Finally, there's a game for all of us who never fulfilled our dreams of becoming a mechanic.
It's hard to believe that a game like Iconoclasts could be built almost entirely by one person. While it took Joakim Sandberg (who's also responsible for the excellent Noitu Love: Devolution) seven long years to craft the game, it's still a phenomenal accomplishment from a one person studio. Iconoclasts has you play as Robin, a young girl with incomparable mechanic abilities. However, she lives in a dystopian world where she's not allowed to practice her trade without the proper licensing and approvals. By simply performing mechanic tasks without certification, she is labeled as a Sinner and becomes a fugitive running from the powerful One Concern.
Robin is armed with her trusty wrench that serves as both a melee weapon and a tool to swing between ledges and activate switches. She also has a semi-powerful stun gun that can be used to damage enemies from further away. She'll need to use both as she faces One Concern soldiers as well as a variety of dangerous creatures strewn across the world. Along your journey, you'll run into plenty of NPCs who all have a story to tell. Robin's brother Elro and her pirate pal Mina play major roles in the narrative but there are a lot more NPCs who are also relevant. These NPCs may have a lot of emotion and character yet they often also have way too much to say.
I regularly found the NPC conversations to be way too verbose and at times, a bit pretentious. It doesn't help that the two main NPCs (Elro and Mina) come off as selfish, overly dramatic, and rather unlikable. While the plot and setting were initially intriguing to me, the overly long dialogue sequences between characters actually turned me off and took me out of the story. It also made the campaign longer than it needed to be. For example, my playthrough clocked in at over 13 hours.
All that being said, the world of Iconoclasts looks absolutely phenomenal. The detailed pixel art style makes the characters and locations pop and the wide variety of environments allow each area to feel unique and authentic. The hulking bosses are excellently crafted and possess a hefty set of attacks and serve as some of the most exciting sections of the game. When you're not fighting bosses, you'll spend a lot of time exploring the world, searching for secrets, and solving a surprising amount of puzzles which usually consist of large rooms with lots of moving parts, blocks, and platforms. Even certain levels (such as the forest tower) feel like one massive puzzle.
As you progress through the campaign, you'll unlock new gun types and abilities that make Robin more powerful as well as provide access to previously unreachable areas. As with most Metroidvania games, some backtracking is necessary. Fortunately, this is kept in check for the most part and when you revisit old areas, things have usually changed enough that it's worth exploring a second time. Fast travel is introduced at the exact right moment and it helps to further cut down on the required backtracking. Along with unlocking new key weapons, Robin's character progression comes in the form of tweaks that can be crafted using four core ingredients which are found hidden in chests across the world. These tweaks can improve Robin's speed, melee power, underwater breathing, and more.
Iconoclasts is an action-packed and gorgeous game that offers some great puzzles and exciting boss fights. An overly long script and some unlikable characters make the story less enjoyable but not enough to dampen Robin's robust and exciting adventure.
- + Intriguing setting with an impressive variety of great-looking environments
- + Fun and thought-provoking puzzles
- + Plenty of challenging and exciting bosses
- - Conversations between NPCs last far too long
- - Several unlikable main characters