Dec 30, 2012
Publisher: Brick Singularity
With the recent success of the iPad puzzler The Room — recently named the iOS Game of the Year by Apple — it was inevitable that clones would begin to pop up. It certainly didn’t take long; The Icarus Box is a puzzle game like The Room in which your goal is to unlock the secrets of an intricate box with 95 devious puzzles. The puzzles include no hints or instructions and may respond to any of the different input types the iPad can detect including touch, motion and more.
If this premise sounds intriguing to you, you certainly aren’t alone; it closely follows that of The Room, an iPad puzzle game that was downloaded and enjoyed by millions this year. However, The Icarus Box takes place on a smaller scale. The iPad’s screen essentially becomes the top of the puzzle box. Sliding a panel reveals a puzzle that is either random or part of a series. Most puzzles consist of simple objects such as buttons or touch panels; solving a puzzle allows you to advance, while failing sounds a buzzer and boots you back to the box’s top panel.
The puzzle above is a typical example of what you’ll find in The Icarus Box; the two buttons at the bottom of the screen move the brass rings from the left to the right. Your goal is to have both rings reach the ends of their tracks at the same time, but they move at different speeds. However, other puzzles are far more devious, requiring you to change the iPad’s orientation, interact with unfamiliar items or wait for conditions to change.
As you advance, you’ll occasionally see letters from one character to another that explain part of the back story in The Icarus Box. The story is largely irrelevant, but these screens sometimes present clues for future puzzles. You’ll also hear the occasional creepy sound effect or see short video clips designed to make you jump out of your chair if you’re playing in a dark room with headphones as the game recommends. Unfortunately, these additions attempt to make The Icarus Box feel creepy in a rather artificial way compared to The Room, which felt genuinely suspenseful without trying to scare the player at all.
Weighing in at nearly 1 GB, The Icarus Box feels somewhat amateurish compared to the game it attempts to emulate. With its simple two-dimensional graphics, it’s difficult to tell what’s consuming so much space. However, the size of the game clearly affects its load times and time can drag while you wait for puzzles to load.
Overall, although The Icarus Box has some intriguing puzzles and will definitely be of interest to fans of The Room waiting impatiently for a sequel, the game has a serious design flaw that will limit enjoyment for many. A puzzle game without instructions is largely a matter of trial and error. When faced with a panel consisting of a large white touch pad, for example, you might experiment by tapping the pad with one finger followed by two. You might then try drawing symbols and lines. Eventually, you’ll get some feedback that will clue you in to the solution. In The Icarus Box, however, feedback is often nonexistent; making a wrong move simply boots you out of the puzzle and forces you to endure yet another long loading screen.
To make matters worse, the buzzer that sounds when you fail a puzzle is much louder than the rest of the game’s audio — and some of the puzzles in The Icarus Box are impossible to solve if you turn the volume on your iPad down.
Future revisions of The Icarus Box may make it a game that’s truly worth recommending. However, the frequent punishments you’ll have to endure when you fail puzzles strip the game of its potential fun and make it a tedious exercise in frustration.