A few days ago, I struggled to describe Jetbee, it being one of the worst smartphone games I’ve had the misfortune of playing this year (check out the hilarious comments, incidentally).
Similarly, I’m struggling to put Icycle: On Thin Ice into words, but – conversely – because it’s so very, very surreal, and – more importantly – so very, very good.
Icycle is essentially a platformer split into 20 levels. You’re tasked with guiding Dennis to the end of each, by moving left and right on his bicycle, jumping, and floating with his umbrella. It’s seriously remarkable what an imaginative developer can do with that incredibly simple premise.
Each of the levels is fairly short, around 60 seconds or so, though you can generally forget about finishing them without dying on your first attempt. They’re fairly crazy, largely on account of things constantly rolling and falling and exploding and collapsing.
There’s added replay value in the form of challenges – four for each level makes 80 in total. You might have to finish a level under a specific time, or get to the end without deploying the umbrella. Complete all 80 missions and you unlock the original Icycle game (I’m so very close).
For my money, the star of the game is the style. It is utterly fantastic every step of the way, from the intro through to the oddly moving conclusion.
One particular level (slight spoiler alert) sees you flying through the air on a Penny Farthing collecting apples (obviously). At the end, you fly into a giant naked man’s ear and behind his eye, where a half fish, half naked lady awaits. What the…?
There are other little touches here and there that genuinely had me laughing out loud. Just when I was starting to think that all new smartphone games were endless runners and puzzle games based around in-app purchases, my faith has been well and truly restored. Icycle, in case it wasn’t clear, is stupendously good.
Speaking of in-app purchases, they are present here despite the 69p entry fee, but they really only apply if you can’t be bothered playing through the game.
Throw in an array of costumes and bikes, and yep, we have another contender for Smartphone Game of the Year.
- The level design
- The overall style
- 80 missions to complete
- Fairly short
Summary: How to describe Icycle? It’s funny, sad, stylish, imaginative, innovative, surreal… brilliant. If you own an iDevice, it’s a must play. I insist.
Developer: Damp Gnat
Price: 69p @ App Store
Compatibility: Requires iOS 6.1 or later. Compatible with iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPhone 5, iPhone 5c, iPhone 5s, iPad and iPod touch. This app is optimized for iPhone 5.