Wednesday, January 31, 2018

No Iconoclasts spoilers (yet)

I cannot fully discuss my feelings on Iconoclasts without spoiling the shit out of it and the game has not been out long enough for that. I may be an amatuer internet asshole but even I have limits. Generally speaking, the turns and twists of the plot never iron themselves out into a cohesive, satisfying conclusion but there are a number of incredible moments, some involving characters, a boss fight and a surprisingly sickening image, that will not soon be forgotten.

A generally bright colored homage to 16-bit graphics should not be able turn one's stomach, but it happened. It worked because the game teased something, alluded to it in discussions and notes, so when Robin descends a ladder and finds, well, that, the player is both saddened and repulsed. And this isn't even the best/worst one. There is a decision involving a door, an unconscious character and a swiftly descending timer that is certainly something.

Iconoclasts does a lot with limited graphical prowess. Robin is a silent protagonist but her mood is always clear. Elro's labored shuffle indicates more than just his recent injury. And Agent Black constantly rubbing her temples... Again, I cannot elaborate. Agent Black is an excellent tragic villain. Her confrontation is up there with the end of Contra IV, a comparison that I do not make lightly. Not in difficulty, mind you. Iconoclast's difficulty only rises above middling once. It was an epic fight, one that generated empathy for the enemy.

Unfortunately for Iconoclasts it lives next door to Guacamelee and Ori and the Blind Forest, games whose mechanics evolved for their entire run times. Robin never gets more then her wrench and a few guns, none of which are very exciting. Equipping tweaks would be more interesting if they did more than make her run a little faster or spin her wrench longer. What you do and how you do it never changes.

Dust: An Elysian Tale, another one man game, lives one block over, proving that a small (or singular) dev team is no excuse for boring combat. I don't want to be too harsh on Iconoclasts but what I was seeing was almost always more interesting than what I was doing. Not a good look for a videogame. Yes, the control was tight enough and the tools that were there were useful, but the game needed more game to bring everything else into balance.

Iconoclasts is a head trip wrapped up in a cute package. You hands will be bored but your mind will not, assuming you play long enough to get to the good stuff. Spoilers in a week or two. :P

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