Breakpoint Review: Twin Stick Slashing

Breakpoint is available on Steam, for under five dollars. Joseph Pugh conducted this review.

Overview

Breakpoint is a bullet hell twin-stick shooter with no shooting! Instead, you beat back hordes of ship-like enemies with melee weapons.

By gathering charge, your weapons grow stronger, but charged weapons break after a set number of strikes. They unleash a huge blast when they do. Utilizing these “Breakpoints” is the key to attaining a high score.

The spear has a narrow cone of attack, but a longer reach than other weapons.

Breakpoint features a leaderboard showcasing the high scores of others player and how you compare, interestingly, you can select any of the players on the board and watch a replay of the run they obtained that score on. It’s a nifty feature.

Gameplay

Breakpoint is a lightweight but laser-focused arcade game that emulates the same style and joy from classics such as Galaga and Asteroids. There is only one mode and no progression. It’s all about obtaining the highest score possible and that alone can be incredibly addictive.

This is partially due to the fact that Breakpoint is still a modern game. It’s controls are smooth as ice. The music is upbeat and the visuals are a dazzling array of fireworks. Enemy ships explode like a shattered wine glass, with all of the beauty and none of the pointy sharp mess.

Charged weapons can be thrown and will still activate a breakpoint.

It’s simple to pick up and play but has a level of mastery to it that isn’t readily apparent. There are five weapons you can pick up, each one has strengths and weaknesses, from the fast but short-ranged daggers, the slow hard-hitting hammer, or the pinpointed reach of the spear.

Defeated enemies drop charge and gathering it will charge your weapon up to three levels. But charged weapons have a limited number of swings before they break. Breaking a weapon causes a huge explosion, and the higher the weapon was charged, the bigger the boom.

Power attacks break a weapon faster and you can even throw a charged weapon. If it makes contact with enough enemies to break, the explosion still happens.

Balancing your charge and your breakpoint is integral to a good run. Just swingingly wildly isn’t optimal. Your swing damages your weapon the same amount, whether you hit one enemy or many.

Careful timing of breakpoints is the key.

You want to take out as many foes as possible with every attack, using your charged-up weapons to your advantage before unleashing it’s breakpoint at the right moment to clear as many foes as possible.

You only have three lives per run and you die from making contact from an enemy or projectile. The longer a run goes on, the more the game throws at you. Breakpoint has a nice variety of enemies that have their own quirks and approaches despite the game’s simplicity.

Some enemies swarm you with overwhelming numbers, others fire projectiles. One type of enemy shields the rest in a force field. Another rockets around the arena leaving walls behind like the light cycles in Tron. Some can only be killed by a breakpoint, others cant be killed by a breakpoint at all.

There is a heavy degree of thought and strategy baked into a frantic and chaotic bullet-hell cake. You have to move, think, and act fast to succeed. It’s fun, clever, and addictive, it does a lot with very little and is very impressive in that respect.

Verdict

Breakpoint is a small game asking a small price. It’s simplistic arcade-shell houses a decent amount of clever gameplay. Chasing high scores can still be a time suck even today. Breakpoint is easily a game where, after every loss, you go “Eh, just one more run” and then you play five while your dog gives you the sad eyes over an a forgotten and empty food bowl.

That said, its single-mode means you only have one chance to click with it. Jumping into the game is lightning quick, but the game ramps up over time. This can make the restarting runs painful, as they start pretty slow, and if you were on a streak it feels even slower.

Weapons with max charge are powerful, take full advantage of them before they break.

Each weapon has a purpose, but I think a stronger variety could have added a lot more to the game. Especially because at least a couple probably won’t jive with you. For me, it’s the hammer, I actively avoid picking it up, so my selection is essentially now four. Those are mostly small gripes and dreamy what-ifs though.

The core of Breakpoint is a fast-paced arcade experience, and the game absolutely nails it with addictive gameplay and eye-popping visual effects. I know people still like arcade games because they keep buying old ones repackaged. Breakpoint costs just under five dollars, so why not make some new nostalgia instead?

A copy of Breakpoint was provided for Gideon’s Gaming by The Quantum Astrophysicists Guild for the purpose of review.

If you like this, you might also want to look at my review of another really cheap arcade game called Warp Glider. You could check out my Kofi page too, every donation helps me a great deal.

Pros

  • Great melee twist on the twin-stick shooter
  • Clever charge and break mechanics requires some level of mastery to perform well
  • Great visuals and smooth controls
  • Being able to click on and watch other players runs on the leaderboard is nifty

Cons

  • Extremely one note with a single-mode to play
  • Could use more weapon variety