I like how the big reveal at the end is that Ivory is just some kind of terraforming system used on make the planet into effectively a big gas station, and the Spaceworm that brought Ivory to the world to begin with is just a biomechanical spaceship piloted by an alien. Heck, the one you fight might not even be the same spaceworm! One of those "sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic" sort of things. And the reveal is done with action instead of a giant text dump, which is something I always appreciate. It also makes the way the pirate's "seeds" (likely a type of human terraforming tech) react to it so violently make more sense... two bits of tech trying to do the same thing have a clash.
But really, the spaceworm and whatnot isn't what really sold me on the game... it's the character arcs! All of them are really well done, and go in directions way different from what you would expect. I kind of wondered why the game's name was changed from The Iconoclasts to just Iconoclasts, but it became clear by the time the game was getting to the end. Many of the major characters have some kind of iconclastic belief or ideal that explores the concept of what an iconoclast can be, and this applies to both the heroes and the villains. Not EVERY major character is an iconoclast, but its certainly a major theme of the game. Calling the game THE Iconoclasts would imply that they are a unified group, which isn't the case at all. But anyhow...
- Robin's arc is... well, Robin doesn't have a lot of characterization beyond her actions, since she serves as the standard silent protagonist, but she fills the role of being a "heroic iconoclast." All she wants to do is help people. She's doesn't want to oppose the One Concern on principle, she just wants to be a mechanic and help folks, and she won't let anybody tell her "no." The entire game has both villains and allies (Elro and the memory of her father, especially) trying to put the brakes on her, and she just does not give one single crap, struggling onward no matter what anyone says or how grim the outlook seems to be. The final line before the credits roll, when Elro tells her "I won't tell you what to do any more" is a great way to cap off her story.
- Royal, meanwhile, is an effective tragic arc. At first the guy seems like the typical egotistical blowhard, but as you play the game it becomes clear that his actions are all a desperate front to try and gain the love and respect he craves from society. Despite is idiotic behavior, he has a benevolent nature overall, and much like Robin he just wants to help... but unlike Robin, who helps others for her own fulfillment, he wants to help so that society will recognize him and his status, which is the major contrast between the two. Just when he's finally showing signs of wising up and learning to do things for himself rather than for praise from others, he gets mindfucked by the spaceworm and Robin is forced to abandon him, where he dies alone and unloved by the society he desperately wanted to be a part of. By the time that happened I was really rooting for the guy to finally get his act together, especially since most of his worst behavior stems from the One Concern's brainwashing, telling him and the world around him that he is a divinely chosen being. Still, at the very end, when he finally realizes that everything he's always believed in was nothing but a lie, his last act is one of rebellion, a desperate psychic attack that damages the spaceworm's armor, allowing Robin to defeat it later. That last act of heroism really highlights how much he wasted his own potential, and acts as a bittersweet end to his story.
- Elro is... man, Elro is kind of fucked up. He's almost as messed up as Agent Black is, and he's also a big reason why Agent Black is so messed up to begin with. His character seems like the typical caring brother at first, but when his family dies and he reunites with Robin later, he's lost his will to live for anything other than protecting Robin and getting revenge on the One Concern. And while at first you might wonder why he doesn't blame Robin for his family's fate, later the game reveals that was certainly going to happen anyway, as part of Black's revenge against him for killing Agent White.
While I don't think it is ever revealed whether or not the One Concern deliberately killed Robin and Elro's father or not, Elro certainly blamed them, and just like Agent Black, he had a strong desire for vengeance long before Robin got involved. For being one of Robin's allies, he's an incredibly dark character. He stoically kills General Chrome, and during the lead up to the rocket launch, the rage fueled stab when he kills the Agent that serves as his boss fight is really uncomfortable to watch. In fact, of the three different characters who have to fight bosses in the sequence, only Elro actually kills one off... the other heroes just knock their foe unconscious and move on. He might be one of Robin's allies, but his actions are more in line with a villain that anything else. The game certainly recognizes that many of his actions are unjustified as well, and he continually suffers throughout the game... most of it being the result of his own selfish actions.
- Mina's arc is considerably less dark than either Royal or Elro's, thankfully. Her arc is almost entirely internal, and revolves around her feelings that she isn't living up to what the Pirate society she's part of expects from her. Now, at first, I didn't pick up that Samba was her lover (because they dress so similarly I thought they were sisters at first). Samba and her mother both chastise her for never being around, and the rest of the village seems to think she's nice but kind of flaky, and at first I didn't understand why she seemed to avoid her own town so much, especially since her dialogue makes it clear that she has nothing but the highest respect for her people and their society. But when I saw the scene between Mina and Samba after her rescue for the tower my dumb ass finally figured it out and I was like "Oh, okay, her story makes sense now."
Unlike the One Concern, the Pirates have a culture of ancestor worship, and they believe that the best thing a human can do is create offspring. This is such a huge aspect of their culture that their walls are literally covered in fertility motifs. Naturally, as a lesbian, that isn't something Mina and Samba can accomplish, and Mina can't reconcile her love for her society's beliefs with her own inability to live up to what she feels is expected of her, hence she runs away. Of course, with the world coming to an end, she finally realizes how important her loved ones are, even if she can't fully meet society's expectations of her, and her ending has her and Samba standing together, about to go through the pirate's version of a marriage ceremony. What's interesting is that her village seems entirely unconcerned with her sexuality, no NPCs ever seem to bring it up as an issue, so she isn't being cast out... she's running entirely from her own feelings of not being able to be what she thinks she is supposed to be, rather than from any external force. Now, I'm not in any position to judge how good a gay character arc is, but I did like her story, and its focus on quiet introspection compared to the world shaking events most of the rest of the cast deals with was a good way to round out Iconoclasts' story.
I liked the villains' story arcs, but this has been long winded enough as it is, so that can wait a bit while I sort my thoughts out.