Beast Breaker is a really strange game to try to talk about.
It first caught my eye because of the absolutely gorgeous illustration style. I didn’t even know what type of game it was, I just knew I wanted to see more of that art. Then I actually saw a screenshot of the gameplay screen and I was completely confused. Instead of looking like a grand, artistic adventure, it was just a weird, simple top-down drawing of a bunch of blocks covered in numbers.
Now that I’ve spent more time with it, I still think the transition in art styles is weird, but I adore the game. Beast Breaker is a charming story of a young mouse trying to protect the world around them, which plays out in turn-based, billiards-inspired combat. It’s dope and super, super weird.
Beast Breaker is a Story of Legacy
I don’t want to tell you much about the story of Beast Breaker, because it is surprisingly compelling for a game based on bouncing mechanics. For general background, this game takes place in a world where magic exists but has become scarce. Unfortunately, as magic has disappeared giant, horrific monsters have taken its place. Your character is the grandchild of a retired warrior, who takes up the family blade in response to a call from help.
The story goes from there, and you end up meeting a lot of interesting NPCs. Short, visual novel style cutscenes fill you in on the backstory of the characters and the world at large. There’s a real earnestness to your character’s drive to just do as much good as they can in the world, and that’s reflected in the tone through the rest of the story.
Without giving much away, it’s heartwarming, sweet, sometimes a little scary, and I love it!
I’ve never played a game that has combat quite like Beast Breaker before. At a high level, this is kind of a turn-based RPG. You’ve got a selection of attacks you can do that change depending on the gear you’ve got equipped. Some attacks just do damage, some give you defense, some apply debuffs to the enemy, some build up energy that you use for bigger attacks… You know, RPG stuff.
After you take a few actions, your enemy gets a turn. Their moves are pretty formulaic. You can see what attack they are going to do in advance, and you can also see how much health they’ll regenerate, and how many turns are remaining before they win based on a timer system. In short, the enemy won’t surprise you with what they do on their turn. Once they execute their turn, they reorient themselves on the battlefield, showing where they will attack next, and you go again.
Breaking the Beasts
Zooming in is where this game gets interesting because you aren’t just choosing an attack and executing. Instead, every attack has a range, which represents how far your character will run along a path. As they bounce off of obstacles, the effects of the attack happen. And instead of just wearing down an enemy’s health, you are attacking a giant monster by trying to hit specific parts of its body to destroy them.
Aiming a shot feels like setting up a shot in a pool game, and the way your character then bounces all over until their attacks range ends feels like a pinball. As you progress through the game you unlock different weapons with different behaviors and other shifts in the combat mechanics. This variety is nice, and the game encourages experimentation with bonus experience on new weapons.
Even if you trade out your sword for a bow, the aim and bounce mechanics stay pretty consistent. It’s unlike anything I’ve played before, but it’s really, really fun!
The mix of styles between the simplistic battle screen and beautifully illustrated character art in the still cutscenes is still weird to me. I get that the battle screen needs to be super easy to read, so a detailed art style might not sit quite as well there, but it feels strange. Weirdly, even with this simplistic style, I saw relatively frequent and substantial frame-rate drops in the battles. Thankfully, I am enjoying both the story and the gameplay enough that neither the disconnect in styles nor the framerate issues are keeping me from enjoying Beast Breaker a whole lot.
It’s hard to know who to recommend a turn-based, billiards-inspired RPG adventure about a mouse to, but if it’s for you I bet you can already tell.