Traditionally speaking, most discussions around indie gaming center around independent game developers in North America and Europe. While the Japanese scene has been thriving for ages, for instance, it’s rare that an indie series is discussed extensively in North American media: Touhou being the exception, as opposed to the rule. But the upcoming Chinese action side-scroller title ICEY is already turning heads, especially with the unveiling of its official Steam Greenlight page.
Published by X.D. Network, players take on the role of the game’s titular protagonist, ICEY, who is trailed around by the game’s narrator. As the core voice behind the “action-meta game,” ICEY‘s narrator asks the player to move in the specific direction in which they request. But the game allows the player to question the omnipotent narrator’s demands and follow their own lead. Alongside the question of liberty vs obedience that’s bound to pop up, ICEY also features combat, a combo system and cyborg bosses for the player to fight.
ICEY‘s history is quite impressive. The game is being created by a group of Chinese developers fresh out of university. It’s their first on Steam, and will definitely serve as a proving ground for both the developers and publisher. But ICEY has already seen a variety of awards, especially in the East. It was previously selected for 2016 Gamescom’s Indie Arena Booth and IGF China 2015, and the game won “Best Technology Award” at Indieplay 2015. It was also nominated for DENGEKIs PlayStation’s “Best Indie Game” award at Tokyo Game Show 2016.
Those awards are certainly deserved, too. ICEY seems like a clever release, mixing action gameplay with a narrative that challenges the ways in which players think about storytelling in side-scrolling and action-adventure games. Although there’s no official word on the Steam Greenlight campaign’s progress, there is a trailer online that features in-game footage. It’s quite gorgeous, especially the battle scenes.