We’ve had a couple meaty reviews of The Ice-Bound Concordance go live in the past few weeks.
David Chandler wrote a deep dive of his play experience for Killscreen, entitled “Death of the Author”, that opens with this excellent summary of the mood and tenor of playing:
“In the glacial caverns beneath a polar research facility, someone hears a distant groan. No, that’s not right. Maybe she hears laughter instead, but that goes against the tone of the piece—an air of mystery with a heavy sense of foreboding. Distant whispers… no, faint whispers breathing through the ice makes far more sense. Changing that bit of language, of course, only fits one particular moment in a much larger narrative. Still, it feels significant enough given the delicate nature that comes with editing a novel—especially one written by the author’s digital ghost.
Such are the considerations needed in The Ice-Bound Concordance, a game and accompanying book by Aaron Reed and Jacob Garbe that tasks the player with reconstructing the lost novel of the deceased fictional author Kristopher Holmquist.”
Chandler has some difficulties wrestling with the game’s layered complexity, but ultimately concludes it’s a worthy experiment: “language still remains just as provocative and intricate as any system of play, and Reed and Garbe’s extraordinary work rests comfortably among the best of its genre.”
We also saw some in-depth coverage from EuroGamer, in an article calling us “unmissable” and “brilliant” among other nice things (aw, thanks!). Talking about the layered mechanics for sculpting and shaping the story, Christian Donlan writes:
“You’ll maybe think of Melville, Bierce, Pynchon, and, yes, Lee Child, who does not often appear with such company. And at times, it truly feels like writing. Removed as it is, abstracted and streamlined and simplified, you glimpse the intoxicating, terrifying possibility space of writing as you shift symbols around and watch events and endings warp in and out of existence.”
While Donlan also has plenty of elegant critique, his review ends with this lovely insight about how games like Ice-Bound might foreshadow the future of interactive story:
“Ice-Bound, like House of Leaves, is audacious and exhausting and niche – a youthful project, in the very best senses of the word. No killing the plot here. No nose to the page. No late-thirties backstory, no fired-from-a-job-in-telly. Ice-Bound is difficult stuff… But it’s worth it. It’s the clearest example yet of a central truth we are going to have to get our heads around. In games – in any technology, and maybe even that’s too narrow a scope – narrative means writing as often as it means reading.”