Iron Danger really intrigued us, as you will read in review, thanks to his originality background and wanting to take risks at all costs by focusing on its most peculiar mechanics. The similarity with other role-playing games such as Divinity: Original Sin 2 or Pillars of Eternity is only apparent, because Action Squad Studios, the developer, has chosen to take a completely different path, certainly more difficult, but at the same time fascinating, so much so that we hope to see the game system perfected in a broader sequel.
La history by Iron Danger follows the story of Kipuna, a girl whose village is attacked early in the game by the men of Northland, a tyrannical, violent and brutal nation. The situation immediately appears desperate and flight by sea seems to be the only alternative to death, given that Kipuna does not have great fighter skills and in any case cannot face an entire army alone. On the way to the port, however, an old brick floor collapses under her feet and the young woman ends up impaled on a sharp fragment of rock. It would seem to be the end for her, except that a spirit manifestation called Aurolith rewinds time to the moment before the floor collapsed and saves her. Kipuna then comes back to life with the rock fragment still in her chest, which apparently gave her the power to manipulate time.
This is where Iron Danger begins to reveal itself to the player by introducing trance, basically a tactical pause that allows the player to program his actions, be they attacks, parries, dodges, moves, throwing objects and more, and to rewind the game. time in case of mistakes or even death.
Surviving, Kipuna runs into the blacksmith Topi, one of her travel companions throughout the adventure. From now on, he will be the one to fight, while still exploiting Kipuna's powers. Together they will reach the port and take a ship with which they will go to talk to the wise Antheor in the capital, who will explain to him what happened in Kipuna and how only she can save everyone from looming threat, because it is unique in being able to touch the crystals that form the Aurolith, necessary to form a protective barrier. After the introductory part, Iron Danger shows more its role-playing nature, as well as all the efforts made by the developers to propose something original, starting from the combat system.
At first the idea of trance can make Iron Danger seem extremely easy. After all, the power to rewind time makes us practically immortal, doesn't it?
Nothing could be more wrong, because temporal manipulation is indeed a big advantage, but the enemy forces are often overwhelming in number and size of the opponents and just as often a couple of hits are enough to send one of our characters to the ground. Furthermore, the system is much more complex than it seems: each of our actions consumes the so-called heartbeats and can end up benefiting the opponents if misused. For example, a powerful attack can consume several heartbeats and require a certain recovery time during which the character is essentially exposed. In addition, the usable skills are many, all different, and must be well timed, if you do not want to miss the opponent, both in attack and in defense, giving him the opportunity to counterattack. The essence is that you often die and many fights are tense like violin strings, because in addition to winning you must also try to minimize the damage, if you do not want to get to the next fight in great trouble.
It must be said that the satisfaction of mastering the combat system of Iron Danger is really very high and at times it seems to be more in front of a strategic game than a role-playing game, also considering that to win it is often required to exploit elements of the scenario (traps, explosive barrels and so on) and act in the way less reckless as possible.
The particular system of growth of the characters, which basically does not exist. Kipuna can assign points to his skills at the end of each chapter of the game, but he doesn't have any real characteristics to improve or experience points to accumulate to level up. The loot is also minimalist, in the sense that there are healing items, grenades, hand traps and little else around, but no weapons or armor. From a certain point of view this may seem like a limitation, but in reality the game would hardly have worked if the characters had become too powerful.
Manipulating time is passionate because the player is always aware of the weakness of his units, which leads him to avoid hasty actions and to better evaluate what is around him. It is true that in the advanced stages of the game skills are developed that greatly facilitate combat, such as mind control of enemies, but in general the gameplay holds up precisely because it does not exceed in making the player omnipotent by giving him easy escape routes.
Up to now, Iron Danger would be an excellent game, if it weren't for some flaws that slow it down a bit. The most obvious is the narrative side, not really great. The game world is well characterized, technically it is excellent for its production level, but the story told does not have much bite and, above all, is closed in a hurry.
Another sore point are the elements adventure, that is the numerous puzzle with which the gameplay is sprinkled. The problem is not so much that they are made badly, but that the temporal manipulation makes them superfluous, almost a waste of time, if you forgive the pun. For example, what is the point of traps if it is possible to rewind time? In fact, they become a continuous trial and error that tires after a while. There are some more intriguing puzzles, but they are overshadowed by the underlying simplicity created by the whole system, which works as well on the battlefield as it is lame when applied to other areas.
Iron Danger is an atypical RPG that tries to remain as consistent as possible with its basic concept, sacrificing all those elements that would get in the way so as not to betray it. The way time manipulation has been studied is admirable and works really well for fights, making it one of the best things I've tried this year. Definitely not a perfect game, especially due to the incomplete history and the puzzles that are a bit too trial and error, but we still recommend you try it because it is one of the freshest interpretations of the genre in recent years.
- Time manipulation works well in combat
- An original mix of adventure and role-playing
- It has some exhilarating moments
- Puzzles are the weakest moments
- History is incomplete