If 90s gaming taught me anything, it’s that no problem should stand in your way! This was the decade for some of the greatest beat-em-up titles. Therefore, when I’m offered a game that takes inspiration from this era, I jump at the chance. Breakneck City captures the difficulty, vivid art style, and wonderful synth music of the 90s, and I know that older gamers will love it.
Developed by Renegade Sector Games and Eastasiasoft Limited and published by the latter, this is a low-poly beat-em-up title. You must venture through an array of environments, hunting down goons and tackling bosses. It focuses on some well-trodden mechanics and though it isn’t revolutionary; it is fun to play.
Breakneck City treads no new ground.
You may be disappointed that the gameplay lacks originality, but I wasn’t. I loved the nod to a much-loved genre, and the familiar characters you must face. I also enjoyed the ability to play both solo and couch co-op and this expands its appeal further still. The action spans six grimy levels as you face off against many enemies. You will explore city streets, a nightclub, skyscrapers, and more. Each location comprises hordes of goons and a boss who must be stopped, no matter the cost!
You control either Sidney Flintlock or Justine Jacobs who are slightly peeved about their favourite video store. A vicious gang attempts to burn it down in an act of revenge as its owner refuses to sell up. The crime-fighting duo takes matters into their own hands while taking to the street to crack some heads and restore some order.
Use the surrounding environment.
Unlike many of its peers, Breakneck City demands that you use the surrounding environment to your advantage. It was fantastic to throw your foes off a balcony or to kick them down a flight of steps. Further, still, you can swing off poles, break hot pipes and scold them with steam, or ram them over rails. These options added depth to the gameplay as well as a distinct 90s action feel. I adored thinking of new ways to mix up the fighting, and this was helped by the introduction of weapons.
Both heroes can shoulder barge, dodge, kick, and punch their way out of trouble. Yet, there is only so far that this will get you. Consequently, when goons run at you with pipes, knives, bats, and more, you must work out how to disarm them. Fortunately, a couple of swift blows to the face allow you to steal their weapon, and suddenly you become even more badass. Sadly, though, this isn’t the end of the story, as each weapon breaks sooner rather than later. This was annoying as they always broke too soon and this left you wanting more.
Sadly, it’s not perfect.
I enjoyed most things about Breakneck City, however; I was disappointed by some elements within the gameplay. First, was the lack of tools at your disposal! There are stools, chairs, boxes, and more lying around, yet you can’t pick them up. In a situation where you are fighting for your life, I’d grab anything close to hand. However, the two heroes ignore the skull-breaking items and continue to use their fists. Second, the health boost items are sporadically placed, and this causes you no end of issues. You can go for ages with no items available, and then, like a bus, three turn up at once. It was ridiculous and badly thought out.
My final issue falls at the feet of the bosses. I have no concerns that the army of goons can be easily swept aside. Yet, I expect the bosses to put up a bit of a fight. Annoyingly, this rarely happened, and you’d mow through each of them with no challenge. The developers should have made this much harder as it would have added to the longevity and the enjoyment.
Breakneck City epitomises 90s gaming.
Many gamers overlooked the Sega Saturn in favour of the PlayStation One. I understand why, but this fantastic console produced some iconic games with distinctive aesthetics. Luckily, Breakneck City’s low-poly imagery and pixelated finish are both reminiscent of this wonderful machine. You will explore 3D environments that are unique, vivid, and full of surprises. Sadly, though, there are a few issues and glitches, however, these add to the 90s vibe. Luckily, I didn’t experience anything that was game-breaking and I enjoyed everything on offer.
This is a game about high-energy and ass-kicking ways. Therefore, you want a soundtrack that suits the action. Fortunately, the loud and upbeat synth music does just that. Its booming soundtrack demands you keep going while the sound effects make you wince. I loved the classic audio that matches the theme and genre.
It’s all about the timing!
Though much of the action demands manic button-bashing, there is some finesse required. As hordes of enemies surround you, and tougher goons appear, you must get your timing spot on. Luckily, the responsive controls help, and this element adds some difficulty to an otherwise easy game. Furthermore, it was enjoyable pushing your foes around while experimenting with the scenery. I think the developers did a wonderful job of making this easy to learn and this allows you to jump straight into the action.
Sadly, Breakneck City lacks replay value. Once you complete the six levels, there is little reason to return. Luckily, though, each stage is relatively long and there is the chance to play couch co-op, so this adds to the longevity. If you are a completionist, you’ll love the short and easy achievement list. Subsequently, I finished this in under an hour and completed every level in around two to three hours.
Breakneck City is a nostalgia-fuelled title.
Relying on bygone eras isn’t always the best inspiration, yet Breakneck City is a wonderful example that must be played. If you love 90s gaming and beat-em-ups, you’ll adore what’s on offer. Yes, it isn’t that challenging, but it’s fun, full of energy, and looks great. I thoroughly enjoyed kicking ass and I recommend you to buy it here! Will you be victorious, or will the evil gang get their way? Fight through every level and only stop when you have your revenge.