With purposely designed chunky PSOne-style polygons, Breakneck City is a retro low-poly beat’em up carrying a 90s vibe. Even with a few blemishes, this game is a quality throwback to simpler times.
Instead of saving your girlfriend from an angry gang, two female bruisers take to the streets to seek revenge on arsonists. The plot is just as ridiculous as the intentionally designed visuals but features some out of place adult language that is unforgivably jarring for such a parody title.
This brawler can easily be compared to classics like Final Fight or Streets of Rage but with a few key differences. First, this is a 3D polygon-based title so both the player and enemies can move and fight from all angles. Even after playing through the first few stages, I had a hard time adjusting to being able to throw punches from any direction, not just left and right. This is by no means a fault of the game, and actually deserves credit for allowing such freedom to the combat. Old time players who grew up playing games like the TMNT Arcade Game will need some time to wrap your head around the liberating all directional combat. Also, the player can constantly dash when using the right analog stick, a feature that is so awesome I wish all future brawlers use it.
In additional to being able to fight at all angles, environments are also interactive. In my stream embedded here, I managed to knock a bad guy into a dumpster, essentially resulting in a one hit kill. It is possible to push enemies off ledges and send them to their demise. One enemy in particular provides the most challenge as this beast blocks all incoming attacks. The only way to cause damage is to smack him against a wall, use an item, or push him into other environmental hazards like a steam pipe. Sometimes these special attacks, like swinging on a pole, can be loose or random but they always provide comical fanfare and advantageous offensive capabilities.
There are a total of six stages which takes about an hour to complete. Thankfully, players can restart at any completed stage from the main menu and the campaign is available in two player local co-op. Checkpoints are also never too far away so dying, like I did several times in my stream, only sets the player back momentarily and always respawns the player right at the boss when falling in each stage’s ending battle. So it might look and even play like an old school beat’em up but there are some modern quality of life features that make this experience enjoyable.
The stand out feature are the low poly visuals. Although they are not exactly like an original Playstation game, they provide that nostalgic feeling, one that is really appreciated in an era of high definition. Personally, I really enjoy this purposely designed low res look but I have one somewhat minor complaint. At times, the camera doesn’t pan or zoom in the ideal direction. Referring to my stream, I actually got stuck (in a linear game where you just walk to the right) because the camera didn’t tilt to the right enough. Through luck, I just so happen to walk through a doorway I didn’t know was there because the camera didn’t pan enough. The soundtrack is also quiet and doesn’t add much to the overall retro experience either.
This is a side scrolling brawler so repetition can rear its head after a couple stages as the player is essentially just button mashing against the same few enemies. With that, this game is best played a couple stages at a time but co-op players can pummel their way through to the end faster. It isn’t the best beat’up ever made but it is definitely one that put the biggest smile on my face in recent memory.
Also available on Switch, PS4, PS5, and XSX.
Also Play: Say No! More.
Don’t Forget About: 3D Dot Heroes (PS3)
Wait For It: a port or re-release of Retro Game Challenge (DS)