Studio Aesthesia revitalizes a niche genre, and adds a new touch to create an exciting twin-stick experience to add to your Steam Library. You play as a small white ship, being bombarded by other simple geometric spacecrafts. Swords, axes, or even spears will be at your disposal to equip and upgrade to achieve the high score. The design is reminiscent of the vector-style arcadelike graphics from the ’80s. For those seeking a new approach to some classic vintage action, in quick bursts Breakpoint will deliver.
When you begin a new run, you’ll find yourself immersed in waves of approaching enemy ships. They will come in full swarms utilizing different projectile patterns and flight movements. You must navigate carefully and take things up-close and personal with melee weapons as your arsenal. My personal favorite is the spear due it’s quick and responsive attack speed. Each upgradable weapon has a primary attack and a slower, yet stronger secondary attack. You also have the option to throw your weapon like a projectile as a special attack. Collecting points left behind from destroyed enemy ships will fill your meter to increase your total amount of weapon throws.
First-time players are immediately pulled into a tutorial, before reaching the main menu. This creates a unique and memorable experience, much like the first time inserting quarters into a new arcade cabinet. It takes less than a minute to be introduced to the controls and game goals. The main trick to learn is to attack with swords and axes, instead of the traditional guns, lasers, and missiles in similar games. It feels strange at first, but the melee gimmick was implemented nicely, creating what Breakpoint is referred to as a “twin-stick slasher.” This is a well executed introduction to what the title has to offer.
Visually, Breakpoint looks clean and the bright colors are easy on the eyes with no motion blur. The sprites are a nice minimalist design, but maybe a little uninspired when paired with the more detailed weapons. What really stands out is the juxtaposition of your white ship using medieval weapons to fight off vibrant enemies with futuristic space technology. With the retro gaming revival in full stride, many games today fully embrace the pixelated aesthetic. It’s nice to now see developers draw new inspiration from other consoles such as the Vectrex.
The neon color palette is accompanied by a simple, electronic music piece that serves it’s purpose as in-game music and nothing more. It’s not bad or anything, but you’ll eventually tune it out due to the increasing demand for your focus as you reach higher and stronger waves of enemies. If you want some audio variety, maybe drop the music volume and find a Vaporwave playlist to jam out to. On the other hand, the sound effects are solid. It genuinely feels good and satisfying to swing a mighty hammer at the enemy and feel the impact of the explosion. Hearing your foes explode in a crunchy, full soundbite is what gives Breakpoint life.
Although this is a twin-stick game, I had little to-no-issues playing with a keyboard and mouse. It really doesn’t diminish the gaming experience at all. The real fun began, however, once I connected my Bluetooth controller to fully realize the game, as I assume the developers intended. That is of course by utilizing the analog sticks, hence the genre. Just know that the right stick (or mouse depending on your peripheral style) merely aims your ship. Those who are used to having the fire and aim function both assigned to the right analog, in all honesty will not have any issues adapting. The controls are tight and responsive.
The weapons each have their own weight and feel to them. The sword is like a windshield wiper covering the front half of your hitbox at a moderate swing speed. The delayed, yet loud impact of the hammer is brutal. I love holding down the secondary fire and charging up a huge cleave while pursuing waves head-on. When your special meter is full, toss your weapon to get you out of a tight corner and clear gatherings at a distance. Picking up and cycling through the different weapons to freshen up the action is clearly Breakpoint’s biggest strength.
After several attempts to best your own high score, or even top the leaderboards if you’re an arcade veteran, you’ll quickly see all that Breakpoint has to offer. There’s really not much else to do aside from the main game. Players seeking extra features, such as character customization, level select, or a story mode, may be left with a little to be desired. For those longing for more, I suggest to check out Xeno Crisis. Breakpoint reaches out to those who can enjoy the retro arcade experience without the need for any extra bells and whistles.
Drawing inspiration from the likes of Robotron: 2084 and Smash T.V., Breakpoint is another solid entry to the twin-stick action library with a fresh coat of paint. Best played in short bursts, this is a satisfying title to return to here and there.