Blue Ice review
Are you a world-beater? A person who is the best there is at games? A champion who knows no suitable challenges? Well if you are, then Blue Ice is the game you have been searching for. In a story reminiscent of Titus Groan, you enter the world of Icia. A barren and frozen wasteland that is held in the iron-clad grip of numerous laws and rules that govern every dimension of everyday life. This system has endured for 700 years ever since the first King Edward lost his firstborn at birth. Unable to accept the loss as nature's way, the king blamed the witch Orseppro and banished her. With her left Icia's hope and each successive ruler added more mundane and harsh laws to the books. But finally an opportunity presented itself to Orseppro. The King has died and his heir is a not old enough to ascend to the throne. Can she help open his heart and mind before that day?
An intriguing premise, and though it initially peaked my interested, the longer I played BI the less I cared. It took me hours just to figure out how to get past the game's start screen. After several frustrating hours I finally did the unthinkable, I resorted to a walkthrough. In fact, most of the progress I made in the game was due to a walkthrough. BI is the most surreal and illogical game I have ever played. Where as other surreal games like Obsidian offer you understandable clues, BI's clues are complete riddles. They offer the player next to no idea of what to do or how to progress. Hints included in each area are abstract and beyond vague, consisting of enigmatic snippets of prose. Add to this a totally unintuitive interface and you have a frustrating piece of software that quickly loses its appeal.
The interface itself is hard to get a handle on and without a good understanding of how to use it your progress will be greatly impaired. The numerous amount of icons available make game play long and tedious as each one is tried in succession over every object available. Many people complained about the difficulty of using Grim Fandago's interface but that was nothing compared to BI's. It is not only hard to get used to but also confusing.
Another frustrating part of BI is the player's inability to move in the game's environments. BI uses fully rendered static slides of each setting, however, the player cannot move in these environments. All they get is one first-person perspective shot of each area and that is it. For adventure gamers who are weaned on exploration, painstakingly searching behind bookcases and couches, this is the ultimate restriction. You can't go left or right, forward or backward; all you can do is stare straight ahead. I must admit I have no idea why the developers decided on this approach when other games released the same year (1996) allow the player to move about freely. All I can think is it was an aesthetic choice rather than a technological one.
Which brings me to the one good thing about BI: its graphics. They are beautiful. They are colourful. They are eye-candy, but they are not enough to save this game. The scenes the player witnesses are multi-layered often with one beautiful image strategically laid over another. This gave everything a dreamlike quality that was whimsical and enticing. It is a breathtaking effect and the only reason the game held my attention. You can get away with a great deal in a game such as a bizarre interface, a shallow story etc. if you have amazing graphics, but with BI even it's stellar graphics can't help it to be a better game. Unfortunately, in the end the games other flaws simply out weight the beauty of the graphics.
I know that there are others out there who appreciate this game and its unique qualities, but for the vast majority of gamers this game is not going to be enjoyable. It is extremely hard and bizarre, two qualities that will turn most people off. Even though it has beautiful graphics, if you are the type of player who likes to explore a game's environments, interact with other characters, play for relaxation or have a limited budget for games then this is not the game you are looking for. Your money will be better spent elsewhere. However, if you have a vast knowledge of games, have played just about everything, have money to burn, and live for a good challenge then give BI a try.
Only for masochists, world-beaters and other people who believe they need a cape.