Screenshot of gameplay: grid map made of ASCII symbols
You are the last living inhabitant of your Habitat, your only companions the robots that maintain your living spaces. But there is hope… if you can collect enough data to feed the central computer in your Habitat, maybe you can avert catastrophe.
First, the interesting stuff. Icepunk features a procedurally generated landscape, represented on an ASCII map. Likewise, each setting is illustrated with ASCII art. I’m sure this took effort.
Data, in Icepunk’s setting, takes myriad forms. Some comes from the lingering traces of mechanical life – ice golems, families and so forth – but in building your future, you must destroy them. Data also comes in the form of excerpts from (public domain) books and, in one memorable instance, tweets (which nets you ‘5 TB of Frivolous data’…).
However, where Icepunk is weaker is its reliance on lawn-mowering. You have to make repeated trips out into the wastes and return to your home base to deposit the data in the central computer – this is not in itself anything bad, but there seems to be little enough variation in the landscape that regions start feeling homogenous. Also, you can only travel by clicking on a map symbol adjacent to where you are – making travel back to your home base at best, mundane; at worst, frustrating. The delay that I encountered in loading the page only added to the frustration. I imagine this would deter people from playing it through to completion.
Nonetheless, Icepunk is an interesting experiment in exploration in IF, one which gives a different meaning to ‘datamining’, even if it was let down by tedium.