Since Icebreaker: A Viking Voyage was developed by Rovio Stars, a new mobile gaming branch-off from Rovio Entertainment, it comes with exceedingly high expectations. Although it will be impossible to top the iconic success of the Angry Birds franchise, a standard of excellence, or at least a high level of game play addiction, should be expected from the Rovio brand. So is this Viking tale an absolute stunner, or does it freeze up and die a painful death?
Gamers take on the role of a novice cutter whose job is to free Vikings that are trapped in massive blocks of ice. Although it's easy to cut through all that frozen water with the simple swipe of your finger, the catch is to land your frozen cohorts onto your ship, where you then can then free them from inertia. Certain stages will require you to cut the ice at a certain level so that your Viking can slide perfectly onto the vessel, and as the challenges get more difficult, the blocks usually have a domino effect with the various items around them.
Treasure is also ripe for the taking, but make sure the coin-filled chest hits the ship first. Once all of the Vikings are saved within a level, you progress to the next stage. Although my colleague is stranded an iceberg, I can worry about him later since booty is coming my way.
The landscapes provided in the game are absolutely top notch, as there's an ample amount of visual variation to keep things exciting. Whether it's interacting with crows, avoiding trolls or going slightly quixotic with a few windmills, each puzzle carries its own mystery.
One of the more difficult challenges has players strategically cutting vines so that the master cutter (he's your mentor in the game), can swing down onto your ship. As he descends and swings back and forth, huge spiked weapons block his path. It took me over 30 tries to survive this section, but thankfully, the engaging game play kept me from losing my cool.
Slicing up Vikings encased in ice is fine and dandy for a mindless few minutes on your iPhone, but the game wants to seduce us into playing all 95 of its levels. Of course, there are in-app purchases to be had during this journey, but thankfully they are not critical to the continuation of the game. Credit Rovio for calling out the elephant in the room, and a little humor goes a long way whenever a developer asks me for a few extra bucks.
Some of the levels have a puzzle that actually stretches past what's actually on the screen and you'll need to use two fingers to swipe your device to check out that extra terrain. Double tapping on the screen will also give you a closer look at a specified area. Even with the zoom in feature, playing Icebreaker on the iPad will give you a much better experience, as catching all the intricacies of the game is somewhat lost on the iPhone. Tablet users will have to pay $2.99 for the superior version, and smart phone gamers can download it for $0.99. If you love getting an up close and personal shot of trolls, the iPad version is the only way to go.
Icebreaker: A Viking Voyage is an entirely diverting and, at times, challenging puzzle game. You'll be doing more than cutting ice in this adventure, as ropes, chains and vines will also be part of your strategic arsenal. Unfortunately, this title doesn't have any Game Center integration, and hopefully that's a flaw Rovio will fix in a future update. Giving us two different prices is also a rather blatant form of game gouging, especially when there are a healthy amount of in-game purchases to be had. Even with these complaints, Icebreaker: A Viking Voyage is still worth a look, especially if you have three bucks to blow.
App Store Link: Icebreaker A Viking Voyage for iPhone & iPad | Rovio Stars | Price: $0.99/$2.99 | Version: 1.0.0 | 32.1/32.0 MB | Rating: 9+