When Colin Moriarty first announced his video game based on the basic block breaker concept, I was rather unenthusiastic about the idea. What can you possibly do to the basic gameplay of a block breaker game to make it more interesting than its counter parts? Well, Lillymo Games and CLS have struck a great balance of content, evolving gameplay, and an interesting world to revitalize my interest in the genre.
In the year 2311, Earth has gone through radical changes. For one, the United States abstained from a war for once. This leads to the United States focusing more on science and space exploration while other countries nuke it out until all is lost on the other side of the world. The United States becomes a prosperous country once again. With a huge budget, NASA is able to colonize planets and moons within our solar system. However, this isn’t enough. In a bold move, NASA created a ship, called Generational Ships, to help explore the universe and hopefully find more worlds to colonize. Because of some technological constraints, NASA isn’t able to receive transmissions from these ships after a certain point. This uncertainty is not a welcoming feeling for everyone involved. A random wormhole shows up in the solar system, and it must be checked out. This leads us to the main path of the story where two pilots, Colin and Chris, venture into the wormhole to relay information to NASA.
Colin and Chris set off in their ships, Greetings and Salutations, that are attached with a weapon called a bouncer. These bouncer reflects a ball and the player must break the blocks in order to progress. It sounds simple right? The twist in this game is that each thumb controls a bouncer. I’ve never played a block breaker game that ever had you control two things at one time. Luckily, Lillymo Games understands that this concept might be a little bit more difficult to grasp than the normal block breaker game. They made the levels simple in the beginning of the game to give the players time to become familiar with the new concept.
The campaign features 40 levels, with each one getting more difficult than the last. Periodically, players will face a “boss” that helps break up the normal routine of the game. When I first saw there were bosses in the game, I thought to myself, “Well there’s no way that’ll be fun.” To my surprise, I really enjoyed each and everyone of the bosses I had to face. Once you get through each boss stage, a new gameplay element is introduced that can throw you off your game. Initially, the two ships you control are on the bottom of the screen and move horizontally. Next, it shifts you to the sides of the screen and you control them vertically. The third time makes you control 4 total ships, 2 on the sides and 2 at the bottom. My gosh did this make things hectic. It’s something you’ll have to play for yourself to understand. Having one analog stick control two ships in a horizontal and vertical direction can be insanely hard at times, but I loved it! Not only does it make things challenging, but it just keeps you on your toes the whole time. I honestly thought at one point that Lillymo Games were going to be insane enough to make me control a ship on each side of the screen. Rest assured, they don’t ever get that crazy and at most you’ll be controlling four ships.
There’s a whole lot more to this game than just controlling ships. There are plenty of power ups to be aware of and knowing what power ups to avoid or catch can make a world of a difference. The power ups include making the ball go slower or faster, growing or shrinking the ships, and so on. It’s nothing unusual for a block breaker game, and the player will quickly figure out what the benefits for each symbol are. If for some reason you can’t figure it out, there’s a handy “cheat sheet” for the players in the pause menu.
There is one more gameplay element that was an absolute game changer for me. In Twin Breaker, you can project your ship forward to try to hit the ball. You can only project your ship after you fill up a meter for each specific ship, and you’ll have to refill it before you can use it again. The projection doesn’t make your ship leave the usual sides of the screen, but it sends a ghost like ship that can touch the ball, destroy incoming threats, or even blow up certain blocks that have a target on them. This leads to a ton of possibilities within the game. You’ll feel like a badass if you can time your projection right to “correct” the course of the ball to hit that last brick. If you can perfect this ability, then you should have no problem getting a high score for each level.
There are a few of things I didn’t necessarily love about the gameplay. I wish there was a little less randomness in the power ups, because it can make a huge difference in your score for the level. I think it would have been better having a set of power ups for each level, but randomizing the blocks they are in. That way there is still something spontaneous in the level, but you get to also know what you need to look out for. Also, there can be enemy scarabs that appear from breaking a block. To get rid of them, you can either let them dive past you or use your projection to destroy them. Sometimes these scarabs come out on the first block you break. If this happens, you typically don’t have a projection ready and will have to let them pass you. This causes you to miss out on 100 points and can cause you to miss the ball. I would have liked to seen these scarabs been timed out and just come from one side of the screen instead of the bricks themselves.
Speaking of scores, each level has a ranking based on what your score is for the level. You get points for virtually everything in the game. So you’ll want to get as many power ups, destroy as many enemies, and lose the least amount of health as you can. You really only need to complete the level to progress the game forward, but the best part of the story comes from the collectibles. You’ll have to receive a ranking of at least “A” to get the collectibles. There are some levels I struggled with, but it’s not that hard to achieve and everyone should be able to get an “A” ranking or higher within a few tries.
The collectibles offer you a deeper insight in this fictional world created by Colin. Each collectible left me wanting to know more about the world. You’ll get a wide range of perspectives and information with each one. One collectible may go on about what the Catholic church feels about space exploration and another may be from the perspective from a passenger on a Generational Ship. The variety is wonderful and all of these collectibles were well thought out. I’d love to talk more about them, but I’d rather not spoil the experience for anyone else.
Once again, I don’t want to spoil anything for anyone, but I didn’t find the main path story to hook me all that much. It’s not that I think it’s bad. It’s a fine story, but it just didn’t offer the same depth as the collectibles. I often found the dialog a tad generic and didn’t feel like it was as imaginative as the opening scene or the collectibles.
When you are done with the main campaign there are a plethora of options to play. There’s a new game plus that makes the levels slightly harder and gives the campaign a fresh coat of paint. Players can also go to the other various modes such as shooter mode, catcher mode, pong mode, marathon mode, random mode, and boss rush mode. You can probably tell what you must do for each of these modes by just looking at the name, but each one is unique from one another and can offer hours of additional play time. My favorite of the bunch is the pong mode. I found it strangely addicting to play pong against different bosses and trying to beat them to a score of 3 to proceed on to the next level. The other modes are fun as well, and I think other players will find the other modes to be as addicting as I found the pong mode.
For you trophy hunters out there, I am pleased to tell you the trophies are both fun and attainable. There isn’t one trophy you just dread getting. Even something like missing 500 power ups can be easily attained by going to catcher mode and just missing everything in sight. The list is completely fair and definitely one of the better lists out there. Lillymo Games was nice enough to put a tracker in the game to let you know how close you are to each trophy. My only suggestion for Colin would have been to have a couple of trophies entail ending a level with some of the power ups like the multi-ball or finish a certain amount of levels without losing health. Regardless, most of these trophies will come naturally from playing the game, and I don’t think anyone will have a problem getting the platinum if they want it. I would like to note that I ran into a trophy glitch, but Lillymo Games was quick to respond and it is fixed for everyone.
All in all, this a fun game with quite a bit of content for just 10 dollars. I thoroughly enjoyed my experience and it’s a game you can just pick up and play for 10 to 15 minutes if you want a break from something else. It’s one of those games that I’ll play when I get bored from something else I’m doing and just dabble into of the various game modes. While it may be a block breaker game, it really is a complete package. The gameplay is well thought out, there are different modes to keep the game feeling fresh, and the universe Colin set up is quite fascinating. The collaboration between Lillymo Games and CLS couldn’t have been more perfect. I’m excited to see what the future holds for both companies and if we will get a continuation of the Twin Breaker saga or move into another genre.