The Ice-Bound Concordance

Screenshot: Two icy blue panels. On one, the player activates a button marked, "A Plain of Broken Ice". On the other, a guide explains the button's use.

First Impressions

The Ice-Bound Concordance is a surreal adventure into a world that may not be so far into the future.  I looked up very little about this game before jumping in and I recommend you do too.  If you are at all intrigued by the first impression section, do not read this full review; simply go get the free app and try it out.

This game pulls you in by pairing you up with a "simulacrum" (or AI) to complete a story.  It is a collaborative process by which you activate certain elements of the story and the simulacrum will string them together into a cohesive story.  Each story element is a socket, and you are allowed to give certain numbers of sockets power at each chapter of the story writing process.  The different combination of sockets will produce different stories.

In addition, the game comes with a physical book (or web PDF demo version) that you use to scan in information to the game, giving it an augmented reality twist.

The character of the simulacrum is eerie and mysterious AI named KRIS, leaving many questions about the back story.  The game beckons you to dive deep into the story creation process to uncover mysteries about your simulacrum companion and I urge you to follow that beckoning.

Going Further

Ice-Bound blew my mind.  To be honest, the story seemed fairly contrived at first: you are working with an AI, the AI is actually basically human, you have to help the AI.  Seems pretty basic and bland at first, certainly a story done over several times.  However, the way they have you work with KRIS and help him is great.  I felt so connected with KRIS the simulacrum and I honestly wanted to do everything in my power to help him.

I think the best part of the game was the book you used along with it.  Something about having an actual book I had to use in conjunction made it all seem more real.  It made it seem like there was actually something going on with this AI and I could possibly help him.

The game play mechanic was also amazing.  The sockets to activate different parts of the story comes to a huge climax when you have to use the same mechanic to determine the fate of your simulacrum companion.  I spent a good thirty minutes playing with the different possible combinations of sockets in an attempt to save the AI.

I was a little sad that I didn’t end up getting to see the partially completed story I had worked on with KRIS.  While I understand the whole story writing mechanic was what dictated what memories KRIS had triggered it would have been interesting to actually see the story we created together.

Overall, I would say Ice-Bound is an amazing game and I’d highly encourage anyone to play it, even if the fruits of your labor aren’t the story you thought you were working on.

- Andrew A.