[Review] Iconika – An Intriguing and Atmospheric Game About Perspective

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We like to draw your attention to the indie games because that is where the talent hides, buried under the piles of generic flappy birds and clashes of all sorts of clans. Iconika is one such indie game I don’t even remember how I found it. The icon must have attracted my attention, and it was free, so I risked nothing. There is a gameplay, a unique one for that matter, a tricky challenge, awesome design, an atmosphere and philosophy. I haven’t wrapped my head around the latter yet, but it’s definitely a unique indie title to check out.

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Iconika takes place in a surreal world of vector graphics and geometric shapes. You play as something that looks like a chess figure with four sides. You can turn left and right, and move only forward. Hence, you have three control buttons to move your king, or queen, along a tricky path.

The path goes up, and down, makes turns and zig-zags, has several forks, and you can explore all of them. The movement is one of the major challenges because you can see the world from a third-person perspective. The pitch black background and the snow white rectangular path create a treacherous illusion – you can’t see the edges quite so well.

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Thus, the game grants you a first-person perspective drawn in the vector graphics. You switch to and from the first-person perspective by using a big red button at the top left corner.

This alone would have been a great gameplay thanks to the gorgeous looks, atmospheric music and the challenge. However, there is more depth to Iconika – the story.

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The story is as surreal and creepy as the world is – you are one of the few species left in this abandoned world. Your kin and everyone else have deceased – that is why the sun is red. You have no memories, or so it seems, but you have a lot of questions. The game offers a variety of questions and you can ask them in any succession.

Who answers them is a different story. Your guide, or operator, seems kind, yet creepy. He/she/it does not make it clear if he is alive, or dead, but mentions there are three murderers around, eliminating the rest of you. He says they are treacherous and lying, which immediately plants a seed of doubt and mistrust in your very guide.

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Since the storytelling is non-linear, you can wander around the desolate, yet solemnly and depressingly beautiful world, trying to find the answers and a meaning to your experience, overcoming the clever physics and geometry, as well as optical illusion based puzzles.

However, the game is not without a flaw. Getting used to the controls and the way the figure moves is enjoyable, yet it will have you restarting several times until you get the hang of it. And here is the nag – every restart forces you to go through the initial dialogue again and again. It’s quite lengthy, and you can’t just skip it. Yes, I understand the controls, and I must have learned the intros by heart, but all I want is a fresh start without the text I already read. Hopefully, the developer will fix that because it seems to be the only thing that makes the gameplay immediately off-putting. Simply adding the Skip intro button will let the players do faster replay and advance further each time. Exploration is a wonderful thing, and when a game offers something unique and interesting, it is well worth investigating.

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The design and the music are amazing. The indie developers never seize to amaze me with their creations. The simplest of the colors, black, white, blue and red, create shapes and objects I literally want to touch and feel the smooth surface. The first-person view is reminiscent of Fotonica and is really dizzying. The music deserves the praise, for it helps create a very special atmosphere – that of exploration, but caution; curiosity, but fear. Looking forward to when the soundtrack becomes available online.

iconika iconICONIKA

Developer: CreateOCon Studios
Genre: Puzzle
Download from Google Play
Price: free

The Good

  • Beautiful, unique design
  • Intriguing, surreal, creepy story
  • Non-linear storytelling
  • Multiple-option dialogue
  • Atmospheric
  • Great music
  • Totally free, no IAPs

The Bad

  • The intro text repeats every time you replay the beginning and makes it boring to replay until you get further and get the feeling there is an intrigue

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The Verdict

If you have a knack on unique and beautiful indie games, Iconika is certainly the one to check out. It has a little nagging, repetitive intro, but if you manage to get past that, you will find an intriguing, surreal geometry and physics-based game that will play nasty tricks with your eyes and brain. Oh, and the description says the epilepsy-prone users should not play it. Watch the trailer to get a better feel of its atmosphere and gameplay: