Iconoclasts (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Az Elias 12.08.2018

Review for Iconoclasts on Nintendo Switch

A project eight years in the making, Joakim Sandberg's Iconoclasts bore its fruits earlier this year to critical acclaim. Whilst striking in its gloriously sprite-based visual presentation, this 2D action adventure showcases the skill and imagination of its developer in a facet of other areas on top, including its gripping storyline and clever puzzles. Nintendo Switch owners can now join Robin, giant wrench in hand, on her fascinating quest.

Iconoclasts quite obviously draws inspiration from the ever-growing Metroidvania genre, but sets itself apart by venturing down a path that many similar games don't often traverse. Story and characters play a key role in the appeal of this thought-provoking adventure, whereby numerous subjects and ideals are tackled and questioned in a world where humans have all but destroyed their own planet through the mining of resources. Important and debatable topics are presented in the form of religion, morality, purpose, and kindness, intertwined in and amongst what is a fantastical universe featuring magic and superhumans.

Screenshot for Iconoclasts on Nintendo Switch

In order to ensure this progresses as a story-driven game, the focus on exploration that is so ingrained into the Metroidvania style isn't a dominant factor. Areas are generally small- or medium-sized, rather than sprawling and overwhelming open-ended regions of map that can be easy to get lost in. Losing your way isn't really going to happen here. Sure, there are branching paths that allow Robin to mooch around in, but she is eventually led to the singular point that spurs the plot along rather naturally, without things feeling too linear.

When the story is so engaging and charming from the off-set, growing into an engrossing and serious narrative that evolves its characters, it is unlikely players will be pining for more freedom in the adventuring stakes. That isn't to say Iconoclasts is light on the traditional formula, however. For those that want it, secrets and hidden paths are carefully tucked away, and only the meticulous will be able to snuff everything out. It might surprise you just how much you missed when you see your completion score at the end - proof that the Metroidvania is definitely in there.

Screenshot for Iconoclasts on Nintendo Switch

The kind-hearted Robin treks through a variety of beautiful and vibrant locations, and the more focused level sizes contribute to enhancing the intimate designs. Each area has a place in the narrative, and isn't just a means of offering diversity in the aesthetical stakes. Nearly every screen is memorable enough not to wonder where on earth you are, yet the map offers a handy hint or two should the worst come to the worst.

Equipped with her trusty stun gun and wrench, Robin is more than capable of handling the dangers of the world's creatures, chasms, and puzzles. Whilst enemies don't overpopulate screens and are generally simple to overcome to keep the action flowing, the core of the combat element is in the exciting boss battles, of which there are over twenty. Putting to use both Robin's gun and wrench abilities, and sometimes even with the help of an AI partner, bosses provide a large degree of the challenge in Iconoclasts, but strike a fine balance between easy and frustrating. Some will take a few goes to bring to their knees, learning their moves and weaknesses, but a handful may prove to be less demanding than expected, and taking hits on the chin whilst blasting away can be enough to put the odd one or two to bed.

Rarely are any two bosses the same - both in looks and how the battles play out - and it is this element that makes these encounters some of the most fun and rewarding moments in the game. Should fights prove just a little too tough, however, being able to change the difficulty setting at each file load-up is a blessing, with the Relaxed Mode allowing Robin to smash baddies to bits with no fear of losing.

Screenshot for Iconoclasts on Nintendo Switch

Iconoclasts isn't light on its puzzle content, either. That oversized wrench isn't just for show, as Robin uses it to activate switches, turn cogs, electrify amplifiers, swing from grapple points, and perform a whole lot more. There are a few tricky sections that get the noggin thinking, sometimes requiring a little backtracking and searching around multiple floors to figure out, but for the most part, things are pretty reasonable. It tends to be in the optional paths for hidden items that puzzles show their true splendour, but the main path does pose its cheeky conundrums, too.

There is little to feel aggrieved about with this non-stop and excellently paced side-scroller. Some other power-ups and gun add-ons might have been cool, but the final array of options does keep things grounded without overcomplicating gameplay with its straightforward customisation system.

Could Iconoclasts stood to have delved more into its evidently rich lore? Probably, but there is much left open to interpretation to allow fan discussions and theories to take place, whilst subtle hints may provide the answers in other areas if eager beavers look and study hard enough. What is here in the storytelling is enough to keep any player enthralled from start to finish, as just about every single character has their own story, and grows and matures in respectable and pleasing ways around the silent mechanic Robin, whose actions speak louder than words.

Screenshot for Iconoclasts on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

9/10
Rated 9 out of 10

Exceptional - Gold Award

Rated 9 out of 10

If you have ever been turned off Metroidvanias for their tendency to prove too confusing or challenging, or pined for a larger focus on plot, Iconoclasts is the answer. By relegating the heavy exploration side of the popular genre in favour of driving a captivating narrative and characters to the forefront, Joakim Sandberg has crafted a 2D adventure that comes out as one of the most entertaining of the year, and certainly in the genre as a whole. Don't sleep on this.

Developer

Joakim Sandberg

Publisher

Bifrost Entertainment

Genre

2D Platformer

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

There are no replies to this review yet. Why not be the first?

Comment on this article

You can comment as a guest or join the Cubed3 community below: Sign Up for Free Account Login

Preview PostPreview Post Your Name:
Validate your comment
  Enter the letters in the image to validate your comment.
Submit Post

Subscribe to this topic Subscribe to this topic

If you are a registered member and logged in, you can also subscribe to topics by email.
K-Pop Korner - The Best of Korean Music
Sign up today for blogs, games collections, reader reviews and much more
Site Feed
Who's Online?
Azuardo

There are 1 members online at the moment.