Dean Hall is a very controversial figure in the modern gaming industry. The creator of the great modification for ArmA II called DayZ was never able to bring it to mind as an independent project, leaving his brainchild to other developers. The former New Zealand military man himself, and now a game designer, decided to create without looking at major publishers and in 2014 founded his own studio RocketWerkz, which was supposed to, as the slogan on the Twitter page says, “make cool games” (We make cool games) .
New projects have not rusted, but there are still problems with “coolness” over the seven years of the studio’s existence: the Ion space MMO sandbox has been canceled, the Out of Ammo VR dilogy could not be remembered for something outstanding, the Stationeers interplanetary colonist simulator inspired by Space Station 13 is still floundering in Steam Early Access and is unlikely to become a competitor for its progenitor in terms of popularity, and the Art of the Rail railway tycoon has not even been released yet.
But on December 4, the “survivor” Icarus appeared – it was not without transfers, but immediately in the release version, without any early access (minus a short beta test for those who pre-ordered).
As you noticed, RocketWerkz loves astronauts – it’s not for nothing that they become the main characters of the third project (if you count the canceled Ion) of this studio. The idea of using the process of exploring an alien planet as an entourage is far from new for the genre: who, if not the colonialists, should be engaged in the fight against the environment, making every effort to survive?
In the distant future, the planet Icarus has become a symbol of the arrogance of mankind – an attempt to terraform ended in failure, and people, instead of getting a second home, a twin of the Earth, made this world a very inhospitable place. It would seem that it doesn’t happen to anyone: you can leave Icarus in memory as a symbol of the futility of trying to outplay nature itself and move in search of other worlds, but the discovery of a very valuable exomatter on the surface of the planet changes everything.
Harsh natural conditions are not such a big hindrance now – hardly anyone wants to live here, but there is no end to those who want to make money on the extraction of precious resources. In the history of mankind there are enough examples of this – to recall at least Alaska during the American gold rush. So Icarus soon becomes a kind of Klondike – prospectors appear on the planet, risking their health and life for the sake of exomattery, promising fabulous profits.
A spacesuit is a spacesuit, but a homemade cape made of branches will not hurt.
As a rule, the authors of such games do not pay much attention to the description of the universe, and here the whole pseudo-documentary short film is even devoted to the history of the development of Icarus. A nice exception, but what about the gameplay itself?
We remain to survive
The player (or players – there is a cooperative here) becomes one of the pioneers of this dangerous world. The time for the expedition is limited: the return flight will not wait for those who are late – there are always plenty of such daredevils.
You can send your characters (there may be several of them) on special landing missions. At first, these are reconnaissance missions that help discover new areas, then more complex goals will be set before the miners, such as the extraction of organic samples of the local fauna. After returning to the orbital station, it will not be possible to visit the already studied place again – we are not in front of a pure “sandbox”, as is customary in the genre, but something similar to a linear campaign. There are exceptions: permanent bases in small safe areas where there are no specific tasks and time limits.
In orbit, you can learn and buy new technologies that can make future travel easier. They are common to all characters, but the development of handicrafts and their own survival skills will be strictly individual for each pioneer.
In any stone boulder, you can gouge a niche and use it as a shelter. It is a pity that the earth will not be able to dig like that.
How exactly to complete the task, decide for yourself: here the player has a little freedom of choice. Build a long-term shelter, take the time to scout the area and only then go on a mission? Try to achieve the goals as quickly as possible, without being distracted by the same survival? The mission timer, ticking in real time and allocating quite a lot of time (up to several days) for disembarkation, certainly does not become the limitation that will spur on the last option, but jogging for half an hour will definitely not work here – the reason for this is the very nature that on Icarus is the main and most dangerous enemy of any guest.
Despite the bright high-tech future that has come to the world of the game, you will have to land on the planet without modern equipment. You get and build everything you need yourself, especially during the first sorties. Later it will be possible to capture advanced equipment from orbit, but in any case, crafting is indispensable.