About a month ago, a friend of mine introduced me to this game called Guns of Icarus Online. I had no prior knowledge of the title. I was unaware of the genre, never saw any gameplay footage – nothing.
This was something completely new to me, and I had low hopes at first. Usually, when I’m introduced to an indie game, the process of me playing it goes as such: Buy, download, install, play for an hour, put it away, and forget I even own it.
Indie games are really a huge hit and miss for me, because most are incredibly cheap and hold little content. But Guns of Icarus Online was something pleasantly surprising -- like trying a new food that I would find I loved.
Guns of Icarus Online is essentially a game based around airship combat. But here’s the kicker. It isn’t a strategy game, it isn’t a side-scroller. It’s in first person, and an airship takes four people to maintain and run. It’s a multiplayer game that really, really emphasizes the aspect of teamwork to succeed. And the best part is, it’s good at it.
In my experience, my friends and I always play multiplayer games while communicating via Skype so that we can work better and complete goals quicker. Guns of Icarus had us literally yelling at each other as if we were actually on the ship together. I’d pilot The Fairy Foot (our ship’s name) through clouds, over mountains, and under bridges, telling my friends to shoot which cannons where or which parts to fix. It was so… intense.
In a really slow paced way, it felt like legitimate airship combat – if there’s even a real thing. As if I know what it’s like, but it’s fun and scary and a great way to work at communication and teamwork. I actually have nothing bad to say about the gameplay.
On the other hand, I do have some major gripes about the customization aspect of Guns of Icarus Online. See, I never have a problem with customization if there is none to begin with. And see, there’s a bit of customization to be done in this game, but it’s all either locked or obtained through microtransactions.
The former is understandable, except for the time it takes to actually unlock them. The latter? Those are horrible. This is a personal preference, and hopefully I speak for many people when I say this: Microtransactions are awful. Companies should never, ever do them. In terms of cosmetics, they should be included in the game to be unlocked. In terms of gameplay, only for expansions and add-ons. In terms of mechanics? Pay to win is just as awful as microtransactions.
The aesthetics of Guns of Icarus Online are actually quite pretty. It has an awesome art style and a lot of what’s unlockable, that doesn’t require you to pay real money, isn’t half-bad looking itself. In terms of ship customization, well, that’s a different thing. I’m not sure if you can purchase add-ons for it, but you can certainly choose from a variance of turrets, cannons and other weapons to bulk up the offensive aspect of your ship. Oh, and you can also rename it from the presets.
My ship went from being the Goldfish to the Fairy Foot. Why? I dunno. But there’s something so funny and ridiculous knowing that I’m dominating the enemy in a ship called “the Fairy Foot”.
All-in-all, I’d honestly say Guns of Icarus was a near-perfect example of what an indie game is capable of being if it weren’t for the customization problems. The gameplay is phenomenal and original, the music is great, the art-style is pretty – it’s a really great game. If anybody is interested, you can purchase it via Steam for $15. And if I were you, I’d get your friends in on it, too. This is definitely a game to enjoy with your buddies.
Neil Kristjansson's "Menifee Plugged In" column appears each week. He writes about two things of interest to most of the younger generation -- music and electronic gaming. He welcomes your comments here or though email at firstname.lastname@example.org.