Picture, if you will, Ratchet & Clank as a 2D sidescroller with Metroidvania-ish design and RPG crafting elements. Oh, and exploring a world where God seemingly hates people with hobbies. That a rough approximation of Iconoclasts, which released today for PlayStation 4, Vita, PC, and Mac. This isn’t a review but rather, as the title suggests, my initial thoughts on it.
I’m about an hour into it and I’m digging what I’ve played. The star is a woman named Robin who illegally wields a big ol’ wrench that she uses to repair her village. I say “illegally” because Iconoclasts’ lore centers around a religion where citizens are assigned jobs based the whims of God and its church. Those who perform jobs without being designated for it, even if they’re good at it, are considered heretics and punished with divine calamities. However, the governing body that uphold’s the laws of this belief appears to have some sinister undertones. Mechanics are vital to society because, well, they fix everything. Robin is not a chosen mechanic but refuses to allow her village to fall into disrepair, making her a target of the powers that be. It’s a creative idea for a fiction that makes the world feel fully realized in a way you don’t often see with these types of games.
Like Ratchet, Robin’s wrench makes for an unintentionally great melee weapon. She can also parry attacks to stun enemies into vulnerable states, a satisfying maneuver to perform. Outside of combat, Robin twists big screws to open doors and swings on them to reach higher platforms. Other actions involving the wrench have been teased but I’m liking the things I’ve done so far.
Robin also wields a stun gun for some ranged firepower. It features an auto-aim that instantly targets enemies close to her. This threw me off in the early portion as you’re still able to freely aim in four directions and I couldn’t understand why Robin would suddenly fire diagonally. Once I realized she could target foes on her own, I had to fight the urge to manually aim and just let her take over. I was iffy on this mechanic at first but I think I’m coming around on it.
The first boss I encountered, a robot mech, was an entertaining and unique affair. Accompanied by an A.I companion, our tag-team effort impressed me due to the CPU’s implementation. A crucial part of the battle involved turning a screw on the boss’s arm to hold it in place long enough for my partner to hone in with a shotgun blast to its weak point. I rarely see A.I. partnerships like this in 2D sidescrollers and it worked very well here.
Despite only being an hour in there’s been nice variety in gameplay outside of shooting and platforming. One segment had me sneaking across the roof of a bar, using the timed laughter of the guards below to mask the sounds of my shuffling. Along the way Robin collects various parts used to craft buffs and other enhancements. That plays along with Robin’s Ms. Fix-It shtick and hunting treasure chests for parts has proven to be an addictive excursion thus far.
I reached the second major area before taking a break. During my time away, though, I kept thinking about getting back to Iconoclasts. There are some inventive ideas here and I can’t wait to see how the gameplay evolves. The backstory of the world offers unexpected intrigue and feels like it could have a lot of meat on it. My only complaint I can lob is at the music. The tracks I’ve heard have been serviceable but unremarkable. I’m sold on finishing the game and I’ll be posting a full review once that’s done. We’ll see if the quality remains consistent or takes a nosedive but right now, Iconoclasts is off to a strong start.