Iconoclasts, from developer MP2 Games, is a Metroidvania that I had high hopes for and now that the Nintendo Switch version has just released, I think most of them were met. This is a vibrant 2D-pixelated world and the action is quick and fun. It might be easy to overlook Iconoclasts as just another rudimentary Metroidvania, but delving deeper into it will not only reveal outstanding gameplay depth, but a heart-felt narrative as well.
In Iconoclasts, you play as Robin who has a wrench and she surely knows how to use it. She is an illegal mechanic just trying to help out the public. The inciting incident happens when the authorities of the world finally catch up with her for doing mechanical work. You will be tasked with trying to escape and helping people along the way. Mostly you’re trying to get away from the One Concern (AKA the government), who sent out their agents to deliver penance to sinners.
The people have sucked the planet dry of ivory and now the planet is dying. The One Concern in particular have been using it to create super soldiers with ivory in their blood. The ivory in their blood gives them almost superhuman abilities to change the world or heal. Ivory is the sole power source in the world and in order to control everything the government gained an obsession with trying to harness it, becoming all controlling of everyone’s work and religion. After the last failed attempt by the government from being caught, Robin has had enough and ventures to not only get away, but become embroiled in a bigger conflict.
Iconoclasts is a fantastic looking game with an impressive level of detail on display, a prime example being the unique animations and sounds each character exhibits, similar to Owlboy. The presentation and catchy retro music elevates the personality of the world, making the game more captivating as a whole. However, judging Iconoclasts simply on the visuals undersells what’s buried under the surface.
The wrench is easily the best part of the title, which is great considering the whole game is centered around it and MP2 Games worked hard to make it the focus of the title. It has a variety of uses like swinging from platform to platform, solving puzzles, and opening locked doors. Iconoclasts is all about using the wrench in unique ways and it works incredibly well. It ends up being the binding that keeps the gameplay and story together, and is an integral part of Robin’s backstory and who her character is.
The wrench lets Robin get around the world in ways no one else can, but it’s also getting her into trouble since it’s illegal to perform mechanical work without a license in this world. There are wrench upgrades as you progress and they give you further access to the world. While you can use the wrench for attacking enemies, this isn’t its direct use. It can be used to stun certain enemies if they jump towards you, opening them up for a counterattack by using your gun.
You’ll be running through the whole world exploring many different areas. There really is a lot to explore and many interesting people to meet. You’ll see One Concern employees and normal citizens going about their day and this really fleshes out the story, especially in providing a rewarding Metroidvania experience with all the new and secret areas you can uncover. Each area is unique and I enjoyed investigating every nook and cranny. Keep in mind, there is some backtracking when new areas open up, but not enough to become an annoyance.
To help Robin accomplish her goal she has more than just her wrench, and these weapons were made for attacking. Among the new weapons you can find, the stun gun is great because it shoots fast and goes through walls. Some other guns allow you to shoot an explosive ball and another that shoots dual lasers. Any gun you have can fire a powerful shot by holding down the fire button. These guns are also essential in solving some of the puzzles throughout the world.
Another gameplay system is the ability to tweak or use crafting tweaks. Throughout Iconoclasts, there are boxes with crafting materials in them and then there are crafting tables that allow you to make these tweaks. These tweaks are a reward for taking the time to get the boxes since most of them are out of the way. They are worth finding because they grant you improved perks, such as running faster, hitting harder with the wrench, or holding your breath longer underwater. They are not required to find, but will make journeying through some of the harder areas more forgiving.
Further along in the story, Iconoclasts does force you to play as a different character named Mina. You would think this would be a nice change of pace, but unfortunately she was not as much fun to play as and has no wrench abilities. There’s even a switching mechanic so you can play as both characters, which just made things more complicated in the long run. Robin is definitely the better character and I wish some of my time wasn’t taken away from her.
Overall, Iconoclasts is yet again another wonderful Metroidvania on the Switch. It did not outstay its welcome and remained exciting throughout with clever boss battles, a beautifully detailed world to explore, and great gameplay. While the story was heartfelt, I was left wanting more from the ending and some of the design decisions did leave me puzzled. However, the main selling point of using the wrench to solve puzzles was implemented almost flawlessly and provided the title with originality not seen in other similar games.