In a gaming industry that is already overly saturated with games carrying the ‘battle royale’ tag, its hard to find a gem in the rough, especially when you’re looking for something to play other than Fortnite or Call of Duty: Warzone. However, I believe I have found that gem.
Spellbreak, developed by Proletariat, Inc., is another battle royale title that puts a rather tasteful and unique spin on how a battle royale game should be played. Instead of focusing on gunplay and trickshotting, it focuses on spellcasting with devastating elemental combos.
While this is a battle royale, which means unfortunately that there isn’t a playable story to be found, there is plenty of lore. The lore in the game can be read in a journal written by a Vowkeeper named Garrick Sagemark, during an apocalyptic event known as ‘The Fracture.’
Garrick Sagemark was performing intensive research in Dawnholm before the Fracture turned what was known as the Highlands to the now unforgiving Hollow Lands. He worked with a young woman named Hope, where they investigated ancient texts for hints about the ancient past.
During the Fracture, which was an event that caused the land to shatter and resulted in a dangerous spellstorm, Garrick recorded his experience of the immediate aftermath, as well as some of the details around the exact effects of the Spellstorm. The exact cause remains unknown, however, popular opinion holds that a Breaker, or perhaps all Breakers, are responsible.
When the danger grew too great and people started to return from the wreckage transformed, Garrick fled from Dawnholm with the first groups of refugees to Longwatch. Garrick and the other Vowkeepers now work at Longwatch, chronicling the changes brought on The Fracture, as well as searching for a way to “contain the heresy”.
Garrick has recently resorted to using Breaker’s (the players) to bring him more information about the state of the Hollow Lands, along with historical writings that were left behind. The Breakers enter the Hollow Lands to search for magical items and powerful glyphs. Garrick only asks for those scrolls that provide the Breaker’s little use. but contain a great deal of information for Garrick.
The Breaker’s are using these opportunities to search for clues as to what caused the Fracture in an effort to try and prove their innocence in causing the event. Avira Emberdane, the commander of the Vowbreakers, however, believes that the best way prove their innocence, is to study and eventually stop the Spellstorm.
Through Blackthorn, a former Bogmore Collective agent, the player learns that the Collective has uncovered something about the Spellstorm. After locating and decoding a number of documents, the player delivers the information to Avira’s scholars, led by Quincy Poisewax.
They find no mention of the Spellstorm. Instead, the documents all refer to the Aegis Towers, ancient constructs originally designed to protect the Five Kingdoms against Spelltides. The Order of the Vowbreakers decides to investigate the Aegis Towers further. When the player interacts with the ruins of the Towers, there is a definite magical reaction.
In his research, Quincy Poisewax finds mention of an ancient order of scholars known as the Tideseers, who worked in the Aegis Towers. Their name suggests that they might have played a role in predicting Spelltides, though what they did exactly remains a matter of speculation.
Quincy asks the player to recover old research files of the Tideseers, which reveal much about the Aegis Towers. They seem to have functioned as something like lightning rods: absorbing the magical energy of the Spelltides and dispersing it safely.
There is much more lore I could go into and speak about, but I think it’s best to leave some mystery for you all to find yourselves.
I do like that there is lore behind the game, and somewhat rather deep lore at that. However, where it falters is that you don’t read this lore in game, you have to go to the developers media accounts or even fan pages to get the lore that you need, which makes learning about the game a hassle, and made writing this part of the article a hassle as well.
As said in the intro, the gameplay is much more centred around spellcasting and elemental combos, rather than gunplay, trickshotting, and building towers like a sweaty sock. Before you queue for a game, you are prompted to select an elemental gauntlet, with your choices being Fire, Ice, Wind, Earth, Poison, and Lightning.
As you start playing, like every other battle royale, you will find chests which have items that will help you take out other players. These items include offhand gauntlets or runestones, which give you an abilities that range from invisibility to flight, which enables you to fly around the map.
Where the gameplay really starts is when you are able to use both your gauntlets and your runestone together, if you have the correct gauntlets you can perform powerful and decimating elemental combos, like a fire tornado when using a wind and fire gauntlet in conjunction with one another, for example.
A downside to some of the gauntlets however, is that in the case of gauntlets like Stoneshaper, which has no combo whatsoever with other gauntlets. This gauntlet is something that counters the others, like fire and ice, which can make the game harder for yourself, because you can cancel out your own attacks.
Another base ability that you have is the ability to glide or hover. You can really use this to your advantage and get the ‘high ground’, if you will. However, using this uses up mana, which you also need to use your gauntlets, so you’ll need to make sure you don’t spam your abilities too much or hover too long.
Alongside the battle royale mode, there is a team deathmatch mode for those who don’t like battle royale, where nine players on each team are stacked against each other. It doesn’t have a whole lot of differences to the battle royale mode, if at all.
The graphics are something I am personally in love with. The game has a very distinct art style that oozes personality, and honestly reminds me a lot of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Everything in the game is vibrant, from spells, to the map, to even your character.
The game isn’t very demanding either, after all I’m running the game on ultra with an AMD RX-580, purely because scalpers won’t let me get my RTX 3080, and you get a pretty good looking title with how little juice it takes to run it. It’s not eye-candy of course, but it by no means hurts to look at.
Music & Audio
A solid and consistent soundtrack is pretty much non-existent in the game, which is both a positive and a negative at the same time. While not having any sort of music during gameplay completely removes some very much needed feel to the game, it also helps because that way you can hear battles happening off in the distance, along with footsteps and pings.
The sound foley is well designed, as mentioned there are the sound of footsteps, and you can hear battles in the distance, which adds an extra level of strategic value to the game that you wouldn’t expect from a game about extravagant magic spells and explosions.
As with every other free to play game, companies have to make their money somehow, so of course there is a cash shop in the game where you can get cosmetics, badges, nameplates, and a battle pass. While a bit pricey, there is also a starter pack that gives you a skin and other cosmetics for $4.99.
The battle pass works like every other battle pass in the free to play world, where you play the game and unlock items the more you play the title. However, not everything has to be paid for in the cash shop.
The more you play the game and progress, the more you earn Spellbreak’s premium currency, which is honestly refreshing considering most games don’t reward you for gameplay nowadays. The more you level, and the better you play, the more coins you get, and that’s a good thing at least to me.
The game itself is well thought out in terms of gameplay. The story is mostly non existent in the game itself, and instead you have to rely on outside sources. Graphics are stylish and look as though they belong.
The audio is well made, and adds to the game well, but the lack of music in-game is a bit of a downside. Microtransactions are bit expensive, but you do have the ability to earn premium currency by playing. All in all, the game is a good title with few hiccups that I feel could be improved.
Spellbreak is available as a free to play game on pretty much any platform except mobile, that means PC through Steam and Epic Games, Xbox One/XSX/S, PlayStation 4/5, and Nintendo Switch. The screenshots used in this review were taken on PC via Steam.
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