Icarus. 1 and the empty mind

I’ve learned that I really like exploration in my games.

I knew it before but upon trying out the demo for “Icarus. 1,” I realized how much I like the lack of guidance and the space the player has to wander around and figure out what to do.

Don’t get me wrong, I do like objectives and direction. I hate not knowing the end goal for the level or what I’m supposed to do, but I like the ability to take games at my own pace and dwell on the events. That’s probably why I put off story missions so much, opting to freeroam or do the side missions.

For me, Icarus. 1 was immersive, silent with only the sounds of the abandoned station and the crack of electronics powering on. The interface is simple – no HUD off to the side, except the occasional hint or message. The game uses visual cues to let the player know how to interact, red or a frowny face if something is locked and a yellow smiling face to let you know you’ve done right. Supply type boxes have the latch glowing until it’s open, a fact I caught on to far later in the demo than I would have liked.

The story opens through the notes left on computer terminals from the absent crew and I appreciate the illustration of their profile. There weren’t any monsters after you in the demo, and I believe that is the same throughout the game. While I played the demo, I became inspired by not only the color palette present but the emptiness. It’s up to the mind to create any potential fear or thoughts of not knowing what is in the next room shrouded in shadows or the floor above the elevator. and thought of different scenarios for possible stories. What happened at this space station? What could happen? What aren’t the notes telling me?

It reminded me of another atmospheric game, The House Abandoned, that creeps up on you and forces you to fill in the pieces. Although proportedly a shorter game, I will be picking up the full Icarus game to enjoy more of its hushed appeal.

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