Towards the end of 2011, Muse Games started a Kickstarter with the simple goal of creating a team-based, airship combat game. Within two months they had reached their goal of $10,000. By the end of the Kickstarter they had raised more than 3 times that. After 8 months of work, Muse Games released a game that combines unusual elements together and they called it Guns of Icarus Online.
The world of Guns of Icarus Online is set 300 hundred years after a long conflict for resources. During this conflict, humanity has squandered any resources that would have taken them forward and have fallen back on the steel from the past. Using this steel they craft airships to travel the land for resources and trade. Being a multiplayer only title, the story is never handed to you and to get the full story you will need to visit the official website.
Before joining the battles of Guns of Icarus Online, you first need to choose your role. You can choose among being an engineer, gunner and pilot. Each role is able to equip 3 role specific items and 1 item for the other two roles. This allows you to be both proficient at your role and help out with the other roles, if need be.
From here you chose what type of skirmish to take part in and what crew to join. Each crew is made of 4 players and any of them can chose be the captain and bring their ship to the table. The ships can be customized with various weapons including mortars, flak cannons, gatling guns and even a flamethrower. Muse Games has gone for a more simulation type combat system. Not only does it matter where you damage enemy ship but also what type of weapon you use to deal the damage.
This is where the strategic elements come from. As the captain/pilot you need select the best weapons and ship to suite your play style. The gunner needs to know what type of ammo to use for each gun for maximum effect. The engineer needs to prioritize what parts of the ship to repair or build first to keep it running.
Though Guns of Icarus is set in a post-apocalyptic world, it has a distinct steam/diesel punk to it. The ships are made steel girders with steel plating as armor and are kept afloat by giant balloons. As ships parts begin to take damage they start smoking and eventually stop working. When a ship is destroyed, it violently explodes and showers the ground with its various parts. The soundtrack has a good mix of simple melodies for the menus and thumping drum beats for the battles. The guns all sound very hard hitting, yet they all have very distinct sounds to them.
There isn’t really a progression system like other games, all items and tools are unlocked from the get go. Instead every role has a log which tracks in-game achievements and these are what are used to increase the rank of the role. If you ever feel like lightening your wallets, there is an in-game store where you can purchase hats and outfits for your character.
Overall I was very impressed by Guns of Icarus Online. Not only does it break the mold by not being a high octane shooter but it manages to blend action and simulation. It manages to be light enough to jump in for a couple rounds and deep enough to keep you playing for hours.
- A really good mix of action, strategy and simulation
- A distinct film grain, steam punk art style
- Game could use a little more polish, the periodic bugs take you out of the experience