Icebreaker: A Viking Voyage harkens back to the age of long ships, hammers, bushy beards, and Odin. You play as a lone viking trying to rescue his comrades scattered about the lands, and usually they’re either stranded atop ice, or within ice. Hence, you’re an ice breaker swiping across sheets of ice to cut them down to size, and fall into the ship. It’s a puzzle adventure that includes 95 levels across three different environments including the Viking homeland, troll caves, and the underground Viking stronghold. Icebreaker is based on a flash game by Nitrome, and has now comes to iOS complete with touch controls, and published by Angry Birds creator, Rovio.
The base of Icebreaker is reminiscent of Cut The Rope, and yet it feels completely fresh. Every single one of the 95 levels offers up a unique challenge with most revolving around cutting ice at certain angles so that it slides through the ornately crafted level layouts. There’s so much more than that as you contend with Viking eating trolls, trying to save goats, cutting roped Vikings at just the right second, and even launching Vikings out of canons. You never know what’s coming next, and this isn’t just another simple physics puzzler, so you better be prepared for quite a challenge. Most levels will require multiple play throughs, testing out how the ice chunks interact with the environment.
There are just so many variations, and you can tell just how much time went into designing each and every level. There’s also a story mode tying together the puzzle levels, and it’s absolutely bursting with character that you will get a kick out of. All of it is presented with great modern pixel art style, though the worlds are a bit drab. Every single design aspect is geared towards inviting you to keep playing, and that includes trying challenging side missions, and heading towards boss battles. Each level also has two scoring systems with a certain number of coins, and a specific number of cuts to make per level to add to the replay factor. Ultimately, the developers have done a great job in making you care about saving the Vikings, which is essential to any of these types of games.
The game isn’t without its flaws, and in a number of levels, figuring out the solution is one thing, and performing that solution is a whole other challenge. Levels are all about timing, but while the swipe to cut mechanic is precise in slow motion, it’s not the best when rapid cuts are required. Also, many levels miss fine tuning to the point that boulders can get stuck, ice can fall through gaps, and Vikings can slow down on a slide. All of these aspects pop-up in the middle of a solution so that you have to replay a level with the same technique, and just hope one of these stumbles doesn’t happen. Continuing that trend, the physics engine can be a bit too bouncy so that Vikings and treasure chests can careen off platforms, ice blocks, and even the boat, again requiring a restart with the same technique. It can be frustrating to replay a level multiple times that you know the solution to, only suffering from a level balancing lapse that breaks the flow.
Icebreaker: A Viking Voyage ($0.99, iPhone / $2.99, iPad) reinvigorates the physics puzzle genre, and is a definite chip off the old ice block that is Angry Birds. Any of the drawbacks are but minor distractions from a thoroughly engaging puzzle adventure that once you start you just have to finish. Icebreaker is a should buy for some excellent challenge and enjoyment throughout with so many variations along the way.