Icarus Review

Enduring the wilderness of Icarus 

Action-adventure survival games with sandbox elements have always been a blessing in disguise. These genres spawned a wide variety of legendary games that will be remembered for many more years to come, and Icarus is on track to become such a game. A detailed review is in store for Icarus, as there are plenty of things to consider before buying it.

Icarus is a survival game that RocketWertz, the game’s developer, released in December 2021. It saw a lot of initial success and was initially meant to release as a free-to-play survival game. As it got closer to the release date, RocketWertz decided to release the game in a paid state through chapters instead. This decision saw some scrutiny, but it didn’t impact the final product much. 

Icarus — Holding a Stone Hammer

It’s been one whole year since Icarus was released, and it’s been shrouded in mixed reviews across the board. Regardless of the consensus, it offers quite a few unique and refreshing gameplay aspects that should be explored further.

Story & concept

Set on the fictional planet of Icarus, roughly four light years away from Earth, and with similar conditions. Its proximity to Earth made it susceptible to exploitation. Humans attempted to terraform the land, yet that entire process eventually failed due to the discovery of certain exotic matter.

All of this left the planet pretty uninhabitable, but it also piqued the interest of certain individuals wanting to extract these exotic materials. This interest incited a gold rush of sorts, with prospectors flocking to Icarus to find as many valuable exotic materials as possible. 

Icarus — Inside Your Pod

Once collected, these exotic materials are converted into more advanced technology once prospectors return to orbit from Icarus, and the cycle continues indefinitely.

The planet of Icarus has sparked a lot of political turmoil on Earth, and it continues to fuel tensions as more prospectors take an interest in its exotic materials. Some prospectors are forgotten on Icarus, while others are skilled enough to return to orbit triumphant. Which will you be?

Planet Icarus

Although Icarus was generally thought uninhabitable, xeno-engineers successfully released modified embryos and halted the terraforming process. A process like this left Icarus uninhabitable, yet not enough to where prospectors with proper gear couldn’t access it. Now, this is where you come into play—a random prospector looking to survive and plunder the harsh byproducts of Icarus.

Everything from the savage wildlife to the volatile environment is out to get you. You’re also not the only apex predator on Icarus, as there are plenty of other apex predators that reign supreme. Survival encompasses gathering resources and meticulous planning as you try to find sources of oxygen and food to sustain you between the storms.

Icarus — Cutting a Tree

Furthermore, you can explore over 128 square kilometers of terrain across two maps on Icarus. There are tons of natural resources everywhere. Every tree, rock, and natural formation is harvestable. It doesn’t stop there, as you can tame and ride creatures that would’ve otherwise looked at you as food.

Naturally, all of this becomes easier with more people. You can invite up to 8 of your friends on Steam to help you on your missions to Icarus. The more people with you, the easier it is to tackle Icarus’ volatile nature. 

Graphics

Graphics usually aren’t prioritized in extensive survival games, and what sets Icarus apart from many other survival games is its breathtaking graphics. 

Every part of the environment is really detailed, and emphasis has been put on making textures realistic. This realistic quality also applies to the lighting and time cycles, with shaders attempting to mimic real-life lighting. 

The graphics in Icarus are more than impressive, so much so they’re a top contender in the survival niche. RocketWertz managed to create a life-like world that draws much inspiration from Earth. 

Icarus — On the Lake Side

However, what makes it even more interesting is the fact that they infused it with a much more compelling sense of beauty and ruthlessness. The best way to discover what we mean is by experiencing the game yourself. 

Sound and atmosphere

Sound design is yet another thing that Icarus prides itself on. You’re bound to notice just how crisp and top-notch the sounds are in this game, and it perfectly ties in with the atmosphere. Immersing yourself into the world won’t be too hard, mainly because the sound and atmosphere work together. 

Whether you’re just going on an expedition or entering Icarus in sandbox survival mode, the world and atmosphere are vast. You will encounter many different biomes, such as forests, deserts, and oceans. The type of creatures that spawn in these biomes will also vary depending on the day and night cycle—yet another variable that impacts the game’s overall atmosphere.

Icarus — Inside the Snow Biome

Certain sounds may seem generic at times, but it’s sometimes impossible to innovate when it comes to miscellaneous sound design in survival games. The most critical connection is how well it works with the atmosphere, yet another area in which Icarus excels.

Gameplay

Now that we’ve gotten the core aspects of the game down let’s dive into the gameplay and how you’ll be experiencing Icarus firsthand. 

Icarus is similar to another survival game, The Forest, in its approach to gameplay. Our review of the Forest will shed more light on that if you’re interested.

Regardless, Icarus’ gameplay can be summarized in a few crucial points:  

  • Game Modes 
  • Progression 
  • Crafting 
  • Building 

Those are the core gameplay aspects that you will, in one way or another, have to interact with if you want to play Icarus. These make every survival game popular, and covering them will give you a better idea of how to survive. 

Game modes

Icarus — Prospect List

There are three game modes in Icarus that you can explore. Each one of them will have you visit Icarus, but they’re still different in nature. 

  1. The first is arguably the best one, and it appeals to a large majority of Icarus’ fanbase – sandbox survival
  2. The second one follows the concept of the story because it has you go on limited-time expeditions
  3. The third and final game mode revolves around creative outposts with regenerating resources and safe areas. This mode won’t test your survival abilities as much; it’s meant more for people who want to play the game creatively.

Sandbox survival is very similar to expeditions, and one of the major differences between the two is the added time limit. Both survival and expeditions have you tackle things like thirst, hunger, resource gathering, crafting, and building. On the other hand, expeditions also require you to gather a certain exotic material that you eventually need to escape with to earn Ren (currency).

Progression & crafting

Progression can be boiled down into three distinct tech trees that will help you survive everything Icarus throws at you:

  • Planetary Tech Tree
  • Workshop Tech Tree
  • Player Talents

The planetary tech tree covers four tiers of tech that unlock everything you’ll need for crafting and building. This tech tree includes primitive tools, advanced composites, and other electronics. If you invest in this tree, you’re sure to unlock different building materials, making this one of the most essential skill trees for survival.

Icarus — Planetary Tech Tree

Player talents are also among the most crucial skill trees in Icarus. These unlock what the name implies: talents. Each talent offers something unique and will further aid you in your expeditions or sandbox survival worlds. Player talents encompass combat, hunting, gathering, building, farming, and so much more. Investing into player talents is a no-brainer if you value your life.

Lastly, we have the workshop tech tree, which is just an extension of something called ‘Orbital’ tech. This skill tree mainly applies to limited-time expeditions, as it’s related to the orbital stations that prospectors frequent. Prospectors such as yourself invest in the orbital tech tree to craft more advanced items via space station workshops. 

Icarus — Workshop List

There’s a wide variety of items that the orbital tech tree unlocks. But, the most common are different types of envirosuits and modules that increase your resistance to Icarus’ harsh environment.    

Building

Building in Icarus is as straightforward as it is in most survival games. It’s best not to mess with a system that works, so instead of revolutionizing it, RocketWertz built upon the general survival building system by adding more materials to work with.

Here’s a list of all of the materials available in Icarus:

  • Thatch
  • Wood
  • Stone
  • Concrete
  • Aluminium
  • Glass

You will gradually unlock better-quality building material blueprints as you gain more experience and advance through the skill tree tiers mentioned above. This system prevents people from making overpowered bases early in their expedition runs and survival worlds.

Icarus — Placing Wood Pile Down

The building mechanics are also straightforward. There’s a basic grid interface that lets you place the building pieces wherever you please, and there are other common building options like rotation and snapping. Much of which feels like the building system found in RUST. These mechanics come together to form a smooth building system with much cohesion.

Replay value

If you consider everything we mentioned, it’s clear that there’s a colossal amount of replay value with Icarus. Although it is commonly viewed as just another survival game, there is much more to it that you can only experience if you play it.

What amplifies its replay value are the various game modes that you’re encouraged to try. The limited-time missions/expeditions are great for anyone wanting to really immerse themselves in the story and concept behind Icarus. However, if the life of a prospector ends up boring you, you can always switch to sandbox survival and attempt to tame the wild beast that is Icarus.

Icarus — Pod in the Snow

The fact that you can do all of this with up to 8 people is astonishing. It creates an environment that will have you coming back for more. The only real downside that has critics and users leaving with mixed feelings is the instability and bugs surrounding Icarus. Let’s hope those issues are put to an end soon enough.

Icarus never sleeps

Icarus can’t be categorized into one single genre; it tackles many themes and shows you a world that doesn’t adhere to conventional rulesets. To top it all off, you will not be forced to follow a specific playstyle, which is vital for any sandbox survival game. And since it is in between the action-adventure and survival genres, Icarus should appeal to fans of both.

Icarus’ abundance of features may seem overwhelming initially, but you’ll eventually come to enjoy the complexity of it all. It’s worth mentioning that in the game’s first half hour, we accidentally burned down surrounding forests, our home base, and it was nothing short of incredible. Despite the mixed reviews, there’s still a lot to discover on Icarus, and we’d urge you to watch some gameplay before forming an opinion.

Icarus launch trailer

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About Digital Ghost

Dg is the founder and co-owner of Corrosion Hour, a niche gaming community established in 2016 focusing on the survival game RUST. He is an active and contributing member of numerous other RUST communities. As a community leader and server owner for over 15 years, he spends much of his time researching and writing guides about survival games, covering topics such as server administration, game mechanics, and community growth.

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