Posted by: Ben | October 9, 2014

if: Icepunk

Those IF Comp 2014 disclaimers again:

  1. Even if I hate your game, I love you.

  2. Your game is better than mine, since I haven’t written anything capable of being shown to another human being. But criticism is a skill too!

  3. Ratings are on a three-point scale of Great, Good and Grim, which will be finessed into a rating out of ten in time for the competition voting deadline.

  4. This review may contain (a) spoilers right to the end of the game in question, (b) adult themes and (c) material that some people may find offensive.

On with today’s review, which is Icepunk, a Twine game by Page13oy.

(But first I’d like to take this opportunity to enthusiastically agree with this post by Carolyn VanEseltine on the subject of Twine as Interactive Fiction.)

Although the setting of Icepunk initially appears to be SF, the game quickly permits itself to equivocate between fantasy and realism, sometimes within the same paragraph. The gorgeous pixel art helps the player orientate themself within the world as well as reinforcing the thematic link between abandoned habitations and hypothetical penguins. The collage technique has been used sparingly, in the form of a few carefully curated quotations and the occasional link to the tweets of some rando. Twine is a younger medium than the traditional IF creation tools, and Icepunk’s Web integration feels only natural. The overall effect is less a believable world than a possibility space where adventures happen, something you could also say about the Web itself.

Ice. (Punk not pictured.)

Ice. (Punk not pictured.)

The outcome is more of an experiential fiction than an interactive one, something that couldn’t be achieved in any other medium and yet left this reader with an odd sense of unease. The story of a lonely character, accompanied only by skeletons and sleeping computers which lurk at the margin of the narrative, who goes on a quest to build what is described as a utopia, but really only amounts to restoring the novels of the currently dead and the Twitter accounts of the soon-to-be-dead. A restoration of knowledge without people is a solipsistic sort of utopia.

As someone who doesn’t, deep in my heart, believe that the people you see on the internet are alive in the same way that you and I are, I can sympathise. Internet people with their “communities” and their “politics” and their general obnoxiousness. Always connecting and that. Almost unimaginable that they could have real lives comparable to ours, but logically, I suppose someone must have written all these games.

Rating: Good.



  1. […] piece was also reviewed by Liz England, Alan DeNiro, Another Mr Lizard, Elizabeth, and Jason […]

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