Iconoclasts: Progress Log #1

I don’t pay much attention to the development of games before they’re released, but I’ve seen numerous references to Iconoclasts that suggest that it’s taken a long time to be finished. Or something to that effect; the reason I don’t pay attention to that stuff is that I legitimately don’t care about anything but the end product, so I never bothered looking into the details. Really, all I knew going in was that it looked like a cheery pixel art game similar to some other stuff I’ve liked in the past. It was a bit of a shock to find out that this is a game that double-fists oppressive religion and oppressive government themes like they’re going out of style, then, and the mechanics aren’t quite as solid as I’d hoped. Still, right now I’m finding it decent, and who knows? Maybe it eventually turns into an incredible experience. At the moment, though, there are a whole lot of heavy-handed cutscenes filled with terminology that’s dumped on you all at once, and outside of that you just kind of wander around defeating enemies while looking for the next thing to push the story forward.

I like the early shooting mechanics

Main character Robin starts off with a stun gun that effectively works as a normal gun. You can either mash the shoot button to do a lot of quick damage, or hold the shoot button to charge up a more powerful shot, and figuring out which is most useful in a situation gives shooting slightly more depth than it’d have otherwise. Normal shots automatically lock on to nearby enemies to make aiming a bit easier.

The charge shot knocks Robin back a bit, too, which can be used to extend her jump height slightly. Not quite enough to allow for any kind of emergent, sequence-breaking gameplay, but it can occasionally speed things up regardless.

The minigames are kind of dumb

The minigames here kind of remind me of the ones you occasionally get in Shantae games, but I’ve already gone through two of them in the opening hours, and the weird juxtaposition of religious/governmental oppression and humor makes sequences like this feel out of place to begin with. They’re not terrible (though they can occasionally be communicated strangely, such as when you’re sneaking through a duct and have to wait for noise to creep further in, but the game never tells you that the enemy conversations aren’t loud enough to qualify as that noise despite the game being text-only and you having no real way of knowing that), but I do hope that they ease up; too many minigames can quickly start to come across as gimmicky.

Various imperfections

I already found a typo, of course. That’s not surprising how much text there is (there’s lots and lots of dialogue that doesn’t really serve a purpose apart from desperately trying to convey quirkiness), but I still feel the need to point it out.

This quintessentially indie “feature” where certain audio is panned left when the character is on the left side of the area and right when they’re on the right is 100% annoying and needs to die an incredibly painful, lengthy death. With lots of fire.

I can’t get a handle on reliably throwing things specific distances. If you’re moving and throw, the block goes far. If you’re still and throw, it plops down right in front of Robin. Complicating this is the fact that Iconoclasts’ controller setup doesn’t have an adequate dead zone, leading to moments where you think you’re standing still but the stick is registering just enough input to cause a bigger throw. This isn’t the only case where the practically nonexistent dead zone is an issue, either.

The main thing you do in Iconoclasts (early on, at least) is use a wrench on various bolts. This is kinda sorta vaguely puzzle-ish, but again, it’s early and things might become brilliant later on. The issue with screwing things in is that the lack of a dead zone frequently causes Robin to cancel out of it, which looks like the game telling you that you’ve moved it as far as it can go. Needless to say, this can become a bit of an issue at times, and I’ve taken to using nothing but the control pad (the awful one on Xbox 360 controllers) whenever a bolt needs to be interacted with. Meh.

[Click here to go to Iconoclasts log #2]

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