A lot of 2D action platformers these days are heavy on their Metroidvania and Roguelike inspirations. Very few of them have a compelling narrative to them. Fewer still are able to merge that strong narrative and tight gameplay into one excellent package. Welcome to Iconoclasts – a game that has been seven long years in the making, and the final product more than shows the work that has been put into making it.
You play as Robin, a mechanic without a licence in a world where machinery and technology are intertwined with magical forces revered in the hearts and minds of the common folk. Without her licence, Robin, becomes a target of the game’s central authoritarian powers, and she then sets out on a path that could shake the very foundation of the world. It’s a heavy plot that builds up slowly and delivers thoroughly. I started Iconoclasts expecting to talk primarily about the game’s fantastic mechanics, but the story here is incredibly affecting and personal, and I was genuinely moved. That’s a big feat for a game that can essentially be boiled down to being a 2D action platformer.
You meet interesting characters along your journey, and many of them have their own story arcs. While the overarching adventure is grand and well told, the smaller moments are also given equal weight.
With her wrench and gun in hand, Robin sets out to do right by those she cares for. While the tools at her disposal are fairly simple, they are put to great use. As you go across well designed levels and take down enemies you will get upgrades that change up the gameplay in small yet noticeable ways. The beauty of this system is that, the combat and exploration never becomes stale, despite the lack of a ‘loot system’.
The levels are varied, and the pixel art is gorgeous. The combat is fast and controls incredibly well. There’s a fair amount of enemy variety, and the boss fights are an absolute blast. I was always looking forward to what Iconoclasts would throw at me next, and I was always impressed. There are puzzles that make good use of everything at your disposal, and need a fair amount of brain work. They are satisfying to solve and never felt contrived or repetitive.
Even with so many games in the same genre, there aren’t a lot of games like Iconoclasts. There’s a lot of heart to this game, and it’s really sticks with you even after you beat it. Iconoclasts is one of the first games I beat in 2018, and it’s already looking like one of the best.