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Cycling Naked Through a Surrealist Wasteland

Icycle: On Thin Ice is an upcoming mobile and Web game from a UK-based interactive arts and animation studio, and looks fascinatingly bizarre.

By Pete Davison. Published 9 months ago

Icycle: On Thin Ice is apparently the second game in the Icycle series, but it's my first encounter with this beautifully-animated, surreal-looking game.

The UK-based Damp Gnat studio apparently specializes in "developing games for browser and mobile with a strong emphasis on narrative and design to tickle the brain and challenge expectations." Icycle: On Thin Ice certainly gets the brain thinking... mostly the words "What?" and "Why?" over and over again, but at least it's thinking nonetheless.

Icycle: On Thin Ice follows on directly from its predecessor Icycle, which you can play for free on the Web here. The original game introduces Dennis, who awakens from cryogenic sleep with no clothes on, only to discover the world is frozen over and seemingly devoid of all life. The cryo-pod next to his own opens to reveal what appears to be a child's BMX bike, and a little further along, someone or something runs away from another pod, leaving a trail of soap bubbles in their wake. Still naked, Dennis hops atop the bike -- which can't be comfortable in his state -- and attempts to chase down the mystery person or thing.

From what I can make out from the wonderfully cut James Bond-style teaser trailer -- embedded for your delectation above -- Icycle: On Thin Ice once again casts you in the role of Dennis, who has gained a bobble hat since his last adventure. Exactly how representative of his new adventure the trailer is remains to be seen, but if it's an accurate indication in the slightest, Dennis is in for a fairly wild, surreal ride.

The two Icycle games make use of a distinctive, attractive art style that combines Limbo-style silhouettes with a subtle "textured paper" appearance for any colored elements on screen. The gameplay of the original takes the form of an immensely challenging physics-based platform game, but is a good example of how a story can be told without words through the environment.

Icycle: On Thin Ice is set to be released on iOS and via the Web "soon." In the meantime, check out the original and Damp Gnat's other creations here.

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