BY DEVONTE GRIFFITHS
Platform: PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, Nintendo Switch, Microsoft Windows, Linux, Mac
Rating: T for Teen
As the process of developing games becomes more complicated, solo creators are becoming rarer in the industry. Iconoclasts, developed by Joakim Sandberg, showcases the charm that a single creator can imbue into their game while also showcasing how ambitious ideas can inadvertently spread them-selves thin.
The game centers on Robin, a young mechanic carrying on the profession of her dead father. She fights against a religious agency named The One Concern which forces people into having specific jobs. Anyone who attempts to leave their set job will be executed. As a mechanic, you go around town and fix people’s mundane issues while also stumbling into an ongoing conflict between The One Concern and the Isi, a secret rebel organization.
Due to its namesake, the game attempts to focus on individuals and their plight to stop organizations from controlling them.
However, it attempts to focus on too many subjects at once and never gives enough time to any individual story thread. The game is also encumbered with large chunks of dialogue that over explain the established concepts of the world. Despite all of this confusion, the characters are still genuinely charming. When the dialogue is less focused on delivering exposition, it gives concrete motivation and character depth to the numerous characters on display.
Another way in which characters show off their personality is through the game’s pleasing visuals. Designed to emulate the 32-bit era of games, the pixel art beautifully mixes modern animation techniques with a retro aesthetic.
The simplicity of the environments makes the world easy to navigate and allows for unique little details to be discovered when more abilities are obtained.
In terms of gameplay, Iconoclasts plays like a Metroidvania-lite. While there are numerous secret pathways and collectibles to receive, the rewards aren’t often power-ups or shortcuts for traversal. Instead, they are often chests that contain materials that can be crafted for temporary upgrades. Due to most of the upgrades not needing much materials, you’ll have so much surplus materials that you won’t really feel inclined to explore the environments anymore.
The game’s obvious highlight is its abundance of excellent boss fights. From the very beginning of the game to its final moments, the bosses never fail to entertain. The multiple phase changes every boss who goes through and continually provides an enticing back and forth as the player and boss learn each other’s patterns and adjust accordingly. As the game goes on, you’ll get to play as additional characters who have their own unique moves and bosses to en-counter. Even when the game’s story meanders, it’s easy to ignore that when you know a new boss is coming to give you an interesting challenge.
Iconoclasts is a game that is wholly inconsistent. While its characters and graphics are charming, the story that the characters are involved in doesn’t seem to know what to do with its multiple con-verging plot threads. The world has multiple hidden routes with treasure to find, but the treasure loses its value fairly early on with upgrades that only help in minor ways. If you want to play a small Metroidvania-esque platformer that lasts 10 hours with nice graphics, quirky characters, and crazy boss fights, you should buy this game. If you do, just be sure to skip most of the dialogue.