Iconoclasts Review – Tried and True Formula (PS4)
Puzzle-platformers are one of my favorite genres of games, but there’s no denying that there’s a surplus of them at the moment. Being a simply good game isn’t always enough to stick out from the crowd when you’ve also got to compete with the likes of SteamWorld Dig 2, Axiom Verge, and INSIDE. We’ve gotten to the point where a game really has to differentiate itself with a defining characteristic, be it an art style or a mechanical twist. Iconoclasts doesn’t really have one selling point that makes it immediately stand out. That’s not to say it doesn’t make a good first impression, though, as the 2D pixel-art looks great and the wrench-wielding combat immediately feels satisfying. It just lacks that je nais se quois to really win anyone over.
The game follows an outlaw mechanic named Robin (who has a gun and wrench at her disposal) as she attempts to evade capture from the nasty cult that controls Iconoclast‘s world. There are some other characters that will join Robin’s party throughout the adventure (some of which will even join you in some battles and can be controlled a bit), but you’re mostly left using her wrench to solve any puzzles or combat scenarios you come across. That may seem a bit simple, but the tool ends up getting upgraded several times (it even gets an electric component, not unlike Teslagrad), so it’s not like her moveset is overly limited. In fact, the game does a great job of providing just enough abilities for the players for puzzles to never become overly dull, while also not overwhelming anyone with the sheer amount of mechanics.
These puzzles wind up being one of the strongest elements of the game as I found myself enjoying it more than the combat. I did find myself getting stumped on occasion, but it was just a matter of trial and error until I found what worked since she isn’t overly equipped with tools. Maybe it’s due to that limited design that the solutions lack that aha! moment that the best puzzles elicit, but they’re still a bright spot in a solid title.
There are some small things that hold Iconoclasts back from reaching its full potential. From mechanical annoyances like being unable to grab back onto a ladder once you jump off it to being unclear how to progress at times, there’s plenty of room for improvement that could make it a more enjoyable experience. Some of the enemy soldiers also don’t give out good indicators when they’re being damaged, which left me constantly throwing bombs at characters for longer than I normally would’ve. Sometimes they were defeated, sometimes they weren’t, so it was ultimately up to me to remember what type was vulnerable to which of my attacks.
More unfortunate is some of the level design, as some unenjoyable mainstays of platforming wind up showing their ugly head. I could’ve happily gone the rest of my life without playing a level that was largely pitch black to add difficulty, but that and Sonic-esque swimming sequences (where you have to monitor how much air you have) both pop up. These certainly add some challenge to the game, but it wasn’t all-together pleasant.
While there isn’t anything from a strictly gameplay sense that helps Iconoclasts stick out from all the other exploration heavy puzzle-platformers on PlayStation 4, it does feature a really intriguing world and story. I found the world itself to be the real star, as I constantly wanted to learn more about the strange society that worshipped a person called “Mother.” The story winds up including a bit of everything from sea pirates to magic users, and it’s quite the rollercoaster of events.
There’s a lot to like about Iconoclasts, but it unfortunately never makes the jump from good to great. Not only does it fall into some of the pitfalls that other platformers have exposed throughout the years, it also lacks any innovation that truly wows. That’s ultimately fine, as players are treated to a very polished puzzle-platformer with a surprisingly interesting story. Those who pick up the game will surely enjoy their time with it, but don’t be surprised if you’ve felt like you’ve played certain segments a dozen times before.
Iconoclasts review code provided by publisher. Version 1.04 reviewed on PlayStation 4 Pro. For more information on scoring, please read our Review Policy.