It is inarguably a good time for 2D platformer fans, utterly those who prefer the Metroid and Symphony of the Night-inspired variety. Steamworld Dig 2, Dead Cells, Sundered, and many some-more all bring something opposite to the lax genre’s table. So, too, does the recently expelled Iconoclasts, even yet I’m not certain I’m picking up positively every tinge it’s putting down.
None of that doubt relates to the game’s demeanour and feel, though. Iconoclasts is set in a lovely, colorful dystopia, with fluent sprites and egotistic effects to match. Traversing the splashy jungles, caves, seascapes, and sci-fi fortresses feels just right, too—no pixel feels wasted; no burst or attack too unwieldy. There’s a clarity of prudent technical soundness to Iconoclasts that likely reflects its 10-year prolongation by solo developer Joakim “konjak” Sandberg.
As Robin, the unlawful automechanic player-character, you start with just a wrench and a rapid-fire jolt gun, but slowly, inevitably, you accumulate new collection like bombs and an electric exaggerate for m�lange attacks. These clear new areas and upgrades in the excellent Metroid/Castlevania style, yet the find-items-to-progress judgment is stretched a bit thinner here than in, say, last year’s Metroid: Samus Returns. New apparatus is few and distant between, and whole multi-hour zones core some-more or reduction on a singular item.
So while the diversion is positively structured around anticipating new equipment to try formerly visited areas, there’s larger respirating room for things like a far-reaching preference of bosses and a heaping assisting of story.
The biggest, bestest battles
Iconoclasts’ 20-odd bosses are the genuine provide at the heart of the peculiarity run-and-gun gameplay, unchanging the showy art and large feel of the fight nicely. My personal favorite battle was against a multistage, subterraneous train. The fight had me juking its lunging attacks at high speed while being dragged around the round locus on grub rails. Getting by was a matter of exposing and ripping down the train’s diseased points with the help of an support character, one of many that pops up to help with the biggest bad guys. Beating many of the game’s bosses involves getting into the stroke of bouncing between those assistants’ skills and Robin’s, and that back-and-forth yank could simply be the basement for an whole detached diversion on its own. It’s just that fun.
There are a handful of technical quirks that disease the game’s differently well-spoken flow, though. The aforementioned rail-riding, for instance, requires Robin to fasten onto specifically noted points with her wrench. But Iconoclasts is very picky about the angle of her swing. Sometimes you’ll watch her selected arms pitch right by the fasten point, but actually making contact, given the diversion wants you to hit it ideally horizontally.
This, and a couple of close crate-stacking puzzles, competence feel like rather tiny pieces to nitpick in such a discriminating altogether package. But given the whole diversion is built around just a handful of abilities, those tiny issues build up to legitimate gripes. If there were some-more upgrades and nonplus forms to enjoy between the heavier movement scenes, there would be reduction possibility to really concentration on these few technical imperfections.
A blank pillar
Less quibbling, and some-more undisguised damning, is the story. There’s a lot some-more of it than the retro cultured would imply, and it’s not the easiest thing to follow. That’s in partial because, loyal to its name, Iconoclasts wades in the difficult waters of sacrament and rebellion. Robin’s unapproved function as a automechanic sounds harmless on its own, but it’s an offense punishable by death in her world. A mean theocracy, under the ride of a christ called Mother, is prohibited on her heels via the game.
Complication after snarl follows that sincerely simple premise. There’s dispute over a declining fuel source, a cadre of semi-immortal super-humans, pirates, space travel, healthy disasters, patrimonial drama, ideological debate, and more. With adequate technique and the correct pacing, these manifold elements competence have come together nicely. In Iconoclasts, they’re a accumulation of half-formed opinions—a stream of alertness loosely tied together by overly apparent metaphors for real-world issues.
Maybe if Iconoclasts just seized on one or two of these motifs with the same prudent concentration as the rest of the game, it could have given them the time and courtesy to give them weight. Instead it’s just confusing. Some dry, infrequently pretentious discourse does not help matters, either—every fifth line feels like it was inexpertly localized into English (which may indeed be the case, as Sandberg is formed in Sweden).
Unlike my teenager technical carps, these aren’t removed issues. This is a very garrulous diversion with not much to actually say. So its mélange of hard-to-parse messages is harder to disremember than a couple of close box puzzles. Which is a shame, given a dense, character-heavy tract is what should set Iconoclasts detached from its new competition.
Dead Cells looks and plays just as good as Iconoclasts, in its own way. Steamworld Dig 2 has some-more to learn and a lot some-more charm. Search for “Metroidvania” on Steam right now and you’ll find half a hundred some-more games with identical arguments in their favor.
That’s not to contend Iconoclasts is bad. The splendidly well-tuned bosses alone competence be worth your while. But in a now swarming pantheon of exploration-heavy 2D platformers, Iconoclasts is one that doesn’t fire on every cylinder. That alone competence be an forgive to check out your other options.
- A clean colorful dystopia to explore.
- (Mostly) pitch-perfect fight and platforming.
- Big, egotistic bosses with a lot of fun moving parts.
- Lots of clunky, confused story but a unchanging tone.
- Dry and pretentious dialogue.
- A handful of close puzzles.
- Not much accumulation among upgrades.
- I can’t confirm if we determine with the game’s politics, given we can’t utterly tell what they are by the disorderly writing.
Verdict: If you’ve already burned by your raise of Metroid-likes, Iconoclasts is plain fuel for the fire. Try it.