In living up to its name, Proletariat, Inc. has released a working-class game on the Epic Games storefront called Spellbreak. It’s another title to join the ever-growing battle royale lineup focused around a magic-based theme. Players take on the role of mages who portal into a ruined fantasy world to ‘exile’ other mages. While it is a nice reprieve from its shooter-based peers, Spellbreak has a fair share of weaknesses alongside its strengths.
Gloves Over Guns
The game’s story explains that magic is regulated and those who don’t use it responsibly are outlaws. These “Vowbreakers” are controlled by players who unleash their powers against each other to prove who’s stronger.
The powers take the form of magic-infused gauntlets centered around one of several elements: Fire, Earth, Ice, Lightning, Wind, and Toxic. Each one is different in forms of attack and damage. There’s a primary attack and an empowered secondary attack that has a cooldown. There’s no need to reload since they use mana, which regenerates over time, and players can have two gauntlets at once.
While the magic is flashy and varied, it feels imbalanced. Earth magic does lots of damage, but is restricted to the ground making it useless against elevated opponents. Fire is also strong, but its traveling speed and rate of fire makes it easy to avoid. By contrast, Wind and Toxic seem too effective: Wind is fast and precise while Toxic is quiet and practical causing damage over time.
Bright Players, Dull World
The character design in Spellbreak has color and detail while still being simple. Being able to levitate is a fun mechanic, but it highlights another problem: Visibility. Character models are vibrant while the environments are not. Endless stretches of dull land and stone ruins make it difficult for players to blend in. Since the game lacks both a crouch and sprint function, stealthy players will find themselves with limited options.
On top of that, players need to select their drop point before actually dropping in. This almost guarantees an encounter and leaves little chance of repositioning.
Nice Loot, Bad Looting
The equipment and inventory system calls back to fantasy RPGs. Players can equip amulets (mana), belts (health), and boots (movement) simply by collecting them. Reading scrolls improves base stats up to a maximum level of three while Runes grant an additional ability that can help with navigation or combat. The system is quick and simple to keep things light and avoid breaking the flow of the action.
The issue is that opportunities to find this loot are lacking. While games like Hyper Scape have complete buildings to explore, Spellbreak has ruins. All the ruins are dark gray colors and look very similar with chests barely standing out. Players are better off getting loot from defeated opponents whose drops will shine like a beacon against the dull lands.
The Final Say
Spellbreak has many interesting ideas, but struggles with presentation and execution. A battle royale between mages sounds great, with most of the work seeming to have gone into making the magic look good. However, work needs to be done on other aspects to compliment the magical visuals rather than simply highlighting them. It feels like a fast and straightforward experience for fantasy fans, which is why we’re awarding it a 6 out of 10. I hope Spellbreak improves on its interesting formula, but I’ll take a break from its spells for now.
Note: This review is based on personal experience with the PC version.