There are dozens of survival games. Among them there are both excellent products, popular and loved by hundreds of thousands of players, and those that are instantly forgotten by the community, you just have to play a little in them. What does a good survivor need? Someone will put an advanced crafting system in the first place. Of course, a very important thing, because without crafting your character will not be able to create something important for survival in an aggressive environment. Others will prioritize exploring uncharted territory. It is also a necessary element of the gameplay – the genre in question is very conservative, and it will get bored very quickly to develop in one place without traveling. Still others will tell you that the setting of the game and the story are important to them. Surviving without any goal, not understanding why everything is happening at all, is not a pleasure. In general, a person without a goal very quickly falls into apathy, and then into depression, which is already a mental illness. So yes, purpose is needed in everything, including games.
But in video games there is one element, without which everything described above (and dozens of other equally important criteria for a good survival game) will not work, no matter how hard the developers try. And this element, the foundation, is optimization. Whatever design masterpiece the studio has released, if it is poorly optimized in technical terms, then most likely this game will be very quickly forgotten, having previously destroyed its rating among the community.
Dean Hall, author of DayZ, knows almost everything there is to know about survival games. Without irony, he can be called the luminary of the genre. He knows all the nuances that are necessary to create a successful “survivalist”. And I am sure that he knows that the player, before he finds out what a wonderful world they have created for him, what mechanics have been implemented in the gameplay, what fascinating music will accompany the hero’s adventures, will first face one important fact: the game works without brakes or a natural slideshow takes place on the screen.
On December 4 of this year, a new survival game from Dean Hall was released – Icarus… We will talk about it today.
Icarus (Icarus) is a planet that earthlings wanted to turn into a new home and were actively engaged in terraforming it. It turned out with varying degrees of success. On the one hand, it was possible to assimilate the flora and fauna from the Earth with the help of various genetic modifications. The usual spruce and pine trees grow all around, fussy hares dart about in the bushes, and aggressive wolves hunt them. On the other hand, something went wrong. A failure in the Icarus transformation process caused the planet’s atmosphere to become unfit for human breathing. As a result, globally, humanity abandoned its attempts to colonize Icarus. But this does not mean that the new territory was abandoned to the mercy of fate.
Shrewd corporations will never waste their money just like that, and they certainly always strive to return the investment. While humanity for the most part dreamed of romantic dreams of a “new home”, corporations needed the planet only for the extraction of very valuable and rare, even unique resources. Xenobiologists have found that exomatter, a new and expensive resource, was the main reason for the failure. Interest in Icarus flared up with renewed vigor. Just as in the 19th century, the Gold Rush swept the inhabitants of the New World, the discovery of new material created a new round of political tension on Earth, and prospectors rushed to Icarus. This is the kind of hero you play. A good luck catcher who is more important than a real threat to his own life.
Gameplay Icarus is a PvE co-op (up to 8 players on one server) classic survival game. If you have played games such as Rust, Conan Exile, Forest and dozens of others, then this product will not offer you anything new in terms of mechanics. And this is one of the key problems of Ikarus. Of course, you have already guessed about the second, but for now I will not say anything about it.
The game begins with a short briefing from a certain Sol – a pleasant Texan accent will get you up to speed and set the first tasks. Land on the planet, show if you can survive, and shuttle back to the orbital station. So to speak, a “test of strength” of a new prospector. In the load you will be given absolutely nothing, only a spacesuit, which is not much different from ordinary clothes, judging by the fact that the hero is either cold or hot in it, he can get sick in the spacesuit and even suffocate if he does not replenish his oxygen reserves in time. Dean Hall decided not to talk about how the character drinks and eats through this spacesuit, how he goes to the toilet, if you can’t take it off under any circumstances (the atmosphere is poisonous). And this, in my opinion, is his design mistake. It is clear that survival in such games is constantly surrounded by many conventions, but ignoring the banal, I would say primitive logic is not serious. This could be forgiven for newbies, but when you present yourself as a veteran of the genre, such little things sharply cut your eyes and mind.
Enough nagging. Let’s try to accept the game world as it is presented to us. So, our prospector has nothing. Sticks and stones are lying underfoot, bushes grow around, including those with berries. You can also find wild pumpkins and watermelons, and nearby there is a reservoir with clear water in which fish are found. Enough for the first time. We collect various wood and stone rubbish, build ourselves the first primitive tools and instruments – a pickaxe, an ax and a spear. With the help of the first two, we accelerate the extraction of basic resources (stone and wood), and with a spear we kill hares and fish floating in the reservoir. This is how we get the first level. Yes, with an increase in the level of the hero, new knowledge about production opens up, and it also becomes possible to improve any talent of the available three branches of development – survival, construction and combat. There is also a fourth path, which is called “Alone”, but the talents of this branch are activated only when you play in a closed solo session. They don’t work when playing with friends. Any active action in the game, except walking and running, gives your prospector experience points.
This is where the first mission ends. You get into the capsule and go into orbit, where corporations will offer you full-fledged tasks, for the completion of which you will receive a reward in the form of local currency. For this currency, you can order starting equipment for yourself at the orbital station, which you can take with you to the next landing, or study recipes that will become available for creation directly on the planet.
The tasks themselves are quite diverse: someone will ask you to kill a rare beast, someone will send it to scout the area in order to determine convenient points for a future mass landing, and someone needs rare biological resources for research. In addition, the tasks are limited in time, so sometimes you have to hurry up. Naturally, all the progress made by your hero is saved from mission to mission, and by starting a new one, you no longer have to re-explore primitive tools. By the way, even in case of death, you will not see the game over – the place of the deceased prospector will be taken by a new one, having landed not far from the landing site of the main shuttle. Yes, the new researcher will have a certain penalty for gaining experience, but the skills and knowledge will remain the same, and the penalty will be paid off sooner or later. And if you play with friends in the same session, then the penalty can be avoided – you can be resurrected.
But not everything is so rosy. We remind you that each mission has its own duration in time: it can be a couple of hours or even several weeks. So, if you do not have time to get to the shuttle that takes you to the orbital station, no one will come back for you. You are only a consumable, and it is not anyone’s concern whether you stay alive or not. You lose your character for good. Together with his skills and knowledge. There will remain only those things that you yourself left in orbit, plus the technologies learned for money. And you will have to play for another prospector, developing him virtually from scratch.
Otherwise, as mentioned earlier, you get a completely sterile survival machine in terms of new mechanics. The hero focuses on pressing problems: what to eat, whether to cook food on fire or eat raw, where to find oxygen, how and where to build a shelter from bad weather and predators. The game currently features three biomes – forest, snow-capped mountains and desert. It is clear that each has its own characteristics and its inhabitants, and you need to take this into account when completing the next task.
Also, the developers have implemented a weather change in Icarus, which significantly affects your condition. Whether it be wind or pouring rain, the prospector cares, and it also does not care about your buildings – they are gradually destroyed due to the effects of the elements. But they can always be repaired. True, sometimes forest fires happen – whether it is lightning or a burning torch thrown by you, it does not matter. And here it all depends on your luck and the choice of position for building a house. For you will hardly be able to cope with a fiery calamity with a simple fire-resistance.
Visual and optimization
Outwardly, Icarus looks very, very good. Wildlife will always remain beautiful, and it is difficult to spoil something. In addition, the game world is created by hand, and not procedurally generated, as, for example, in Valheim, and here the designers should be commended. The territory is huge, it is declared 64 square kilometers, the sounds add atmosphere. But the music is disappointing – simple synthesizer melodies “a la 70s fantasy” quickly tire, and I personally turned it off completely so as not to drown out the sounds of nature.
Although with such a beauty of the surrounding world, the creation of the character is very scanty – only six face options, a couple of voices, two options for “facial hair” (no or light stubble), several completely ridiculous tattoos on the face and a dozen eye colors, and seven skin tones … It will not be possible to create a beautiful character, apparently, not only animals on Icarus have undergone genetic mutations. And one small nuance that players will definitely pay attention to, and then the developers will have to apologize: if you choose a black skin color, the prospector’s hands remain Caucasian-white. And no, these are not gloves.
But the game also has a huge problem. More precisely, there is no problem, because there is no technical optimization. Generally. At all. Unclear? Let me explain.
If you take a look at the minimum technical requirements (and these are the ones under which the game is guaranteed will start, and will not give you stable 60 frames per second), then you will find in them a very immodest 16 GB of RAM. In “minimal salaries”! In the “recommended”, that is, this is when the game will work for you for sure, but it is not a fact that it is always comfortable, we are already seeing 32 gigabytes of RAM and at least RTX 3060 ti! Not so weak, is not it? Yes, I have such a video card, but I have not seen even 60 FPS in the game – the counter jumps from 24 to 55 frames. And if you start playing with friends, then be prepared for an even larger drop in performance. According to my observations, each player takes 10 FPS from the system. So I’m not jealous of who will host the session.
By the way, the “minimum” indicates Nvidia GTX 1060 6GB, but this is far from reality. Judging by the reviews of the poor fellows who bought Icarus, even 1660 super did not allow at least 30 stable frames. And here it is, the harsh reality, which I wrote about at the very beginning. It doesn’t matter how wonderful from a design or gameplay point of view you make the game, how beautiful and interesting it will be, if the player cannot play it comfortably, the game will fail. Mr. Dean Hall, I’m sure you understand that. And I would happily change my final Icarus score if you add an important “fifth element” to the game – optimization. To release a product only for owners of the fresh RTX 30XX series in the current circumstances with the prices of video cards is a mockery.
As a result
If you love the survival genre, you have good hardware, and there is a desire to play a new “survival game”, then I recommend Icarus for acquaintance. But if you are just planning to get acquainted with the genre, and do not want to get irritation and anger instead of pleasure, then it is better to pay attention to some other similar game, fortunately, there are plenty of them on Steam. Icarus will not offer you anything new, but it will add technical problems to your system, and you – a waste of nerve cells for this reason.
Did not like:
- Lack of something new.