Breakneck Review
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Breakneck Review

Our Review by Campbell Bird on September 8th, 2015
Rating: starstarstarblankstarblankstar :: SPEEDY RUNNER
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This racing game has a great sense of speed and unique mechanics, but its free-to-play structure keeps it from racing to the head of the pack.

Developer: PikPok
Price: FREE
Version Reviewed: 1.1.2
App Reviewed on: iPad Air 2

Graphics / Sound Rating: starstarstarstarhalfstar
Gameplay Rating: starstarstarhalfstarblankstar
Playtime Rating: starstarstarblankstarblankstar
Replay Value Rating: starstarblankstarblankstarblankstar

Overall Rating: starstarstarblankstarblankstar

Breakneck is a fast-paced endless runner masquerading as a time trial-focused racing game. Players speed along a wasteland in the hopes of outrunning an invaders' attack for as long as possible.As the name implies, Breakneck has a great sense of speed that pairs well with its beautiful graphics, but there are a few things preventing it from blowing my hair back in the way it should.

I say that Breakneck is more like a runner than a racing game primarily because of the way it controls. Players speed along automatically, only using the two sides of the screen to steer left and right, which operates more like a strafe than an actual turn. In order to keep good distance between their ship and the baddies, players can earn boost by steering close to walls and other obstacles before activating it by touching both sides of the screen simultaneously. While this control scheme is definitely passable, it sometimes doesn't feel very fine-tuned, sometimesmaking the act of building boost feel overly difficult. Once players clear one course they'll move onto the next - until they either hit a wall or get blown up by alien weapons.

It's kind of a good thing that Breakneck has this chasing aspect to it, because the overall environment design isn't particularly challenging. Since most of the courses are set in a wasteland there's quite a bit of wide-open space, which shifts the challenge from steering adeptly to finding edges to skirt by in order to gain boost and stay ahead. Of course, as players go from zone to zone things will get harder, but the first few zones are definitely more about building boost than they are about dodging pipes, doors, and other obstacles.

Most of the appeal for Breakneck comes from the look, which is quite stunning and has an awesome sense of speed. The speeder that players control is intricately detailed, and all of the environments are beautifully rendered and can dynamically change throughout the course of a run. To help keep the scenery from becoming boring, zones also set themselves into new configurations each day - so there's always a new way of tackling a run in any given area.

The real bummer about Breakneck is that all of its cool aesthetics and interesting gameplay are trapped in a web of inelegant freemium design. As players complete runs, they'll be collecting multiple forms of currency. These currencies can be used to purchase some permanent abilities as well as some consumable power-ups that can grant advantages for an individual run. Also, if they perform well on the leaderboards for any given week they'll receive additional currencies and bonuses, though the earning rate of all currencies is a bit on the grind-heavy side. All of this stuff isn't particularly heinous, but it does feel a bit frustrating when the game also heavily features ads and only offers in-app purchases for currency; not to get rid of the ads.

Players that don't mind seeing multiple ads between runs might find some enjoyment in Breakneck. It offers up some great-looking runner/racer action, but the controls are a little wonky and there are just a few too many free-to-play things going on for me to consider it worth sticking with. If there were an option to get rid of ads, that would go a long way to make Breakneckmuch more tolerable (and enjoyable).

iPhone Screenshots

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iPad Screenshots

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Apple TV Screenshots

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