Circuit Breakers by Triverske an Excalibur Publishing is a top down arcade shooter straight from the 80’s. It boasts a retro look and couch co-op.
Every character in Circuit Breakers comes with a basic weapon at their disposal. For example, there’s a shotgun, machine gun, laser, and rocket launcher available from the beginning. There are also 6 unlockable characters with their own unique weapons. Destroying the enemy robots results in them dropping crystals that can then be picked up to increase the power of your character’s weapon. The shotgun will shoot wider and farther. The machine gun will shoot faster. If you don’t pick up a steady amount of crystals and continue to fire, the weapon will be downgraded. This forces the player to stay in the fray at all times. Taking damage will also cause your weapon to be downgraded. The weapons are all well balanced. However, the game does not make good use of the analog sticks. You can use either the sticks or the buttons on the controller which means you can only shoot in 8 directions. This limits the player, and seems strange for a game in 2017.
Circuit Breakers isn’t the first game in recent memory to have a retro style. The low pixel count helps it keep a smooth 60 frames per second and an abundance of bad guys to shoot. The level design isn’t anything to gawk at. The same boring, metallic rooms with variations of color, textures, and walls becomes tiresome.
Each room is a level that has a predefined number of enemy robots to take out until the player is able to continue to the next room. The rooms stay the same, but the order of robots is slightly different each time. Every 10 levels/rooms will have you facing a boss. The boss battles are a highlight of the game.
The presentation is good. There are no loading times so you can jump right into the action. The music sounds like an arcade version of an old 80’s classic rock song, and will be stuck in your head for hours. A brief second before a level starts the game gives the player the number of the level as well as a witty remark, that can result in a chuckle or two. There is a score attack mode, and the regular arcade mode. They’re mostly the same with the only real difference being that score attack mode is all about getting a high score.
It does make a difference which version of Circuit Breakers you choose to play. Both the PC and Xbox One can have up to 6 players at once. The PS4 version does put the controller’s light bar and speaker to good use. This is made even more apparent with more people in the room. The PS4’s share play is the only way to experience this game in co-op mode over the internet since there isn’t any matchmaking. However, the PS4 only supports up to 4 players at a time.
Circuit Breakers is fun, for a while. The retro looks don’t save it from its bad use of the analog sticks. Everything else about the game is just average. Nothing is done that really makes it stand out from the plethora of games in this genre. Thankfully, its low price tag means your wallet won’t be getting much thinner if you wish to give it a chance. All-in-all, Circuit Breakers is just average: 5 out of 10.
Here is the Circuit Breakers Console Announcement Trailer:
Circuit Breakers is available for PS4, PS4 Pro. PC on Steam and coming to Xbox One August 8, 2017.