The player begins the game by creating an adventuring party, which becomes enlisted as a caravan guard in the wake of strange events. As the story progresses, the player learns of a demonic feud that threatens the Ten Towns of Icewind Dale.
Icewind Dale was released to positive reviews, with critics praising the game's musical score and gameplay, the latter being compared to Diablo. The game received criticism for its similarities to previous Infinity Engine games. An expansion to the game, Icewind Dale: Heart of Winter, was released in 2001. A free expansion called Trials of the Luremaster was also released by the publishers, though it requires the Heart of Winter expansion pack to play.
The PC game does not follow the events of R. A. Salvatore's the Icewind Dale Trilogy novels—characters such as Drizzt Do'Urden, Bruenor Battlehammer, and others make no appearance in the game which takes place in a different century.