Written by: Stephanie Hsieh
Indie video game developer Muse Games is defying categories with their newest title, “Guns of Icarus Online”, which incorprates elements from a variety of genres to create someone wholly unique
“Guns of Icarus Online” is the spiritual predecessor to Muse Games’ previous release, “Guns of Icarus”. “Guns of Icarus” followed the adventures of the pioneering airship captain Gabriel as he captained his airship through the skies of a post-apocalyptic steampunk-inspired wasteland. The game contained a solo and cooperative mode, where up to three other players could join a player on their ship. “Guns of Icarus Online” takes the cooperative mode of its predecessor and expands on it with its Skirmish mode, which is a full player-vs.-player experience wherein airships—and more importantly their multiplayer crews—face off in the skies.
In Skirmish mode ships are piloted by crews of three players, each of a different character class. The Captain is in charge of marking targets and coordinating the crew’s efforts. The Gunner is responsible for manning the airship’s guns and attacking enemy ships. The Engineer is in charge of putting out first, both literally and metaphorically, and is essential to keeping the airship running. It is possible for crews to choose to play against AI-controlled ships as opposed to ships manned by other players in Skirmish mode. Players unable to find a full complement for their ship may also round out their crew with AI-controlled crew members. However, Muse Games cautions in its FAQ that players who choose to use AI crew will find themselves at a “noticeable disadvantage.”
Adventure mode is slated to be released later as downloadable content. It’s in Adventure mode that Muse Games hopes to incorporate more traditional MMO elements, such as trade, factions, and a world map dotted with towns. Leveling up and going on missions are more MMO elements that Muse Games intends to release with Adventure mode. However, Muse Games is adamant that despite these comparisons they don’t consider “Guns of Icarus Online” to be an MMO. As noted on their website, they “set out to innovate and make a game that doesn’t fit into any established genres,” and feel that the term MMO brings with it preconceived notions that “Guns of Icarus Online” doesn’t necessarilly fulfill.
In light of their statements, trying to pigeonhole “Guns of Icarus Online” in any of the currently-defined game genres seems counter-intuitive and misses the point of what Muse Games was trying to do with their latest project. However, only time will tell if their innovation and genre-bending will pay off.