If you’re looking for a team that knows how to make a mobile game that just works in every way, the shining example is Rovio. Yes, it’s known for Angry Birds, but every subsequent, non-avian game has been equally fun and addictive. Less marketable and successful perhaps, but certainly good. Icebreaker: A Viking Voyage falls comfortably into that category. Coming from the minds of developer Nitrome and published under Rovio’s “Stars” brand, it has everything you could ask for. It might not be as easy to sell viking plush toys, but Rovio has delivered once again.
Icebreaker is a quirky title with a unique look and style to it. It stars a cast of lovably incompetent vikings who all have their own personalities. You’ll play as a young icebreaker under the apprenticeship of a master of the craft. He teaches you how to cut through ice and other objects to free frozen and trapped vikings.
Like other Rovio games, Icebreaker is a puzzle-based game that requires you to complete a basic task to clear a level – in this case, free a viking from his confines and get him to the safety of a ship. But there are also other goals along the way like grabbing a treasure chest or collecting the three coins scattered across the level. These produce your score at the end of each level, which you can always improve by going back and playing them over again.
Through the gorgeous levels of the game, you’ll chop your way through everything the game can throw at you: From ice and ropes to cannons and troll snot, which is surprisingly sticky. As you cut away at various things on screen to free your viking pals, you hardly notice how easy the game mechanics are. Every move is completed with just a swipe, but never feels stale. You manipulate the game’s environment quickly and watch the physics engine do its thing, then continue from there. It’s simple, but it works really well.
Dialogue between the characters pop up on cut scenes and are often pretty funny. Though it’s not noticeable in a zoomed-out view, as the camera zooms in, you’ll notice a retro pixel art style that anyone who’s turned on a SNES would enjoy. The levels have a great, gritty color palette throughout it that keeps its Norse theme but never becomes too dull or dark.
There’s plenty of replay value here, especially if you can’t rest until you’ve cleared every level to its fullest, but you also get tons of game right up front in Icebreaker without having to backtrack. There are 95 levels to play through with a considerable amount of variance in them. You have to approach each level differently and try multiple solutions at times. There’s the occasional stage that feels like you have to “break” the game a bit, taking advantage of things that maybe shouldn’t work, but for the most part all of the levels are well thought out and keep you thinking to find the solution to them.
Icebreaker: A Viking Voyage is solid physics-based puzzle game packed with content. The stylized graphics and humorous moments add charm, but this game would work based on its mechanics and level design alone. It’s a fun, challenging title that has set the bar for games that come out on the Rovio Stars label. We can’t wait to see what Rovio has coming next.