Iconoclasts was a long eight years in development. Creator Joakim Sandberg from Sweden starting work on the game in 2010. Thankfully publisher Bifrost Entertainment helped finish it up and gamers now have the chance to play it. Was it worth the wait?
Iconoclasts is a retro 2D side scroller “metroidvania” game at its core. Players control the heroin Robin and are thrown into a colorful yet dystopian world controlled by a religious authoritarian government called the One Concern. Here everything has a place and everyone has a job, but Robin wants to be a mechanic like her father. Well eventually this causes the powers that be to send out its goon squad to stop her from helping the villagers in this unauthorized manor. From here an adventure ensues that will charm anyone who played these sort of games in the 1990’s and was a fan of the fun story telling of classics like Final Fantasy 2 and 3 for SNES.
Iconoclasts looks incredible and it plays like most games of this type, as players go from area to area collecting items and power ups, defeating bosses and growing their arsonal and tools to allow progression to the next area and challenge. What makes Iconoclasts so special is this visually cute and colorful game has a very deep and engrossing story, along with some amazing character development that took tons of inspiration from the old Square Soft games in the SNES era. Characters are dealing with some serious issues, government and religious oppression, but with all kinds of cheesy comical dialog thrown in to keep it fun. For example, all of the One Concerns henchmen and troopers are goofy and stupid. This adds some levity, and instantly brought me back to Final Fantasy 3 and the same kind of interactions between Terra and The Empire. This formula kept Iconoclasts from getting too dark and moody, but still having some emotional teeth that will bite and shake the feels right out of you.
Gameplay in Iconoclasts is full of customization as the Tweak system allows Robin to collect crafting items and then build boosters with. These “Tweaks” can be used to then customize Robin to your prefered play style. Some may speed her up, others protect you from damage, ect. While not heavily relied upon, these do add some customization for particular boss fights or troublesome areas. Robin uses different weapons that all fire different effects and many are required for certain bosses and puzzles. They can be charged and I highly recommend you use that when fighting bosses as the damage output is greatly increased. She also carries her golden wrench, her melee weapon that is also a tool in many situations, but mainly it is her door opener. Boss fights in Iconoclasts epic and so much fun. Many require you to not only be fast but smart, figuring out the patterns but also solving puzzles mid fight. Iconoclasts has some of the best boss fights I have seen in a sea of games of this format over the last couple years.
Music in Iconoclasts is super catchy, another reminder of the old days at Square Soft. When your game is text based and as limited as it was back then, if it didn’t get a few catchy tunes, it could kill the game. Many of the songs in Iconoclasts would get stuck in my head for days, and not in a bad way!
Some younger players may be turned off by the deep story, but fans of the classic SNES RPG’s and metroidvania style games should love Iconoclasts. At about 14 hours to complete, it is well worth the time and challenging enough to keep you coming back. While the customization and hidden items will also keep you playing even after completing it. And what a great ending it was too! Iconoclasts is a must buy and on course to be my favorite indie game of the year. Pick it up and be in retro heaven like I was.