25 Oct 2011

Mechanical wonder: The Iconoclasts

Another day and another piece of indie magic in which to lose myself. IGF entrant The Iconoclasts sparked my interest, not only because I happened to be in the mood for checking out some pure and gleeful platform gaming, but because an alpha version of the game is already available to play and I just couldn't pass it up.

I was expecting a short snippet of action in demonstration of the basic game mechanics, or a rough prototype with the art assets in place prior to the actual gameplay being fleshed out, but I was amazed to discover just how polished this long unfinished gem actually is.

The project has been on and off since its previous incarnation as Ivory Springs back in 2009 and, on the game's website, designer Joakim Sandberg has stated that the latest version makes this playable preview copy seem "quite inferior". If this is a reference to how The Iconoclasts actually plays in the alpha then I don't know what to think; it's hard to see how this experience could be honed to a finer point. But we do know, at least, that the cartoon graphics have been upgraded to HD which should lend the whole thing a slightly more commercial fronting.

The game is set in a colourful fantasy world and the visual stylings are distinctly animé. You take control of a young lady named Robin, recently orphaned after her father died. She now lives alone in a beautiful, bright - but restrictive - rural settlement. Technology here is controlled by the government, tinkering is outlawed and this puts Robin, daughter of a famed mechanic under quite a bit of scrutiny.

After a brief explore and an early boss fight you'll be confronted by the black-suited antagonists and the plot thickens from then on as you set about blasting the wildlife and using a contraband wrench to wreak all kinds of havoc.

The dialogue is fast, funny and enhanced by some expressive character animation. The music is toe-tappingly upbeat. To be honest, it's just nice to see a fun, light-hearted platform game joining the rest of the IGF entries when so often it can appear to be a dry, artsy contest.

Obviously the portion I played can't be said to be representative of the final product, but as far as I can tell, things can only get better. I haven't been this enthused by a platformer for a long while.

The Iconoclasts has not been set a release date, but you can pick up the preview copy here.

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