Iconoclasts

Game review by
David Wolinsky, Common Sense Media
Iconoclasts Game Poster Image
Ambitious, philosophical action title is a delightful joy.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

Grapples with answers to questions about faith, purpose, challenges of helping others.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Characters are dismissive, smug; many characters quick to violence.

Ease of Play

Simple controls, easy to play -- except for a few areas and encounters where difficulty can ratchet up unpredictably.

Violence

Violence is stylized, with mild blood, gore.

Sex

Couple of veiled crude sexual innuendos.

Language

Minor profanities (like "damn," "hell"), epithets such as "bastard," "bitch," "jackass." 

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

A man with very red cheeks, swaying in his seat in a "refreshments" establishment, appears in a bar early on.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Iconoclasts is a downloadable action/adventure game for PlayStation 4, Vita, and PC. In this throwback to old-school run-and-jump titles, you wander around a variety of environments helping characters, defeating enemies, and collecting a variety of items. In a fantastical setting, violence is stylized with mild blood or gore. Overall, there's a steady amount of mildly objectionable content. There are minor profanities (e.g., "damn," "hell") and epithets such as "bastard," "bitch," and "jackass." There's also some veiled crude sexual innuendo during the game, as well as a man with red cheeks swaying on his stool in a "refreshments" establishment.

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What's it about?

In ICONOCLASTS, renegade mechanic Robin uncovers the secrets of a dying planet. After instigating a series of unfortunate events in her home town, Robin must venture into a beautiful, hostile, and frequently odd world. Along the way, you'll meet pirates, philosophers, bored spiritualists, and a sinister organization/labor union called the One Concern. You'll also explore a big world filled with intricate puzzles, quirky writing, and menacing bosses in a beautiful platform adventure that tells a personal story about faith, purpose, and the challenge of helping people.

Is it any good?

While it took a decade to make and was at risk for seeming disjointed or out of date, this action game overflows with charm and, well, fun. From the moment Iconoclasts' title screen appears to the final boss battle, there's an exhilarating amount of presentational flair everywhere you turn. There have been countless games intended as a sort of mash-up note to old-school Nintendo action games, but this one wisely doesn't feel the need to adhere to old restrictions. This is instantly apparent when you run into characters like cranky pirates, soldiers considering defecting, and villagers with ceremonial tasks questioning the importance of what they do: They all have huge word balloons and really want to talk to you to share their life philosophy and hear about yours. Another good example: One boss fight suddenly has you switching off controlling two characters during the same battle, when the game has never done that before or indicated it might. It's full of surprises like this which mostly work. Newcomers to these type of old-school features won't feel coddled on the easiest difficulty, which offers concessions like auto-aiming with jumping and shooting attacks -- which is a nice olive branch to players who might be confined to a keyboard's more rigid input possibilities. The tide can be turned in your favor, too, with completely optional side quests to craft your own power-ups with items you collect.

That said, it's the staggering amount of these sudden left turns that can sometimes hamper progress or outright frustrate players. The difficulty can ratchet up unpredictably and suddenly. Some portions have complex logistical puzzles of moving platforms, while others defy you to master new tactics for fighting enemies. This can be complicated because even if you think you understand these moves, you can't quite execute all of them. Although these bumps in the road can derail your adventure, they can also serve as a nice change of pace. That's because if Iconoclasts does anything well, it's maintaining its pacing to ensure you want to keep pressing on. Whether it's the sheer variety of locales or the cast of colorful characters (philosophers, pirates, and a community that studies seeds), this game is wall-to-wall enjoyable.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the nostalgia for old-school graphics so abundant in modern video games. Why do you think this older style is being revisited in Iconoclasts? What can it do that more realistic visuals cannot?

  • This game's creator was working on the game in some form or another for 10 years. How can you identify, assess, plan, and stay on track for a project that you would be willing to devote a significant portion of your life to?

Game details

Themes & Topics

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