Insanity. The same thing. Again and again.
Repetition leads to perfection. Perfection of craft, of genre and life itself. You cannot say you succeeded without trying more than once, that’s just a passage of life. Gaming has seen this exact same principle, with its solitary exception being Tetris because, it’s Tetris after all. The twin-stick shooter has seen many attempts at unparalleled perfection, with Geometry Wars, Smash TV, the recently released Iron Crypticle, all of these are close but no cigar. What’s my point? Circuit Breakers probably brings us one step closer.
Circuit Breakers comes to us from Triverske, a Dallas-based developer who’ve only worked on one other game, Ultimate Arena. A simulation where Steve Jobs can take on George Washington, and cue silence. Here though, Triverske pushed through a troubled development time until finally, Circuit Breakers slowly slipped through the cracks on PC, PS4 and finally, Xbox One. A delayed game is eventually good, in the words of Miyamoto.
Story is not exactly on Triverskes’ list of priorities, as you’re thrust right into the action before you even get your bearings. Instead, the main objective of Circuit Breaker is to polish the twin stick shooter with the cleanest rag it had available. You choose your character and off you go, in to the fray with no context or reasoning. Every choice has their own single special weapon, the machine gun, shotgun and rocket launcher, so every character plays differently.
From there, you collect “Energium”, a resource that the robots drop after death, which power up your gun and shield at the same time. Meaning you have to manage how efficiently you use it, which flows quite well with gameplay. You set yourself into a rhythm of bullet dodging and sponging until you no longer feel bad about the stakes you’re up against.
Circuit Breakers is the definition of “proof of concept”. You’re thrust right into the action, and from then on out, it’s non-stop. Bullets, metal and shrapnel will fly from the start and it will not stop. The bullet density and amount of enemies on-screen at once reach levels only seen in bullet-hells and DOOM WADs, respectively. It’s insane.
That is all this game is. Insanity. Until your player character ceases to move and dies, you will not stop shooting. Drones and droning noises will seared into your brain with your time in this game. The music and your own thoughts will be drowned out by bodies hitting the floor, and you know what? It’s bloody glorious.
Stupidity is essential to life, I believe, and this game is as stupid as it gets. It grabs the ball and runs with it, unaware of every obstacle it might meet along the way. And the only hurdle Circuit Breakers needs to cross is the longevity of its’ relevance. Well, yes and no. It’s pretty hard to explain.
For all that Circuit Breakers does right, the streak it goes on isn’t particularly long. The gameplay is punchy, cathartic, hilarious and straightforward, but that’s pretty much all it can back on. The gameplay. The music is basically non-existent beyond the endless wall of noise you’ll create, bosses are literally just boxes fused together, and graphics aren’t exactly pressing due to the intensity of what’s going on.
Enemies show a bit more variety than the bosses, but I believe most of that variety is focused on the quips in the loading screens. Between every room transition, Triverske add a small line of text, which can range from a quick joke, to a Bane-posting meme. They’re funny but they run out of chutzpah faster than they come at you, unless you immerse yourself in the blatant self-aware humor that Circuit Breakers drowns itself in.
And that’s that. While Triverske have perfected the formula for an almost-perfect twin stick shooter, they don’t really add much else, which is a shame because I wanted to like this game. It does nearly everything right, but the list of its accomplishments is minuscule in nature. While it’s a budget indie title, with it’s price tag being around $10, there are other twin sticks which offer you more for less.
The seminal Geometry Wars, the recent amazement of Iron Crypticle, the magnum opus of Neurovoider. These are the titles you have to beat, in my eyes, and Circuit Breakers has the brawn but not the brains. It’s a step towards greatness, however, Triverske shows passion for silliness and wants to return to a time where we could just turn on the game and blow stuff away. Good luck to that.
An incredibly stupid blast of fun in the best ways possible.