Overall Score 70%
Born as the illegitimate son of a duke, Icarus had a hard life. Wandering the streets, begging for a few meagre coins, his life changed one day. Whilst chasing a dog through the forest, he was set upon by a group of bandits, who were then quickly dispatched by a city guard named Garett. Sent by the duke, his task was to escort Icarus to the capital city to meet with the king. Big things are afoot - what destiny awaits?
Icarus is a platform game in which you control the titular character. Though the game itself is quite brief, there are several endings - which one you get depends upon how you play. You don't control Garett directly at all - instead, Garett follows you and you switch him to "attack mode" whenever desired, at which point he'll slaughter anyone in the immediate area - but it's quite possible to leave him behind somewhere and, in my first game, he was so sickened by my wanton disregard for human life that he abandoned me!
Controls are very simple, and introduced gradually as you play. Arrow keys move Icarus, space bar jumps, tab toggles Garett's attack mode and you can hold down shift whilst moving to dig in that direction. This allows a lot of strategy - bypass enemies by tunnelling underneath them, for instance. There are stretches of water that will drown you if you stay under too long, plenty of guards that will kill you (though Garett will cope admirably with them), ghosts in later levels that cannot be killed but will certainly hurt you, and the constant cycle of day and night adds an intriguing dimension.
I've commented on retro style games in the past - this is about as retro as you can get! Sound and music is filled with the 8-bit bleeps and white noise I recall from my Atari days (ahhh, nostalgia...) and the graphics are composed of big, colourful pixels. Everything is made of big, obvious squares, including the trees (which could look a little less square, I think!!). Cut scenes feature the main characters giving text instructions. It's a game that older players will instantly feel at home with, though younger ones used to modern style games will probably be utterly baffled! Kids, this is what games used to look and sound like!
Easy to play, the trickiest part is handling Garett. With no direct control over him, he is prone to falling into pits, getting stuck behind obstacles and so on. Often you'll have to go back and get Icarus to dig him out. He also needs careful watching with regards to attack mode - armed soldiers or unarmed villagers can both be targets. Be sure to switch off the attack mode when you're done with it! I also managed on one play through to get Garett stuck somewhere and move on to the next level, which saw me on my own (without support, this level became almost impossible). On the plus side, you have a saved game slot - just one! - that allows you to restart the last level reached.
Each individual game is quite brief - just half an hour from start to finish - but there are five possible endings. The way that you play affects which one you'll get! There's a certain appeal in seeing them all. And once you're done with the main game, there's the Treasure Hunt mode, in which Icarus and Garett go out hunting for gold and gems. Collect all the treasure you can, and there's a score multiplier based on how far you travel. Can you beat the high score?
Icarus has no set cost - you may pay whatever you think it is worth. There is a minimum price of $1.75 to cover basic costs, but beyond that you can offer whatever you like. Developer Justin Scott has stated that half of all profits from this game will be donated to Child’s Play Charity - a charity that gives toys and games to sick children in different parts of the world - so you might want to bear that in mind when you set your amount.
Icarus is a simple blast of nostalgia with a few modern aspects, such as remembering your progress, and it's supporting a worthy cause. Well done to Justin, and I hope to see more from him in the future.
Keywords: icarus review, justin scott reviews, justin scott games, icarus scores, pc game reviews, indie game reviews, independent gaming.