While the concept of Battle Royale games is simple at its core, there is a game that tries (or tried) to put a new twist on a working formula. For better or worse, Spellbreak is a complex, thrilling but unrecognized game.
I am not a huge Battle Royale fan. They are fun for a while, they are rewarding, but I am more of a single player game guy. However Spellbreak nailed me to my couch for several days in a row, wanting to get better in it.
You’re a battlemage Harry
The base of Spellbreak is the same as most BR games. Random players or squads are thrown onto a huge map, where they have to collect loot and eliminate every opposing player. The map is gradually shrinking as a storm is closing in. In the end only the luckiest and most cunning players remain in the last circle.
However in Spellbreak your weapon is not a gun or pickaxe. You use spells and sorcery to survive and annihilate.
At the beginning of every match, you choose an element that will be your main mastery. Ice, lightning, toxic, fire, wind, or stone. Each of them have very different spells. Ice is using crowd control and it is the equivalent of a sniper with its ice lance. Toxic is using DOT damage and AOE spells, stone is using closer quarter combat.
Where Spellbreak really shines and stands out is the combination of different schools of magic.
After landing on the map, you need to loot to have better chances at survival. While in other games you loot different guns, here you can equip different gauntlets. Each gauntlet gives you the ability to harness the power of an element. So maybe you started as a fire mage, but as a secondary skillset you can pick up stone (or any other) mastery.
And here comes the real catch of the game.
For example you cast a firewall with your main class, then hurl a boulder through it with your secondary spells. The result is a fiery meteor that explodes in flames upon impact.
Fire and poison? Exploding clouds. Lightning and air? An electric hurricane. And the list goes on.
In addition you can combine your spells not only between your classes, but you can explode the opponent’s toxic cloud as well as your teammate’s. The combinations are countless and confusing at the beginning, but once mastered, you can become a living weapon.
Mobility is key
Another twist in Spellbreak is the verticality of its battles.
That’s the fancy way of saying that you can fly! When holding down the jump button, you can boost the jump height. Or you can hover while falling. In addition to this, you can find different runes on the map that ca increase your mobility.
Some runes make you run faster and see the outlines of nearby enemy mages. Others can make you invisible, but my favourite is the one that launches you out like Neo in The Matrix, soaring over the map.
Of course the battles don’t stop once you are airborne. You can still shoot fireballs, and hurl rocks at your enemies. In fact you are encouraged to do so, as the most skilled players are always on the move, becoming a harder to hit target.
An underrated gem
Despite all the amazing things in this game, you don’t hear much about it. I also only found out about it from a colleague of mine. But why?
On one hand, what makes Spellbreak amazing is also its downfall. It is simply too hard sometimes. And this is not only my opinion. With a quick Google search you can find a lot of people complaining about its steep learning curve.
You see, in order to be good at this game, you need to manage and combine 4 different spells (a primary and secondary spell on each gauntlet), and since everyone is flying around, you have to fend off enemies in a 360 degrees sphere.
I am not saying that challenge is bad, but many players are discouraged by it. Some players are very skilled in this game and will easily destroy a new or less experienced mage.
In comparison, in the last few days I played a bit of Fortnite to check it out on my PS5. Even if I am not good at these games, I bagged several Victory Royales in solo. In Spellbreak I have never won. It can be simply too overwhelming and dizzying with all the flying around.
The difficulty of the game is mixed with a lack of advertising. This results in a low player count. It became harder to get in matches.
Today when I played a bit on PlayStation 5, it took up to 2 minutes to get in a solo match with 41 other players. And imagine waiting all this time, just to get rekt in seconds if you landed in the wrong spot.
In the end, Spellbreak became kind of dead. Which is unfortunate, because I really like it and I think it is a great concept. Way smarter and more complex than the flagship Battle Royale games. Of course I am not burying it yet. There are players, and maybe one day it will get picked up by the Internet.
Give it a go!
Spellbreak is a free-to-play game. You can play it on XBox, PlayStation, PC and even Switch. Of course it has microtransactions, but they are only cosmetic and completely optional.
The art style is great, I really like the colourful fantasy world of the game.
While indeed the game is difficult a bit, it is very rewarding. You feel like a god getting out of battles victorious.
I really recommend trying it out at least, it is a complex, interesting and action packed iteration of the Battle Royale genre. I really hope it will eventually receive the popularity it deserves.
Have you tried Spellbreak before? Was it fun or frustrating? Let me know in the comments, and if you liked this post, please consider following me.