From heart wrenching emotional narrative to the tackling of tough social issues, the indie gaming scene has forged a stellar reputation for storytelling over the past few years, and we absolutely love it for that. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t equal value in the games that do away with heavy-handed plotlines for a more whimsical, light-hearted gaming experience more akin to a corny B-grade action movie than an epic journey of self-reflection. And in the case of Homegrown Games’ shooter, Into The Ice – Nazis Of Neuschwabenland, that’s a premise they’ve wholeheartedly embraced with open arms.
Into The Ice is the sequel to the Austrian based indie developer’s alternate history sci-fi game Into The Dark, which itself was also a spoof style dark comedy experience. Labelled a “trash experience,” Into The Ice, like its predecessor makes no apologies for its low budget aesthetic, amateur voice acting and cliche story. This is a game that adopts the “so bad it’s good” premise rather deliberately into its game design, which is a theme that certainly made for wonderfully comical moments during Into The Dark.
Into The Ice kicks off 4 years after the end of Into The Dark and follows Peter Brenner, having emerged unscathed after his encounter with alien/Nazi hybrid antagonists of the first game. Brenner is recruited by the CIA to infiltrate the secret Nazi base in a region of Antarctica known as Neuschwabenland, where the ancestors of former Nazi scientists and SS officers are suspected to be harbouring dangerous technologies.
On their way to New Swabia, his helicopter is attacked by monstrous sea creatures, separating our protagonist from the rest of the strike team. Alone on a remote part of the Island, Peter Brenner must now locate his buddies and investigate the foreboding Nazi outpost. Corny enough for you yet?
Into The Ice is certainly eccentric, placing an emphasis on comic relief and tongue in cheek humor without feeling the need to explain itself with any reference to reality or believability. Homegrown Games even throw in the protagonist from another one of their games, Father’s Island, just for a laugh. It’s a comical mashup that pokes fun at itself with references to pop culture throughout and features a good dose of satirical political commentary, too.
But don’t let Into The Ice’s goofy premise fool you into thinking there isn’t a deeper underlying political message within the game. Underneath the facade of parody, there are interesting historical truths to be unearthed, the sort of awkward historical accuracies that are often shoved under the carpet by politically correct media outlets. In fact, it is these political reflections that have seen Into The Dark win several awards from European based indie game community. The series has even received a special jurisdiction from the German government to include visual references to the swastika, a right only reserved for the most special dispensations. History buffs or those interested in the intrigue and mystery of the Nazi party will find plenty of interesting information to uncover amid Into The Ice’s bonkers story.
As in Into The Dark, gameplay is centred around familiar FPS controls and shooter combat, but based on the Homegrown Games’ track record with walking simulators, the game is likely to feature its fair share of puzzle solving, too. Expect to encounter undead creatures, insane Nazi soldiers, or some sort of glorious mix of both in your mission to uncover the secrets of the mysterious island base. To combat this mad concoction of enemies, players will have access to a host of wacky sci-fi experimental Nazi weaponry and gadgets along the way.
We’re particularly interested to see more of this delightful blend of farcical storytelling, mad zombie gunplay, and hilarious pop-culture satire. Unfortunately though, we’ll have to wait until 2017 for the full version of Into The Ice. If you’re curious to check out a teaser level before then, you’re in luck: as a Halloween treat, Into The Dark now features a demo level for Into The Ice available for download via Steam.