Icebreaker: A Viking Voyage is a brand new offering from Nitrome, the browser game team who are responsible for such previous casual addictions as Steamlands, Hot Air 2: All Blown Up, Skywire, and of course the rest of the Icebreaker series. This new outing marks Nitrome's first foray into the mobile realm, and judging by the depth and quality of this release, we really, really hope it isn't their last!
As a young proto-apprentice you're out to prove you have what it takes to study under the cutting master by acing the Hammerfest Games. Just like previous Icebreaker releases, your goal is to guide trapped vikings back to the boat, collecting as many coins as they can along the way. You do this by swiping the screen to cut blocks of ice into small pieces, allowing them to fall, slide, collide and otherwise cause a ruckus on the screen. You can pan around each level by tapping and dragging with two fingers, and if you need to zoom, simply double tap the screen.
Icebreaker is well-known for spicing up the slicing formula with loads of physics-based puzzles. Swinging ropes, rotating structures, weighted levers and all sorts of pseudo-mechanical creations can be manipulated with the right cuts here and there. A Viking Voyage goes well beyond the established deviations and adds brand new features every few levels. Crows on ropes? Good idea. The anti-goat viking and the pro-goat herder are hilarious. And are you ready to play with troll snot? Your face says no, but as soon as you start playing, your fingers will say yes.
Analysis: Icebreaker: A Viking Voyage is structured a bit differently than previous Icebreaker games. Levels are accessed via a world map, complete with paths to tread, alternate routes to unlock, and a few other surprises such as boss battles and secret areas to unlock. The par system isn't switched on until a dozen or more levels in, and even then it's practically optional. There's as much or as little challenge as you want in Icebreaker, but either way it's a good mix of reflex-based levels and puzzling ice conundrums.
There are a few in-app purchases in Icebreaker: A Viking Voyage, but they're completely non-intrusive. The game even points this out in a snarky sort of way. Instead of forcing you to pay to play, Nitrome went the route of awesomeness with a handful of optional power-ups. Finger of the Gods lets you drag vikings around the screen, which we don't have to tell you is very useful. The Magnet of the Gods attracts gold and chests so you don't have to run smack into them to collect them. Gravity of the Gods is the most creative and actually lets you tilt your mobile device to change gravity. That one can be a real game changer. All of these power-ups are limited use and can be purchased in three different package sizes depending on how godly you're in the mood to behave.
One subtle feature Nitrome added that makes the game all the more enjoyable is its narrative. Characters comment on things in the stages, they talk back and forth, the story progresses as you complete stages, and everyone has a great sense of humor. You wouldn't think a physics game like Icebreaker would work well with text, but the balance of words to action is excellent.
Icebreaker: A Viking Voyage is Nitrome's first iOS release, and it's an absolute juggernaut of a game. Over 100 levels to play through, including a handful of challenge levels you can go back and attempt to master. Icebreaker is polished and easy to play, and the pixel art looks gorgeous on an iPhone/iPad's screen. Nitrome couldn't have done a better job bringing the series to mobile devices. A Viking Voyage is perfect!
NOTE: This game was played and reviewed on the iPad 3. Game was available in the North American market at the time of publication, but may not be available in other territories. Please see individual app market pages for purchasing info.