|System: PS4, PC, PS Vita|
|Dev: Joakim "Konjak" Sandberg|
|Pub: Bifrost Entertainment|
|Release: January 23, 2018|
|Players: 1 Player|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Blood, Violence, Mild Language|
by Jenni Lada
Joakim “Konjak” Sanberg knows what he’s doing when it comes to indie action games. After all, Noitu Love and Noitu Love 2: Devolution have a legion of admirers and have appeared on multiple platforms. It is an understatement to say people have been waiting and expecting great things from Iconoclasts, the Metroidvania Sanberg has been working on since 2010. It is definitely worth the wait, as this lovely title gives people a vibrant world filled with puzzles and places you’ll want to head back to after acquiring the appropriate upgrades.
Iconoclasts’ star is a young woman named Robin. She is a mechanic, which seems like a rather ordinary profession to us. However, in her world this job carries a bit more weight. “Mother” rules over everything, with the One Concern government enforcing her will. And her will says that only licensed mechanics can use the ivory power source to fix and run machines. People who defy her laws and will are sinners who will bring Penance down upon themselves. However, licensed mechanics’ services are ridiculously expensive. When Robin is caught by One Concern for using her father’s wrench to help people, her fight against Mother and her agents begins.
What I really love about this setup is how it adds more weight to the Iconoclasts experience. I am more accustomed to Metroidvanias that absolutely have a sense of purpose, but don’t continually follow up with additional party members who aid your character and a story that keeps coming up. With its bright cast brimming with personality, I almost felt like Iconoclasts was the sort of game where you would expect there to be an anime based upon it. There is a really strong story to tell here. While Robin herself is a silent protagonist, everyone around her is quite talkative. There are very defined personalities which shine through even after initial conversations, which is very much appreciated.
One of my favorite examples of how this works is when Robin meets Mina, the Pirate. Both have been locked up by One Concern. What follows is a story-heavy segment where you need to sneak out of the building, making sure you pay attention to the enemies below before moving. It is a cleverly handled stealth section in a game where you wouldn’t expect it, and it really helps set the stage for Iconoclasts, as well as help establish some generic enemies’ personalities and the characters’ ability to get through any situation.
Once you are free to head out into Iconoclasts’ world, you start with the basics. Robin has a gun she can use for ranged attacks. As a nice accommodation, it will automatically lock onto nearby enemies, so you can automatically begin firing on them. Though, it is also possible to aim it yourself. She also has a close range melee attack in the form of the wrench, which can be used to attack enemies. She has a standard jump, can crawl under small gaps, and can use the wrench to handle switches, rappel around areas, and turn gears. As you proceed, you eventually learn to basically zipline around spaces, enjoy higher jumps, and use the wrench in new ways to get around areas.
The level design and layout in Iconoclasts is really quite splendid. There is a flow to things. When I would head into an area, it was often rather clear what needed to be done and how I would have to get there, even if there would be multiple steps and switches to go through as I made my way through the space. It also wasn’t uncommon to head to an area and see a place that I definitely wouldn’t be able to reach immediately, but could return to after a bit more time spent exploring and earning upgrades. You also come across locks that bar you from using your wrench on triggers and require you to use your head to find the key needed to unlock access to a new area. You can really see how things all tie together.