Created by those at the development studio of Abyzzmo Entertainment is a new entry in the action-adventure genre – a game that goes by the name of The Legend of Icaro. It’s a game that has a solo developer kind of feel to it: one person’s vision brought to life and released on an unsuspecting public. Now, these games usually go one of two ways, usually being either extremely good or extremely bad. Which camp does The Legend of Icaro fall into?
The story of The Legend of Icaro is a little obtuse and hard to work out. It appears we play as the titular Icaro, and we seem to be some kind of cyborg because of reasons. It’s our job, given to us by a scientist who may also be our father, to go out into the world and rid it of various bosses. As the Xbox Store puts it “The gods has died, but some live inside! Immerse yourself in this great adventure and face the titans of the future. To free men from the empire of machines, unravel the mysteries of this amazing world, and write the Legend of Icarus!”. I’m sure that we are all much clearer after that explanation.
So, now we know what we are fighting for (not really, but just roll with it) it’s time to set off into the world. The screen is presented as a side on view, with the sprite of Icaro being fairly small in the middle of it. Think old skool Prince of Persia (when it was 2D only, back in the day) and you won’t be too far away from having an idea of the presentation. It also put me in mind of Flashback, for the same reason.
Anyway, Icaro can run, jump, swing on ropes and fire his gun (although not at the same time) and also has a nifty line in fisticuffs, being able to kick or punch the many enemies that litter the levels. After a little light combat and platforming, there is the obligatory end of level boss, and defeating these allows Icaro to use a bit of the boss to his advantage. You know, just like in every Mega Man game ever. What there isn’t in this game is a massive amount of originality, but I’m sure we can overlook that as long as the game is fun to play, right?
Well, the news isn’t great on this front, sadly. While I am impressed by the size of the ambition on display here, the execution is somewhat poor. Jumping feels clunky, which is an issue in a game with as much jumping in as this one. The rope swinging is an exercise in frustration, as swinging and releasing and actually making it where you are aiming requires a lot more luck than I seem to have at my disposal. And don’t even get me started on the jumping from rope to rope!
While we are on the subject of traversal, trying to climb a ladder and get off it at the top more often than not leads to Icaro getting stuck, just long enough to get shot to ribbons or for a bot to come along and kick him.
Combat is passable, and the gun that Icaro is equipped with seems to have a nifty line in homing attacks, which helps with killing enemies without putting yourself in danger. Each enemy that he kills seems to provide not only a small health boost, but also some charge for his trusty sidearm. Basically, killing things should see you okay.
There’s another annoyance with the combat as well though, which is that when you move from a screen, by scrolling either left or right, or even up, all the enemies on the screen you have left respawn; if you miss a jump you usually end up in a massive fight with a load of enemies you’ve already killed once, which soon gets old given how many jumps you’ll miss. It can work in your favour, however and as an example, on the route to the second boss, the level fills with lava, and there are a couple rope swings that see you tumble into it. Luckily, Icaro appears to be fireproof, and can jump through the lava to safety. Here, an enemy robot constantly respawned, immediately died in the lava, and then topped my health off, essentially making me invincible until I got through that section. So, you know, swings and roundabouts…
Graphically The Legend of Icaro looks and runs okay. The sprites are small, but even the bosses don’t look like anything special. What is noticeable though is that they and our character are often dwarfed by the size of the screen vertically, which makes fighting bosses and guessing their attack patterns a little trickier than it needs to be. The sound is better than average, with some good effects from the guns and also some nice music, so the game at least gets a tick there.
In conclusion, The Legend of Icaro is just about okay – no more than that – and it doesn’t take long for that okay hook to let you go. That okay is about the sum of it in terms of the combat and music, but the traversal lets it down. The final nail in the coffin – as of time of writing – is there are no achievements attached.
The Legend of Icaro is available from the Xbox Store