Every day in the United Kingdom, we spend approximately 2.5 million pounds on coffee. I, like many others, think nothing of walking into a high street coffee shop and spending three pound on my Massimo, Double Shot, Skinny Gingerbread Latte; so why do people baulk at the idea of paying that for a mobile game?
I’m Professor Kelvin Harris, Codec Moments’ resident scientist. I am on a mission to document interesting games that cost less than your cappuccino, which might entertain you at home, on your way to work, or even during your coffee break. This week’s Cost of a Coffee game is Icycle: On Thin Ice from Damp Gnat, available on iOS.
The premise is simple, you are a cyclist who must negotiate a series of dynamic levels, of increasing complexity… tackle out. Yes that’s right, a naked cyclist. The last time that I tried to ride a bike in the buff I wound up on a register and suffering from exposure. Dennis, our modern day Laddie Godiva, returns in this sequel to the flash game, Icycle. This time he’s on a quest to find love in the post-apocalyptic ice world and he’s about to snog a snow woman when we first encounter him. Sadly events take a turn for the worse and/or hallucinogenic and he’s off on an adventure through ice floes, under water and even across a petrified battlefield.
The controls are as simple as harmonic motion; left, right and jump, with the ability to glide using an umbrella as a makeshift parachute by holding the jump button. The game mechanics are more attributable to the level design then the controls; the world around you is unstable with cracks and crevices appearing as you progress. In some levels, ice expands at a considerably greater than glacial pace, pushing you through the world and making your progression a combination of skill and trial & error as you can get lured into blocked paths that will become icy tombs. In another level, you need to forge your own path by triggering mines littering an age old battlefield, before bouncing across unexploded bombs to reach the level end. Each level consists of a few screens, each a puzzle in its own right and you have three spare wheels (lives), which will restart you at the last screen if you should crash or be crushed. If you run out of spare wheels you can either pay for another with the in-game currency, ice cubes, or restart the level proper. Ice cubes can be used to unlock upgraded items, garments for poor naked Dennis and even additional modes of transport including a shopping trolley or mobility scooter. You can buy the rather handy frozen rose, which allows you to skip a particular screen in a level should you find it too frustrating.
Replay value comes from the four challenges on each level, for each of which you’ll earn a star. These achievements include, but are not limited to, collecting 100% of the ice cubes available, completing a level without dying and picking up specific items etc. If you are tenacious enough to beat all 80 challenges across the 20 levels, you’ll be rewarded with the original 8 levels of On Thin Ice’s predecessor, Icycle, for the first time on iOS. Purchasing certain aesthetic items will also unlock bonus levels; the one we played involved us navigating through an ever decreasing spiky spiral of coffee creamer.
Icycle: On Thin Ice is a charming platform puzzle game where the dynamic levels and considered visual style make the game stand up above the usual melange of mobile media. You should definitely consider forgoing a day’s worth of caffeine fix, when you can pick this game up for the cost of a small Americano.