Game Review – LD30 Game: Icarus Crisis

Game Review

Icarus Crisis is a game made for the Ludum Dare game jam, this entry had a maximum of 72 hours to complete, but was done by a solo developer, rojo.


Icarus Crisis – rojo (Click to go play)

Icarus Crisis is a complex turn based strategy game, which reminds me of a playing on a table top against the game rules.  The primary mechanic is the chance of dice, but each dice has different chances, and your crew members can gather more dice by exploring around the world.  After each member gets a turn, the gate opens even wider, providing suspense and rushes the strategy to prevent useless moving while still collecting dice.  Be careful of exploring and finding the possible ambush from the formless!

The music was a bit simple, understandably so for a short game project with a solo developer.  The loop was a bit short and although my ears were not left bleeding, they are ringing a bit.  The rest of the game had reasonable use of sound effects for different events, the different turns or results had slightly different sounds in a vaguely positive or negative fashion, although a little more polish could go for adding better win sounds with both minor victories (item found, ambush averted) and total victory.

The complexity was a bit high.  I attempted to read the tutorial on the start menu before hitting play then going about the game.  It took several seconds to figure out what the highlighted tiles were, the camera motion was difficult to get use to but it felt like I wanted to play with the keyboard when the mouse was used for more primary input, my choices as a player.  After I did get to click around as instructed, I had no idea what I was actually doing, or if the ‘ai’ was changing things between turns.  I read through some of the description to get a better grasp.

With that I was able to read how the missions worked, and the objective of the game so I gave it a go, and it was quite fun.  I won reasonably easily, but with the random board setup and chance of dice rolls this could be luck, or it could be a game that is on the easy side.  I felt both lucky and unlucky while playing, so I assume my strategies helped with my overall victory.


Tips for the Developer

Making a game in 48 to 72 hours takes a lot of work, and the limited time frame leaves a lot of things left to be improved upon.  If only I had more time…  Well, lets say there is more time, what could be done to make Icarus Crisis better?  From my experience it needs more intuitive art for ui to tie the missions in better.  The nature of a turn based strategy will always have more complexity than your average action shooter or breakout clone, but it can be portrayed more friendly by coloring the entire tile with a glow.

Maybe popping up mission or exploration information with a mouse hover may prove easier to grasp?  Obviously exploration information would not show the hidden ambush of formless, but it could indicate that one tile may be harder than another giving the player more choices, or more information to make choices with.  Dimming the screen, or making a slight cutscene effect at the end of each round would add suspense and more clearly show the turn based effect.  A slight zooming into the Icarus portal as it opens up, or maybe gets blocked from opening further, then panning back to first player.

Actually the smarter camera could be a great way to show the player where and what is going on, when placing a team member for the first time a camera zoomed far out could show the overall map better, while zooming the camera in to show the area of movement would indicate who the player needs to make choices with, at the current time.

The symbols in the game are reasonably clear,  but it takes a bit of thought when reading the dice attributes.  Overall cleaning up the art and making it pop by using lower saturation for background tiles/information and higher saturation (not necessarily primary colors) for more immediate information.  The buildings and tiles look interesting, although as a player I was confused if the buildings meant ambush always, or usually.  It could be a luck thing.

Well done on completing a game in 72 hours, it was fun to play and really felt like it could be a table-top board game.

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