PEGBRJE: New Ice York and Echoes of the Fey Episode 1: The Fox’s Trail

I… his name is Criminal. Who did this to a child?

New Ice York is a detective narrative title made by magicdweedoo, moniker for an indie dev with an interesting taste in visuals. Players follow the top agent in New Ice York, the city frozen solid due to some bizarre means. Following this, the police chief has decided to put the agent in charge of discovering why this occurred in the hopes of removing the Ice from New Ice York.

Players follow a relatively familiar understanding of narrative adventures, as the agent wanders the town looking for clues that may tip him off. There are signs to read, people to interact with, and text messages to receive from individuals that give their number for contact. From my time playing, there didn’t appear to be any items of evidence to acquire, so my time spent hovering over every item on the ground may have been wasted. Most information is gained by talking with specific individuals, which afterwards can cause the world state to shift slightly — people will be in different houses as time passes, with different dialogue to impart. These dialogue pieces will either give an exact clue on where to go, or just give useless factoids about the person that may become not useless later on.

What most people will immediately notice about New Ice York isn’t the writing or combat mini games, but instead the interesting art style. Depending on one’s preferences, this is either the greatest thing ever, or the worst thing ever. I don’t see it not being polarizing; to some, this is counter-culture art at its finest, the embodiment of art that can express bizarre emotions and feelings through its unrefined imagery and roughness. Others will see this as an explosion of blue MS paint adventures and immediately throw in the towel. Me? I do admit I was confused and a little shocked at first, but it definitely grew on me so I guess I’d be in the first category now. That or I’m in a third category of appreciation for someone that decided to make an entire game regardless of the ‘artistic face value’ that many games usually need. Make no mistake, however, that many people won’t talk about this game for any other reason but how they felt about the art and the bizarre spelling nomenclature at times. It looks rough, but that seems to be the point.

Normally I bundle titles up to give a neat summary to finish, but New Ice York is a little more challenging to do so because of just how rough around the edges it appears. There’s a fun narrative within that many may miss, but at the same time perhaps I’m overselling a bizarre adventure about a city that somehow froze completely overnight. I don’t know, this game is something crazy. If this sounds like your kind of adventure, by all means dive directly into this and other works by magicdweedoo. You’ll love the absurdity and fun it can provide, even some of the fetch quests.

Sometimes you just need to get out and trespass as a private detective, y’know?

Echoes of the Fey Episode 1: The Fox’s Trail is a detective visual novel made by Woodsy Studio, an indie dev team out of St. Louis. In this first installment of the series, players follow the life of Sofya Rykov, a human private investigator living in a world of magic and fey called Leshins. Accompanied by one such Leshin by the name of Dr. Heremon ir-Caldy, Sofya takes on a bizarre job of locating a missing person who is considered dead by everyone but his mother. That’s not the only problem, however, as Sofya has to keep her own secret locked up tight, as she is seemingly the only human able to use the magic of the leshin.

Echoes of the Fey is a detective novel in game form, meaning that much of the time players will spend is interacting with individuals to find leads while exploring the city of Vodotsk. Players are given the ability to control Sofya’s movements in a 2D world, choosing who she wishes to interact with at any given time and where she wishes to go. Once an interaction begins, it’s up to the players to make decisions based on the information they have and the information they seek. While my first instinct is to usually just click every option available and just ‘roll with it’, Sofya is unfortunately not able to do that; many decisions will alter how the interaction goes and what she learns. At times there will be choices to make that will may give information but ruin any relationship she may have had with that individual, or she may bolster a relationship knowing she will have to search elsewhere for clues. These choices don’t pop out and say as much, but the tones of each choice is usually a good indicator of where the conversation will go. Hard to stay BFFs with a witness if Sofya insults them to their face.

As with visual novels, much of the enjoyment players get is from those interactions themselves, especially the characters that converse with each other and the dialogue that occurs after a choice has been made. Sofya and Heremon have a very ‘Sherlock and Watson’ prose about them, as Sofya is very loose and fast while Heremon is methodical and uptight. Sofya is known to be passed out from drinking into the hours of the morning, or doing dangerous acts such as polymorphing into a cat without preparation while Heremon appears as the character that always is cleaning up after her. It’s a solid foundation to work with, and since they are both from different species previously at war it opens up many different conversations that can be held between the two, altering from serious topics to lighthearted ones quite easily. I’d also like to give a mention that many of the characters are fully voiced, with some instances of ‘short-hand vocals’ as I call them; not voicing the entire dialogue, just the attitude of the piece itself through a different short sentence. It helps to add even more personality to those that have full VA, giving their voice more colour while I’m reading through the dialogue.

The mystery continues forward in an open path for players to find out just what happened in Echoes of the Fey, which makes the journey that much more exciting when playing. There is only one ‘solution’ that players can come across, but how players reach that solution may be different depending on how they decide to handle certain conversations. There are tones of dialogue to go through and figure out, with little ‘mini-quests’ to build trust in others. If you are looking for a visual novel that can double as a sleuthing good time, try this one out and see if it’s your jam.

Speaking of jams, this soundtrack is a bop.

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Jacob Vorstenbosch

Jacob Vorstenbosch

Just a Game Dev who decided to take on the monumental task of giving an overview of all 59 pages in the bundle for Racial Justice and Equality. We keep going.