The Nardio Review
Contra + Diablo + PSO + had a 2D baby
Is StarBreak Worth Your Time?
I’m going to gush here.
How it Plays and Why it Works:
One of my faraway friends mentioned an endless platformer that was part MMO and Diablo called Starbreak. I was curious so I checked it out. Days later I find myself with that unending one more game longing that usually means I am hooked…
Starbreak is a sort of mix between Contra + Diablo + Phantasy Star Online.
Contra for its fast and skill based gameplay.
Diablo for its randomized levels and never ending loot race.
PSO for its look and art style, even a bit of it’s classes if it were masterfully translated to 2D.
Starbreak is a perma death MMO platformer. What that means is you lose all your items and progression each time you die except for some basic “levels” that only unlock other characters. Now, you can store some items in a small bank, but if you are carrying your best gear and you die? Well it’s time to farm some new gear.
As you play you are also able to acquire stat boots and power ups that make your character considerably stronger. Those are also lost when you die. When things get overwhelming in game you can tap the escape button and you will be transported back to your home base. Learning when to quit and teleport out is the hardest lesson of Starbreak, but teleportation out is not immediate. There is a ten second timer. This might seem light a short amount of time when you’re in a relatively quiet in a cleared out area. But during a doomed boss encounter those ten seconds feel like a tense eternity.
Normally I hate permadeath experiences, but Starbreak manages to keep me entertained and, even more important, hopelessly addicted. I think this has to do with the skill based gameplay tied to the progression system.
I am good at action platformers like Contra, Castlevania, and even this game. So when I die, I know most of the time it was my own fault for carelessness. I can do better. I will do better. This is on my mind every single time I play and succeed for a good stretch. There are even four simple rules that I try to adhere to as I play Starbreak:
Play it safe.
Don’t get greedy.
Know when to quit.
In theory this is all I need to survive. I had a shell (player character) survive 3 whole days this way. Unfortunately, the longer I played the easier it was to get sloppy, careless and greedy. When that happened I discovered the pain of real defeat knowing for the most part it was my own fault. Sure there is always more to learn and explore. At times death came as I learned a harsh enemy mechanic. Times like these can feel incredibly cheap, but I learned. Knowing what to avoid next time makes me want to get to that point again so I can surpass my previous failure, kill that cheap enemy, and crush that next boss.
Starbreak is amazing for players who are addicted to progression. Raising your base stats and soon being able to solo or duo that tough boss you couldn’t touch before is satisfying. All the while there’s that understanding that I could lose it all if I got sloppy. It made me appreciate my new found power even more.
In the back of my head I want to be powerful enough to solo the game. Is that possible? Is it? I mean there is a hard limit to the stats. In theory I will hit a power wall. Also this is an MMO, so it may be impossible, but still. I want it.
Starbreak has four classes to play. An all around class with decent range meant for new players called a Wildfire. This is the default class that all players start with. So far I absolutely love it. I think this will be my main character.
Duskwing is a powerful melee like character. It excels in maneuverability but has a very low HP. It’s also tricky to control in my opinion. I honestly don’t care for it. Using the Duskwing feels too precise to be used in this game during large group encounters. You need to be able to see everything on screen to know how to move properly, but with a lot of players around it seems like an impossible class to master. That said I do see players using it so maybe I just suck?
The Ironclad is an in your face tank melee class with long reach and high armor and HP. I just unlocked this class and it’s interesting. It really does change the entire way the game is played. You move and attack slower. But you are also the shield for the group. It’s an interesting play style that I am not to sure I like, at least not yet. Once I have some more time I will try and dive into this class. Also I need to buy more storage. (More on that later.)
The final playable class is called the Fabricator. It’s a long range sniping class with low HP. It has support capabilities and can be very powerful at a distance. This also sounds interesting.
With this many playable classes I can see myself spending a lot of time in the world of Starbreak. The controls are tight and responsive. The gameplay has a nice amount of straight up action and war and equal parts enemy hunting. That and the constant gear hunting makes Starbreak a fast paced game. The procedurally generated worlds are flat out amazing. I love how different they are from each other. The level designers really did a heck of a job making sure players never get bored.
What is really interesting is the group dynamic of Starbreak. It sort of reminds me of Diablo parties hunting down rares and fresh gear. At times, the number of teammates is too much. It’s more like The Timeless Isle in World of Warcraft back when it was popular. Sure you are almost immortal for a while thanks to the player horde all around you, but there is a cost! You find when the game is full of players you lose track of your character. That said there is something about running through levels surrounded by allies that makes you feel empowered. We are the horde! We are tearing through the level!
It’s great to know you are all working together for a common good. It’s times like this where I found the community tends to work together, besides a few outliers, players use emotes to call out when a health is dropped or chat out when they find a secret. This sort of behavior helps everyone survive longer. The game feels like a MMO when it’s at its best. Of course this sort of horde can cause players to get reckless and not pay attention. It’s harder to see attacks as well when the screen is full of players. This is the beauty of Starbreak. Even when you are surrounded by allies you aren’t safe. I’ve been a part of huge group wipes as many times as I have been a part of victorious player hordes dominating bosses.
Starbreak is a Freemium MMO, with that comes limitations, the first and foremost is the lack of storage. Players have a pitifully small inventory. Sadly there is yet no way to earn or pay for a larger bag. Honestly, I would gladly pay to triple my carrying storage permanently. Please Crunchy Games make that happen.
The next sort of storage that is in Starbreak is in the player base. You have a sort of general stash that is just as small as the player storage. It you would like to buy more stashes they run for about $5.oo each. You can also buy individual storage for class specific closets to hold what you are wearing so that you can play a different class without dying. This feels pretty much mandatory if you want to try or switch to a new class without losing your player progress. This feature runs about $10.00. These purchases are all done with a special in game currency that you buy for real money. I can honestly see myself spending $20.00 this weekend so that I can get two player class (shell) storage and extra general stash. If you would like to make sure you have the additional space to really try all the classes, I think the $50.00 credit purchase makes the most sense.
Is it worth spending money in Starbreak?
Yes. Yes it is. At least for me. But you don’t need to, you can pretty much get everything out of the game totally free. My problem with the micro transactions so far is that they aren’t good enough in my opinion. I’d like permanent transmogs to help me stand out from the crowd. I’d like to buy a much bigger carrying bag.
This might disrupt the balance of the game so this would be appreciated: I’d love to be able to buy a permanent starting weapon. Maybe make it the best that I’ve found yet. Whenever I find a better weapon, if I make it back to my base and use the store feature then it could become my default. Just the weapon…please?
I’d like it if other players were somewhat less prominent on screen. Maybe have it where my player character used a much brighter color like red and the rest of the players appeared white on my screen. This would really help in keeping track of where I am. As is, it is too easy to lose myself in the crowd. Also please, please do something about jerk players spamming emotes. It’s just more unneeded screen clutter. Some enemies are just too hard to see in some levels before they land a cheap hit. Having a lot of on screen clutter such as Fabricator attacks flying around make things a lot more difficult and honestly kind of cheap.
I would love it, absolutely love it, if Starbreak had a better in game tutorial and explanation on what’s going on. I love that the website leads to the Wiki, but there needs to be more to keep new players, playing. I really worry about Starbreak keeping new players thanks to the lack of information available in game.
Starbreak is an MMO that works almost perfectly with very limited player interaction, but I would love it if I could group up with my friends. Or at least be able to tell who my friend is in the player hordes that ravage through the stages.
I love Starbreak. I am honestly very, very addicted to this game and really, genuinely hope it succeeds and catches on. Sure there is a small no like section, sure it’s not perfect, but I love it. I do plan on making in app purchases soon, not only to boost my inventory, but to support this talented game development company. Crunchy Games knocked it out of the park with Starbreak. Starbreak’s gameplay is fast, fresh, addictive, engrossing, skill based fun. The world is amazing. The bosses are batshit crazy and I hate them. That said whenever a group is ready for one I gladly go in to face them. Every single time I am about to face a boss with a room full of other eager players I can’t help but think of the line from Gladiator:
We who are about to die salute you!
Look at that innocent hope below:
I haven’t fallen in love with a game this hard in a long while. Knowing it has several levels that I have yet to touch, weapons yet to be owned and bosses yet to be killed has me giddy. I wake up in the morning and I want to play Starbreak. I need to go to bed and I am playing Starbreak.
Crunchy Games, you have created a masterpiece.
GET THIS GAME!
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Read our other App Reviews
- Free with in-game purchases
- Web based version or Steam downloadable game
- Lots of replay