Our Score: 8/10
ICARUS is a session-based PvE survival game for up to eight co-op players or solo. Explore a savage alien wilderness in the aftermath of terraforming gone wrong. Survive long enough to mine exotic matter, then return to orbit to craft more advanced tech. Meet your deadline or be left behind forever.
What is ICARUS?
On Icarus, humanity’s biggest blunder, you must survive a hostile alien wasteland. Explore, harvest, craft, and hunt while seeking your fortune in this harsh environment.
Prospectors drop to the planet’s surface for limited time periods from their orbiting station. Here they learn to cope with the foreign environment, execute faction assignments, and search for rare exotic resources. Those that make it back to orbit as seasoned veterans convert their exotics into advanced technology. And they take on increasingly difficult drops with their newfound knowledge. Those who are left behind are forever lost.
Icarus was supposed to be a second Earth, but when terraforming failed, the air became toxic. And thus humanity’s aspirations of colonizing a new world were dashed. Icarus became a parody, a symbol of humanity’s failure to grasp for the stars. However, when xeno-biologists found the source of the failure. Exotic matter – a new wave of interest arose. These “exotics” were so valuable that they created a gold rush, increasing political tensions on Earth and attracting prospectors to Icarus.
Many missions revolve around harvesting the planet’s valuable resources, which may need days of travel and survival, as well as the construction of roads, bridges, and vehicles to get to the lucrative minerals, mine them, and carry them back to your dropship. However, faction missions may include tasks such as constructing a building for a customer or locating and recovering a specific object on the planet that was left behind by a previous expedition.
While Icarus’ session-based gameplay intrigues me, the crafting mechanism is more typical. As you play, you accumulate XP (together with your friends’ shared XP), and these character levels grant you access to higher tiers of crafting recipes, which can be unlocked by paying points.
It doesn’t appear to be an option for individuals who want to settle down on Icarus, create a permanent base, and live off the land, as I’m sure many will. You’ll have to leave the planet after the mission clock runs out, and you won’t be able to return to the same area, no matter how lovely the cabin you constructed there is.
In terms of gameplay, this has been a fantastic experience for me. It blends survival and base-building features, as well as some macro advancement on top of the session-based action. It’s difficult to make completely precise comparisons, but that hasn’t stopped others from trying. In terms of survival and base-building gameplay, I’d compare it to a cross between Valheim and Deep Rock Galactic, with its session-based growth. But it’s more of the former than the latter because the sessions are longer (you usually have multiple days in-game to achieve your objectives) and it’s very much “play at your own speed.”
Look and Feel
Icarus, by the way, is stunning to look at, with crystal clear rivers and lakes, towering trees that sway in the wind, and snow-capped mountains looming on the horizon. Icarus takes place on an 8×8 km landmass, and just scrolling through the map in the menu is intriguing. We’re in a pleasant forest biome now, but on the map, I can see massive mountain ranges, freezing arctic biomes, arid deserts, and rocky canyons, and long rivers snaking through grassy plains.
Even if you’re below the minimum specs, you won’t have trouble running this game. And even then the game ends up looking pretty.
ICARUS is an incredible survival game that will pull in even the most veteran survival genre lovers. The team has done a great job already with the foundation of the game and as with most survival games, I’m sure it will only improve. This is a modern survival game and has some solid building blocks already in place.
Time plus survival games like this are a match made in heaven. And from here I’m excited to see how they improve on it. They’ve been listening to community feedback as well so that’s a good positive.