There are many words that pair well with “random.” Anxiety. Surprise. Stress. Excitement. Unknown.
The PlayStation Mini game Breakquest Extra Evolution embodies all of the above, largely due to its concept. You control a shuttle that functions as a bumper for a ball destroying kaleidoscopic 2-D landscapes. When said landscape’s elements are obliterated, said level is complete. You fail said level if all balls break through your energy shields, the last lines of defense beyond your shuttle.
I pick up the concept in no time as I sit on a plane, thumbing my Vita. The man next to me is saying something … something about his layover.
“Yeah,” I mumble, my eyes still trained on the screen before me. Breakquest requires my complete attention, just like when I play pinball. I watch the tiny ball ping off neon lights and my shuttle, and through random physics and luck, I’m destroying most of the level’s landscape. And I’m racking up thousands of points.
I pause the game and look at my neighbor. “Sorry?”
“What other games do you play?”
He nods and mentions the high-octane nature of Call of Duty: Black Ops. In turn, I smile and pull out of my headphones. I decide that I’m rude for doing this, but Breakquest is intriguing. Like pinball, it’s easy to lose in a matter of seconds. A blink, a turn of the head, or even a cough, could cost a ball, and ultimately, a level. Maybe this challenge – reacting to random physics – is the reason I can play Breakquest for no more than 10 minutes at a time. The consent stimulation evolves from fun to eye fatigue, but until then I forget about my surrounding and lock into the game. I’m engaged.
I decide that being rude to my neighbor was a good idea. Headphones bring me closer to the game’s soundtrack, crafted by The Sands Band. It reminds me of the ambiance and compositions of Chemical Brothers and newer Radiohead, touching on electronica and house. A more danceable soundtrack would be cool, but as is, the band’s rather subdued work is a complement to Breakquest’s dynamic gameplay.
Sound and all, I go 10 levels without losing, and I end up at the second boss fight. The game has 10 boss fights among its 100 (count ‘em, 100!) levels. Whereas the previous levels pit you against said landscape’s elements, the boss fights pit you against moving monsters and the like, plus the elements. In Boss Fight #2, for instance, I break a tentacle-eyed gargantuan, Mr. Volcanos, whose lasers freeze the shuttle upon contact. The mister is guarded by stars and what seems like iron clouds. It’s an vibrant fight, and indeed a highlight of the game. In fact, I posit that the boss fights make the previous levels a little less exciting. The boss fights raise the challenge of the game, which lacks a diff
There is a redeeming quality of the regular levels, though. It’s the bonus weaponry. Drifting on screen from time to time are missiles, detonators, guns and more capable of destroying elements. They offer a nice respite from watching and reacting to a bouncing ball, but the downside is that they’re not available during boss fights.
So the boss gets lasers, but I don’t?
I stop at level 25 because my eyes are stringing and I remove my headphones. My neighbor’s asleep. Perhaps for another game, I would wake him.
BreakQuest: Extra Evolution is praiseworthy and flawed.
This review based on a copy of the game provided by the publisher.
About the Author:
Rich Shivener is the Lead Editor of Bit Creature. He is also a writer, instructor and iPad whisperer from the shores of Northern Kentucky. You can find him in Publishers Weekly and Writer's Digest, among other places.