I enjoy story-based RPGs, tabletop gaming, and making myself sick in VR. I haven't let a professional cut my hair in years and I do not intend to start now.
Breakpoint is a fast-paced, twin-stick arena fighter out now on Steam and the Nintendo eShop. The game takes clear inspiration from Geometry Wars but puts a new spin on the formula, swapping out ranged weapons for sweeping melee attacks. The result is what indie developer Studio Aesthesia calls a “Twin-Stick Slasher”, a frantic game of drawing your enemies into groups and dodging their attacks before charging in to finish them up close. The break feature causes your weapons to explode after landing a few strikes, encouraging you to time your attacks and maximise the number of enemies caught in the blast when your gear inevitably detonates.
The variety of weapons on offer helps keep rounds fresh. Each armament you pick up offers a different balance of range and speed. For example, the lance is perfect for clearing some space with its quick jabs in a straight line. On the down side, attacking straight forward makes the lance less useful against swarms from multiple directions. This trade-off encourages you to move evasively and avoid being surrounded. At the opposite end of this spectrum is the hammer; its slow movement forces you to be more considerate with your attacks but each wide swing can crush foes in an arc around you. Instead of quick movements, the hammer rewards letting your enemies bunch in close before knocking them down with a sweeping strike.
In my time with Breakpoint, I managed to crack into the top 100 on the scoreboard. My score has already fallen way down the ladder as more players pick up Breakpoint, but I had a blast seeing my score improve as I learned the unique movement of each weapon. Once I did get overwhelmed, a single button press sent me straight back into the action. The quick restart between runs keeps Breakpoint’s energy high, even in the face of defeat.
While Breakpoint undeniably has style, you might find that it falls short on substance. After an hour or so, there’s a good chance you will have seen everything the game has to offer. While there is a variety of weapons, they are designed to be quickly discarded—even accidentally—by moving over pickups on the battlefield. The selection of weapons ultimately adds little depth when you will try all of them in your first few runs. This isn’t Enter The Gungeon where hundreds of weapons with wildly different effects will keep you on your toes. Breakpoint has a handful of melee options that vary in reach and speed. Because you can’t pick a starting weapon and the game encourages switching, you never really perfect a playstyle. This limits the role of weapons as either a choice or a source of variety. Similarly, the stage never seems to change to present new challenges. From what I was skilled enough to reach, you’ll be fighting in a featureless square box for the entirety of your runs. I didn’t notice much variety in enemies either; while there are new shapes in different colours that will come at you with different attacks, the counter-strategy of juking and slashing will be relevant throughout, never really forcing you to alter your game plan.
Overall, this leaves Breakpoint in position for a recommendation with the caveat that your mileage may wildly vary. For comparison, I had a classmate who was deeply in to Super Hexagon and would play it constantly and skilfully. I thought it looked cool, but I was never able to really get into it or see the appeal beyond killing a few minutes between classes. I didn’t get invested enough to enjoy just playing the game for the sake of itself and developing a specialised skill to be good at it. I see Breakpoint as being very much in the same boat. I can definitely see this being a game that you could spend hours with, honing your abilities and pushing your score higher and higher. Equally, however, this could be a game you play for fifteen minutes and never touch again. How far you go with Breakpoint will come down to how well it can sell you on its gameplay.
If you’re looking to immerse yourself in a frantic battle fuelled by bright lights and synth music you can certainly do worse than Breakpoint, available now on PC via Steam and Nintendo Switch.