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Iconoclasts

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Mar 8, 2018 at 7:57 PM
Just some person
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Join Date: Dec 30, 2005
Location: Germany
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Age: 27
#1
I just can't believe there isn't a thread about this yet. Iconoclasts is a platformer with Metroidvania elements. It has exploration elements and you aquire more weapons and skills later in the game.
The guy who made Noitu Love (Konjak) worked about 10 years on the game, recently it was released on various platforms:
https://www.gog.com/game/iconoclasts
http://store.steampowered.com/app/393520/Iconoclasts/

Just take a look at this boss fight:

Can you even look at it without thinking it how fun it would be to play it?

The art and the music in this game are absolutely superb and the gameplay mechanics are very fun and interesting. The level design is an excellent mixture of linear and non-linear gameplay. And don't get me started on the story, the whole world is kinda eccentric in this game. Very creative. I don't want spoil anything but let me say that the game definitely has it's dark and sick moments, that will most likely mindfuck you. It made me go "WTF, I didn't expected that" a few times. Also it feels a bit like a emotional roller coaster as well at times, especially the second half of the game. The only negative point I could have found so far is that you can't always play it intuitively when it comes to certain bosses or puzzles, this becomes worse as the game progresses, this only happens rarely in the first few hours though.

I recommend this game heavily though and it's pretty lengthy as well, I needed more than 13 hours to complete it.
 
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Mar 8, 2018 at 10:06 PM
In my body, in my head
Forum Moderator
"Life begins and ends with Nu."
Join Date: Aug 28, 2009
Location: The Purple Zone
Posts: 6001
#2
there's actually 2 threads already but, this one is fine too

I had fun with it, konjak knocking it out of the park on presentation as usual. The story I enjoyed (including the ambiguous elements) and the gameplay was solid fun.
 
Mar 8, 2018 at 10:22 PM
gigantic immortal dog...?
"That dog!"
Join Date: Apr 18, 2006
Location: Forever wandering the tower...!
Posts: 1696
#3
Hey SP, it was mentioned in the profile feed too but good to see it have a recent thread.

Anyway, here was my attempt at a review:
http://steamcommunity.com/id/x-calibar/recommended/393520

Spoiler: Loved it.

Steam says I played it for 94 hours... replayed it several times trying to uncover secrets. It's good.
Doesn't quite play like Cave Story. Combat isn't really the focus except for the nice bosses.

Well, combat *is* there; its just more conducive to speed running and overcoming puzzles than showing off your platforming skills.
Iconoclasts will keep you on your toes though, not much forced repetition, so each challenge will be a new spin on your developed skills so far. IMO the best part was the story though. If you can really get into the setting, you'll probably be blown away at the details you can piece together. Reminded me of putting together Cave Story theories x)

Love finding finding games like this. One guy developed it over 7+ years. Blows me away when I hear that.
 
Mar 8, 2018 at 11:53 PM
Professional Whatever
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Posts: 4494
#4
its good
 
Mar 10, 2018 at 10:31 AM
Lvl 1
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#5
Oh boy, I've been waiting for an opportunity to talk about this game. This was one of my most anticipated titles this year, since I played one of the demos konjak released like 5 or so years ago. But did it live up to expectations?

Well...

The best things this game has to offer is its art and its gameplay. Konjak is just an amazing sprite artist, and the game is just full of life with its animations and effects. And the gameplay is very solid for the most part, although it was a bit more of a puzzle-platformer than I originally expected it to be. The boss fights are also just great, I remember reading somewhere before that bosses are konjak's favorite parts of video games, and it shows again in Iconoclasts, just like in Noitu Love 2. Big brilliant bouts of action, but often they feel more "puzzley" than making you build on skills previously learned, less about reaction time and more just about figuring the boss out.

In terms of gameplay however, exploration isn't super fun all the time, not because the layouts aren't fun but because your rewards for exploring areas aren't very rewarding. Basically, tweaks just suck, and once you find 3 you like you really have no reason to look for more crafting supplies besides for completion's sake. Given that these are the only optional upgrades in the game, besides the main items you get as you progress through the story there isn't much of a sense of progression in terms of building your character. That by itself isn't terrible, but for it to be replaced with tweaks is kind of lame.

The music though, this is my 2nd least favorite aspect of the game. It's never terrible, in fact there's a couple of tracks that are pretty good (tracks that stand out to me are Chile, Blessed Creations, and Moonlight). But the title screen music stands out as being a really strange unpleasant mess of melodies, which put me off a few times as I was starting the game. Otherwise I wouldn't say the soundtrack is very memorable, but still fitting for the moments where it plays. Just kind of makes me wish Konjak didn't try to do it all on his own sometimes.

And the story, this is definitely what kind of kills the game for me. I feel like I have to separate this into 2 parts, to better get at what bothers me about it. The world building is the good part, there's a very detailed and interesting world in this game and it's fun to learn more about it as you go on, for the most part. As X-Calibar said, looking back on it is a bit like putting together theories for Cave Story was. But the plot itself, this is where the game fails for me. I found myself at the end of the game both a bit confused and also just uncaring about the conclusion of the game, and was mostly playing just to finish it and see if the ending could somehow redeem the story (spoilers: it didn't).
It all comes down to Robin, really. It's not that she couldn't be an interesting character, it's just that this story's about her for no reason other than the fact that she's just there. The other characters have motivations, personality, and maybe even a bit of resolution for their problems, but Robin doesn't have any of this. She goes back to sleep at the end of the game pretty much exactly the same as she was in the beginning. The game tries to compensate for this by giving her those flashbacks with her father, but these only revealed more about her past and had little to no effect on the actual story that was unfolding in the game. Robin just seems to be doing things because she's in the right place at the right time. So when you get to the end and beat the star worm, it doesn't feel like anything important has really happened since there's no impact on Robin. She just kills it because she wants to, or because you wanted to. And how the ending tries to paint it as suddenly a happy ending with all the round plants sprouting out of the planet now felt very odd. Why was this a good thing? It didn't seem right for the game to be celebrating it, for all we knew those plants taking over the planet could be a very bad thing if they started sucking out the Ivory from the planet. In fact the game seemed to try to not clearly paint the star worm as an evil entity at all necessarily, but it readily celebrates its death with congratulatory music once it's all said and done. It didn't feel satisfying. And the "surprise" final boss, that part bothered me a lot. It's not that I don't like twists in my stories, but there was very little if anything leading up to it or even hinting at it. A good twist is one where you can look back on the rest of the story and see little bits that were hinting at it all along, but this one just feels like a surprise for the sake of being a surprise. It felt unnecessary and just further added to the confusion that was this game's ending. I could write more but I feel this is getting a bit ramble-ish now.

So yeah, I have a hard time whole heartedly recommending this game to anyone, but mostly due to the story. I'd be less harsh about it if it weren't such a central focus of the game, but it's not really something you can just ignore and enjoy the rest of the game without. It was still a pretty fun game overall though.
 
Mar 10, 2018 at 11:04 PM
gigantic immortal dog...?
"That dog!"
Join Date: Apr 18, 2006
Location: Forever wandering the tower...!
Posts: 1696
#6
@GIRakaCHEEZER

I agree about the tweaks. Lacking a critical purpose for the most part (besides breathless), but even worse, the tweaks break if you are damaged. So, if this is your first time playing you'll probably take damage and it'll become more of a chore to try to repair tweaks and not feel their slight benefits.
And on future runs, you learn you don't even need tweaks. So that kind of eliminates most of the reason of exploring. The early prototypes of this game had more complex upgrades... The final form is better for speedrunning.

On the music... I think it grows on you :p I mean I really didn't like Cave Story's main theme song at first. But, now it sticks with me. To each their own though~

About the spoilers...
Re-reading some of my Steam posts, here are some things I wrote:
@Robin and Royal
"Originally posted by Mopati:
Robin is the kind of girl that want to help everyone, Royal included : she grieves him, after all..."

"Originally posted by X-Calibar:
Up until this point, most mechanical problems are easily solved by Robin in the form of a giant point of interest that her giant wrench solves. Or a vent, or something. So it does seem odd to be forced into using Royal like a Crate to solve a puzzle. Konjak likely wanted to make a point, and leave it silent so that the player would come to terms with the situation in their own way.

There's also the unlikely possibility that there actually is a way to save him and it is a test of character (obtuse as it would have to be).

Then again, looking back on Robin's actions, I wonder if Robin is so altruistic.

Iconoclast -
1. a person who attacks cherished beliefs or institutions.
2. a destroyer of images used in religious worship, in particular.

From what I remember, Royal was not an iconoclast until meeting Robin. He simply was shunned for being the "royal" lucky brat who knew nothing but faith because he was kept in the dark. He did nothing to hurt others as far as I know, just rebel and run away like a teen with no friends. (Even growing flowers when you meet him...)

What if Robin is more goal oriented then we thought? Did you decide to break the Mother statues at every turn? Didn't Robin leap into a newly penanced house at the start of the game with no explained reason? Didn't her father die as a mechanic and leave behind a legacy which Robin chose to follow? Didn't Elro as well have a deep rooted anger towards the organization? Maybe Robin wanted to strike back as well? Perhaps her father left more than just a wrench? Writings...?

So perhaps Robin's actions while one aspect, naive, kind, and immensely lucky, were another determined and cunning. No mention to Mina about what she saw with the transcend machines, yet she dove right into that sea of dead without a single noticeable change in behavior. Also, Royal didn't hurt Gatekeeper Pete when he stood in his way, but Robin was willing to send him flying. Later, Robin didn't ask for help from any of her friends in the Bastion. And in the tower, apparently there was a key close to the cells... did she avoid setting them free immediately on purpose? She doesn't even try to reason with the Starworm as even Royal attempted. (far as we know, she simply hit the beast after a short exchange.)

Was there a deep resolve in being an Iconoclast? At tearing down the oppressive religion and what created it regardless of consequence? Was Royal left behind because he became a burden? Even if she regretted her actions later? You'll have to think back to her actions and decide for yourself. With few words ever spoken, or dreamt, I guess it's up to the player to decide just who Robin is. Selfless? Or Selfish...

"Originally posted by X-Calibar:
Here's my theory, painting the Starworm as less a friend:

Once upon a time, the world had no planet spines and did not constantly change shape and appearence as it does today. (as according to Precedes (mentioned by Myron in-game) and research from the Ark (One Concern computers)).

Eventually though the planet broke apart, just like the moon. (Mentioned in a One Concern PC) And now it seems as if the planet spines and Ivory are like liquid glue keeping the world together. But, the more that is drained the less stable the world becomes likely resulting in the increasing quakes.

Ivory not only holds matter together at a sub-microscopic level, but acts a body for the Eyes to control. (As called in a researcher computer in the dark caves, and Ivory property referenced in a One Concern PC). The Ivory is also used as fuel for all of humanities present-day machines.

I'm assuming humanity arrived on those Ark ships. If so, the Seeds found in the Isi Ark ship which work on anything that is made from Ivory *could imply* that it was brought with them. And if the Seeds were created to work on Ivory, then perhaps humanity also created the Ivory present on the planet.

Under this theory, I imagine humanity sending Ivory "seeds" (advanced self-replicating nano-technology) to viable worlds which would prepare a world for colonization, by converting the world's natural materials into more Ivory to be used for everything from fuel to creating life and habitat. However...

Something went wrong.

Was the planet already inhabited? Did the alien arrive before humanity? Or perhaps did humanity become over-zealous? By converting too much of the world into Ivory, the world and the moon met with earth-shattering consequences. A shattered world... Perhaps that might have been the end for humanity, until He brought the planet spines. Utilizing His technology and the Ivory, humanity may have been saved. The price however, may have led to humanity's further decline. The masses would worship the He who saved them. While those in charge may understand the price.

He probably wanted Ivory, which meant continuing to convert the world itself into Ivory.

You can see bits of past civilization swept over by the changing world in places like Blockrock, and technology in the depths of the planet (Blast Zone right before the Starworm...).

The religion created was to protect the masses. If people knew the world was ending... even if in a long time, there would be a loss in order and the chances of survival would sink further. One Concern was probably founded to find a way to save humanity, to find a way to start again... but with their ancestor's technology lost... everything was bet on mastering Ivory.

How was the world saved? Why did the quakes stop? Well, what was left of the world was held together by the planet spines and fluid Ivory which continued to devour the planet's materials. The "Seeds" are likely not organic "Seeds" but a catalyst created to give Ivory instructions to make an irreversible change into biological matter, and perhaps other habitable requirements for human life. Placed in the Starworm, connected deep in the Ivory intersection of the planet, and likely connected to Ivory across the world; suddenly all of that "glue" became solid matter. And the types of substances that will be good for humanity.

No more Ivory... (it just became scarce I imagine) but maybe the world can be saved? (Go Iconoclasts team!)
Would the world have been doomed if the Starworm had been left alone? Perhaps the world was about to break apart from lack of Ivory. And even though the Starworm didn't seem that huge, we've seen Ivory used for creating all sorts of things. Perhaps the Starworm would simply grow to meet the demand and drain all the Ivory leaving an empty shattered world.

But how far did Konjak plan? I believe I heard he made the game up as he went along. How much was planned and how much just happened? Good questions!

While there doesn't appear to be multiple routes in this game, you can affect a few things in the ending which make it a little more satisfying, and should be canon despite unlocking it being somewhat obtuse. The main thing, just make sure you befriend Mina in the dialogue choices and chase after her when she's upset. It's a bit of a bother to replay the game for slight changes, but the game can be speedrun pretty swiftly.
 
Mar 11, 2018 at 12:32 AM
Lvl 1
Forum Moderator
"Life begins and ends with Nu."
Join Date: May 28, 2008
Location: PMMM MMO
Posts: 3714
Age: 27
#7
Re-reading some of my Steam posts, here are some things I wrote:
@Robin and Royal
"Originally posted by Mopati:
Robin is the kind of girl that want to help everyone, Royal included : she grieves him, after all..."

"Originally posted by X-Calibar:
Up until this point, most mechanical problems are easily solved by Robin in the form of a giant point of interest that her giant wrench solves. Or a vent, or something. So it does seem odd to be forced into using Royal like a Crate to solve a puzzle. Konjak likely wanted to make a point, and leave it silent so that the player would come to terms with the situation in their own way.

There's also the unlikely possibility that there actually is a way to save him and it is a test of character (obtuse as it would have to be).

Then again, looking back on Robin's actions, I wonder if Robin is so altruistic.

Iconoclast -
1. a person who attacks cherished beliefs or institutions.
2. a destroyer of images used in religious worship, in particular.

From what I remember, Royal was not an iconoclast until meeting Robin. He simply was shunned for being the "royal" lucky brat who knew nothing but faith because he was kept in the dark. He did nothing to hurt others as far as I know, just rebel and run away like a teen with no friends. (Even growing flowers when you meet him...)

What if Robin is more goal oriented then we thought? Did you decide to break the Mother statues at every turn? Didn't Robin leap into a newly penanced house at the start of the game with no explained reason? Didn't her father die as a mechanic and leave behind a legacy which Robin chose to follow? Didn't Elro as well have a deep rooted anger towards the organization? Maybe Robin wanted to strike back as well? Perhaps her father left more than just a wrench? Writings...?

So perhaps Robin's actions while one aspect, naive, kind, and immensely lucky, were another determined and cunning. No mention to Mina about what she saw with the transcend machines, yet she dove right into that sea of dead without a single noticeable change in behavior. Also, Royal didn't hurt Gatekeeper Pete when he stood in his way, but Robin was willing to send him flying. Later, Robin didn't ask for help from any of her friends in the Bastion. And in the tower, apparently there was a key close to the cells... did she avoid setting them free immediately on purpose? She doesn't even try to reason with the Starworm as even Royal attempted. (far as we know, she simply hit the beast after a short exchange.)

Was there a deep resolve in being an Iconoclast? At tearing down the oppressive religion and what created it regardless of consequence? Was Royal left behind because he became a burden? Even if she regretted her actions later? You'll have to think back to her actions and decide for yourself. With few words ever spoken, or dreamt, I guess it's up to the player to decide just who Robin is. Selfless? Or Selfish...

"Originally posted by X-Calibar:
Here's my theory, painting the Starworm as less a friend:

Once upon a time, the world had no planet spines and did not constantly change shape and appearence as it does today. (as according to Precedes (mentioned by Myron in-game) and research from the Ark (One Concern computers)).

Eventually though the planet broke apart, just like the moon. (Mentioned in a One Concern PC) And now it seems as if the planet spines and Ivory are like liquid glue keeping the world together. But, the more that is drained the less stable the world becomes likely resulting in the increasing quakes.

Ivory not only holds matter together at a sub-microscopic level, but acts a body for the Eyes to control. (As called in a researcher computer in the dark caves, and Ivory property referenced in a One Concern PC). The Ivory is also used as fuel for all of humanities present-day machines.

I'm assuming humanity arrived on those Ark ships. If so, the Seeds found in the Isi Ark ship which work on anything that is made from Ivory *could imply* that it was brought with them. And if the Seeds were created to work on Ivory, then perhaps humanity also created the Ivory present on the planet.

Under this theory, I imagine humanity sending Ivory "seeds" (advanced self-replicating nano-technology) to viable worlds which would prepare a world for colonization, by converting the world's natural materials into more Ivory to be used for everything from fuel to creating life and habitat. However...

Something went wrong.

Was the planet already inhabited? Did the alien arrive before humanity? Or perhaps did humanity become over-zealous? By converting too much of the world into Ivory, the world and the moon met with earth-shattering consequences. A shattered world... Perhaps that might have been the end for humanity, until He brought the planet spines. Utilizing His technology and the Ivory, humanity may have been saved. The price however, may have led to humanity's further decline. The masses would worship the He who saved them. While those in charge may understand the price.

He probably wanted Ivory, which meant continuing to convert the world itself into Ivory.

You can see bits of past civilization swept over by the changing world in places like Blockrock, and technology in the depths of the planet (Blast Zone right before the Starworm...).

The religion created was to protect the masses. If people knew the world was ending... even if in a long time, there would be a loss in order and the chances of survival would sink further. One Concern was probably founded to find a way to save humanity, to find a way to start again... but with their ancestor's technology lost... everything was bet on mastering Ivory.

How was the world saved? Why did the quakes stop? Well, what was left of the world was held together by the planet spines and fluid Ivory which continued to devour the planet's materials. The "Seeds" are likely not organic "Seeds" but a catalyst created to give Ivory instructions to make an irreversible change into biological matter, and perhaps other habitable requirements for human life. Placed in the Starworm, connected deep in the Ivory intersection of the planet, and likely connected to Ivory across the world; suddenly all of that "glue" became solid matter. And the types of substances that will be good for humanity.

No more Ivory... (it just became scarce I imagine) but maybe the world can be saved? (Go Iconoclasts team!)
Would the world have been doomed if the Starworm had been left alone? Perhaps the world was about to break apart from lack of Ivory. And even though the Starworm didn't seem that huge, we've seen Ivory used for creating all sorts of things. Perhaps the Starworm would simply grow to meet the demand and drain all the Ivory leaving an empty shattered world.

But how far did Konjak plan? I believe I heard he made the game up as he went along. How much was planned and how much just happened? Good questions!

While there doesn't appear to be multiple routes in this game, you can affect a few things in the ending which make it a little more satisfying, and should be canon despite unlocking it being somewhat obtuse. The main thing, just make sure you befriend Mina in the dialogue choices and chase after her when she's upset. It's a bit of a bother to replay the game for slight changes, but the game can be speedrun pretty swiftly.
See the thing is I don't think there's actually enough given about Robin to decide for yourself on. She doesn't really show any reaction to anything outside of a few key events (being slightly sad at Elro's destroyed house, happy when seeing Elro again, and supposedly crying in the jail cell when placed there). It's kind of standard for the silent protagonist type but doesn't play well with the narrative since she never really has a clear goal. There is no journey for her, just a bunch of events that's she's strung along with. It's kind of ironic since the game seems to try to paint her arc as her rebelling/deciding for herself what to do (ignoring her father's wishes for a quiet life, and going to do dangerous things in spite of Elro), but she seems to have very little agency throughout the entire game. The idea that maybe her father left her and Elro some writings or some desire to strike back against the system is neat, but if that's the case then that should have really been elaborated on somewhere in the game. From what we have, it's natural to assume that Elro's anger is self-derived from his father's passing, not necessarily something passed down given how Robin lacks it. If Robin had been given just a bit more characterization or some sort of "drive"/goal, I think the overall narrative would've played out much better. It's why destroying the star worm feels so pointless, it doesn't feel like a goal we were working towards at all, and everyone else had given up on it.

Also Royal's death to me is another good moment to witness Robin's lack of personality/characterization. I like the idea of the timer being there mostly for the player to antagonize on whether or not you should have to leave Royal behind (there really is no choice here though, even if you got him past the door there's boxes in the next room 2 tiles high that you wouldn't be able to jump over carrying him). But despite giving us this hard "decision", the game is very quick to brush off his death. Robin doesn't react to it, and neither does anyone else. It feels almost insulting to him, but just makes his death an almost meaningless event in the game's story, since if no one reacts to it then it's not like things would have played out differently if he was still alive.

I've also seen a video of the ending where Mina tags along, and I like it much better since her presence (and reactions) help contextualize what's going on there. It still has issues but there's much less of a sense of confusion. There's a reason the silent protagonist normally has supporting characters following them around everywhere, so I think she really should have been at this final fight regardless of whether or not you maxed out her affinity.
Basically, the game's story has a lot of holes that if you're willing (to go to extreme lengths) to fill in, you can make out a somewhat satisfying story from. That's how I feel about the game. I didn't feel this way about other games like Cave Story and whatnot. There were sometimes holes in the plot, but not for anything critically important like this game.
 
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