploration style of games like Knytt and Small Worlds. It never uses words to tell a story - instead it is told through the graphics, the environment and the set pieces you pass by. A world is presented to you that is charming and rich, without a drop of inflection needed to infer its characteristics.

There is one other thing that Icycle performs in - and performs so well that it makes you wonder why this approach to linearity has taken so long, and it makes you retroactively wish side-scrolling games had learned this long ago. The mechanics of Icycle prevent you from going anywhere but right, thus allowing you to be drip-fed a certain style of gameplay. Youíll speed off an ice block, land on a crumbling cliff and only just bounce up onto a stable outcrop. Youíll have to delicately navigate huge expanding iceflows at just the right speed to prevent yourself from either falling to your death or being trapped into the enclosing ice. Each of the eight levels are short, but every one offers something new, and takes your understanding of the game or the world or the mechanics to a new place.

So thatís the article. Did I do it right? Was I too pretentious? That last paragraph was too long, I know it. I should probably also ask what you think or something. Damn, I probably need to practice more. On the plus side, at least I used the words Ďjustí and Ďkindaí less this time. Gotta control that shit.

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