Review code provided with many thanks to Ferulox Studios.
Medieval Freeze Rays
Ice Nosfe is a 2D arcade game that takes inspiration from some of the all-time greats like Tumblepop and Bubble Bobble (a personal favourite). You won’t need to go to an arcade and insert a coin to play this one. You can enjoy some arcade goodness in the comfort of your own home alone or with a friend on PC.
Just like an old-school arcade game, the plot is simple. As the Van Helsing brothers, Klaus and Waldo, you are on a mission to destroy these giant monstrous floating heads. Your weapon of choice is not a crossbow, sword or spear. In true Medieval fashion, you are going to use a freeze ray. It’s a rather silly premise, but I will give the developer credit for creating something that feels original and would very much fit right at home next to the arcade titles of the 80s or 90s.
The game presents a standard pixel design and a 2D-level structure. It gets the job done with its friendly look, although it doesn’t really give the game a unique personality. The chiptune soundtrack isn’t very pleasant on the ears. It kinda just pierced my eardrums in the wrong way with its tempo, so I played a lot of the game in silence.
Defeat The Boss
The goal of each level is to take out the giant floating monster head, which hovers around the 2D level. You can’t attack the boss directly; you need to use your freeze ray to attack the small enemies which move around the level. These can only be attacked on platforms and not while climbing ladders. Initially, I thought this was annoying, but it adds some extra strategy to the game.
Once an enemy is frozen, you store it in your backpack. You can then shoot a frozen block at the boss, damaging its health. If you store three enemies at once, you can fire a stronger ice block causing more damage. Repeat this until the boss is vanquished, and move on to the next level. There are five bosses to defeat across ten levels; it’s likely it’ll take you multiple attempts to reach the end, learning the level structure and enemy patterns the old arcade way.
One Life, Five Health Shards
You only have one life, but you do have five health shards. You can replenish these by firing ice blocks at other enemies and spawning some health pickups. Of course, your freeze ray has limited ammo. Once it dwindles, a water power-up will spawn. Still, you may need to navigate the ladders carefully, avoiding the boss and enemies carefully in the process until you are loaded up again. It’s a gameplay flow that is easy to pick up and play, and even better if you can bring a friend in for some co-op fun. Keep in mind this is local online unless you use remote play on Steam. The game can be played with a controller or keyboard, and the controls are presented with a simple instruction screen before the game begins.
I did have a niggle with the freeze ray. This requires you to mash the attack button; the faster you do this, the quicker they freeze, but it does feel pretty uncomfortable using the controller. It would have been handy if the developers allowed you just to hold the attack button, even if that caused the freeze shots to trickle out instead.
The game strategy doesn’t feature any form of high score system. Once you die, you are just bumped back to the start of the game, ready to start another run. This seemed pretty odd as this is kind of a staple design to arcade games giving the incentive to replay.
Cool as Ice
Ice Nosfe is a satisfying arcade hit that will scratch that pick-up-and-play itch and make it all the more fun if you can bring a loved one along for the freeze-ray mayhem. The game feels a bit bare bones in places lacking a scoring system and maybe even building further on the design, such as more power-ups and varied level design. But as it is like a standard coffee I make at home (milk, no sugar), it gets the job done but doesn’t offer more than that.
Ice Nosfe is coming soon to Steam; you can check the game out here.