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When Indie games go wrong: Guns of Icarus reviewed

When Indie games go wrong: Guns of Icarus reviewed

In Guns of Icarus, the player is a Zeppelin crewman struggling to cross dangerous territory with his ship and cargo intact. Sky pirates attack from every direction, and time must be split between shooting at the pirates and repairing the damage they’ve done. Between levels, the guns on the ship can be switched out with new ones.

Gun management screen of Icarus


Each level runs the same way—the player’s character starts out on the ship, and pirates are attacking. The pirates have several different types of ships, but they all take the same strategy to defeat—shoot them until they die. If the ship survives for a set amount of time, then it has arrived at its destination and the player wins.  This is accomplished by running from gun to gun depending on where the pirates are in relation to the ship, and when a section of the ship is too badly damaged, running to that section to spend time repairing.

Each level begins at the helm of the Icarus

In the single player campaign, the player chooses which city to fly to next, but the only thing that changes is the number of pirates. Depending on the success of the mission, the player can purchase more guns for the ship. Whatever the player does, the last level is always the same: Fly into the heaviest infestation of pirates, and survive for as long as possible. There is no final destination, only death. The ship never lands or takes off (that the player can see), and the character never interacts with any other characters on screen. Shoot stuff. Repair. Repeat until dead.

Shoot at lots of tiny plane shaped specks.

There is really no story here at all. Each level has a little postcard before it with some trite description of the hardships of that region, but there is no explanation whatsoever of the main character’s (note that I don’t use the word protagonist) motivations. Why is he delivering cargo? Why does it have to be in a Zeppelin? Who is he delivering to? Why does he commit suicide-by-pirate at the end? Why did he bring cargo with him when he went off to die? No explanation is given for anything, and the entire campaign is over in about 20 minutes.

This map represents all the story that the player gets.

Multiplayer games are just the same thing with more people on the ship, which is slightly more fun since there has to be some division of labor and a team must be managed—but it still comes down to the same things over and over again. Playing with strangers with whom you have no method to communicate only frustrates the gameplay. When the level is over, everyone gets kicked out of the session and back to the main lobby. As quick as the games are, that gets old fast.


This game’s only redeeming feature is the theme. Everything has a bit of a Victorian steampunk feel, which far too few games have. The graphics are good enough, but all you really get to see is the ship. Other ships are too far away for any real detail, and everything else is shrouded by clouds. There must be no such thing as a clear sky in this world.

The only pirates you really get close to have ships similar your own, only smaller, and without any people on them.


The character gets around the tiny ship with standard FPS controls.


The music is okay, but a bit grating after awhile. The multi-player lobby music is annoying to the point that it must be turned off. There is no voice acting.

Last Word

As cool as it sounds to be fighting off sky pirates with Tesla cannons, and as sweet as the game looks with its Victorian styling, I’m going to tell you to give this one a miss. I would tell you to try the demo to see for yourself, but there is no demo; possibly because there is so little content to begin with.


  1. BuddyJ
    BuddyJ I am disappoint.
  2. Winfrey
    Winfrey They could have used our irc chats to fully develop a compelling story revolving around Helium and Helium pirates.

    Instead I am disappoint.
  3. primesuspect
    primesuspect Aye. This game, it could have been so much.

    The Blue Oktober shall look for fairer skies, my friends.
  4. kryyst
    kryyst Only played the flash game, but beyond graphics the game play doesn't seem to have expanded much. Which is to say boring.
  5. primesuspect
    primesuspect I just played this game tonight; I don't know how I got it, it must have been bundled in one of the Indie packs on Steam.

    It sucks.
  6. Thrax
    Thrax It's in the Indie Flight Pack. It sucks.
  7. Crius I enjoyed it. I bought the "full" game for 5 bucks and spend far more time than 20 minutes. The route pictured in the review shows the simplest of all ways ... and the way with the smallest rewards. Those another route to expand your arsenal and to survive longer at the last mode.
    Yes, it's no big thing, but I know games that cost more and deliver less.

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