Battle Royale games aren’t my thing. I’ve never won a coveted chicken dinner, neither in real life nor in PUBG. I tried my hand at Call of Duty: Warzone and get my booty whooped so hard, the game auto-uninstalled out of shame. And Fortnite… well, I’m a grown man with some self-respect, so, no.
So why on Earth did I play Spellbreak? The simple answer is: nobody else could do it, so I got lumped with review duties and once again I’ve come out the other side quite surprised to find myself enjoying something I thought I’d hate.
Spellbreak isn’t your typical Battle Royale game. OK, it does have you dropping into a massive map as teams of three, and you do have to scrounge around for resources to bulk up your arsenal and armour, but it does enough to set itself apart from the current run of military-themed Battle Royale games/interactive adverts, that it felt like a truly fresh take on a relatively new, yet already stale genre.
Rather than having you drop into a massive map in your underpants and then scrounging around for guns, you’re dropped in as a magical mage and you already have a weapon: your gauntlet. Gauntlets are your main weapons and you can trade them off for others that are found in the game’s wonderfully colourful and large map, which itself is another story.
The game’s map is huge and split into different biomes, with each one taking a theme; desert, snow, ruined castles, and so on. It’s a gorgeous world and I was immediately impressed with the scope. It’s pretty, too, and while it does take clear inspiration from Link’s latest adventure in Hyrule, it’s still very much its own thing. More on that later though.
The key to success is finding the right stuff that works for you. There are several elemental power to choose from, so before you start the match you can pick yours, depending on your playstyle. Don’t be worried if no particular one stands out, as experimentation is encouraged because no single elemental power is really better than the other. It’s what you do when you find more of them.
Combining powers is the best way to deal bigger damage. Finding other gauntlets means you can have two elemental powers at the same time, and you can combine their attacks with devastating effects. Take the Toxic gauntlet, fire a cloud of noxious gas, and then hit it with the Flame gauntlet attack and you’ve got yourself an explosive recipe. Cool stuff indeed, and it’s good fun to mix things up and see what works best, though you must remember, the other players are doing this too, and may counter your attacks with their own combos.
Runes are perhaps my favourite part of this weird Battle Royale game. Runes can be found and used to give you extra powers. You can only have one Rune active at a time, and it’s all luck of the draw as to what you find scattered around the map. These perks are on a cooldown timer so you don’t abuse them, which is a massive shame as I loved flying around, even if it was only for a few seconds at a time. But on the other hand, do you really want dickheads like me flying around, or other players being invisible for the entire game? No. Not at all. Still, I can see the potential for other game modes in the future where Runes are more central, but that’s just me.
The moment to moment gameplay is fast and fun. Instead of 100 players, there’s only 42, and despite the map being quite big, I wasn’t very far from the action most of the time. Naturally, the conflicts become more frequent as the storm closes and shrinks the play area, and here is when things could get hectic. In the heat of battle with all kinds of elemental attacks turning the air every which colour, I’d lose myself and start throwing out random attacks. It got me a few kills, so it’s not a totally bogus tactic.
The game opens up with a tutorial that I do recommend playing through. It teaches you the basics about combat, magic, and everything else required to give you a fighting chance in battle. It’s weird though. The game takes obvious inspiration from Breath of the Wild – not a bad thing, and it’s actually really pretty in motion – and I found myself wondering what this game would be if it wasn’t a multiplayer game. Like, what if it was a single-player story where you’re using these awesome powers in this beautiful world? We may never know, but the game is completely free to play (with in-game purchases) so you’re free to make your own stories on the battlefield with friends or strangers. Or just spam the ping button like I do…
Spellbreak PS4 Review
Overall - Fantastic - 8/10
Spellbreak is an exceptional game, and given that’s it’s free-to-play, there really isn’t any reason why you shouldn’t give this a go for yourself. It’s Battle Royale, but with a nerd-friendly twist and a world that I actually want to explore. If only that storm would go away…
- Fast, fun, and fair combat system with added depth via combos
- A gorgeous looking world that befits the magical themes
- Amazing music
- No obnoxious ‘dab’ emotes
- I’d love to see this world in a single-player setting 🙁
- Ping system is open to abuse (by idiots like me)
Review Disclaimer: This review was carried out using a paid-content code provided by the publisher. For more information, please read our Review Policy.
Reviewed using PS4 Pro.