Iconoclasts Review: A Fun Time When You Skip the Story

by David Sanchez January 16, 2019 @ 8:31 am

Reviewed on PlayStation 4 and Vita

Note: Iconoclasts launched digitally in January 2018. This review is meant to coincide with the game’s physical disc release this month, but it is a review of the digital version of the game.

Iconoclasts is a very fun game… if you skip the story bits. It’s strange to me that I’m recommending a game with an asterisk attached, but in this case, you’re bound to get plenty of enjoyment out of your time with this title if you hit the skip button every time you enter a cut-scene or dialogue sequence. That’s because everything aside from these moments of inane plot are actually really, really cool. So should you play Iconoclasts? Yes or no? Yes, but only if you’re okay with skipping every single bit of story it has to offer.

The game follows Robin, a wrench-wielding rebel who’s quickly assigned the simple task of saving the world. Well, something to that extent. The thing about the story in Iconoclasts is that it’s not very interesting. Not only is it uninteresting, but it’s also told in a very mundane fashion, with NPCs rambling on and on for way too long and seemingly never shutting up.

Typically, it’s easy to separate story from gameplay, but because Iconoclasts makes it a point to break up the action with long-winded speeches and exhausting cut-scenes, the story literally gets in the way of your enjoyment. That said, the skip button is there, and I suggest you use it. Fast-forwarding the story may not be the way the game was intended to be played, but it’s the recommended way to play if you want to have fun.

It may sound like I didn’t enjoy my time with Iconoclasts, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. The fact is, yes, the story is bad, but moving through the game’s stages is highly entertaining. Iconoclasts features light Metroidvania elements. You’ve got a huge, interconnected map that requires you to backtrack when you obtain new items and abilities to unlock new paths, but the maps never feel overwhelmingly massive. Compared to something like Axiom Verge, the map here is a lot less intimidating.

Aside from the Metroidvania influence, Iconoclasts also borrows from old school action-platformers like Super Mario Bros. 2 and even Zelda 2. There’s plenty of combat to engage in with fodder enemies, but the boss fights are where it’s at. You’ll encounter enemies that take up about half a screen. As was the case in plenty of old school favorites, you’re going to need to find and exploit weak points in order to defeat these bosses. The battles themselves are never too daunting, even on the higher difficulty settings.

While combat is prominent throughout Iconoclasts, it’s also a very puzzle-y game, which is the main element that sets it apart from other Metroidvania titles. You’ll enter rooms where you’ll need to figure out exactly how to use a new ability to unlock a door, reach a high platform, or obtain a hidden key item. The puzzles, like the boss battles are never too tough, but they’re engaging and rewarding, and they flow so smoothly that they easily make up some of the best parts in the game.

Iconoclasts features nice, colorful pixel art. Environments all look really good, but the enemy and NPC designs leave a little bit to be desired. Character animations are fluid, fully taking advantage of modern tech, and are unlike anything you would’ve seen in the retro titles that Iconoclasts is inspired by.

Overall, the game’s soundtrack is solid, with some themes standing out more than others. Surprisingly, the tracks aren’t chiptune-heavy like you’d expect, which is kind of refreshing. The sound effects, however, do consist primarily of blips and bloops, so you get a nice mix of contemporary music and retro sounds.

If you had to sit through the story in Iconoclasts, I probably wouldn’t recommend playing it. Because you can skip all the fluff, though, I can’t help but to give the game a nice dose of praise and a hearty recommendation. The combat is pretty good, with the boss fights really standing out. The flow of the game, though, as well as the environment-based puzzles really make the game a worthwhile experience.

Score: 7.5 out of 10

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