If nothing else, Dragon Ball: The Breakers will go down as the most original video game in the Shonen franchise. The new asymmetric survival game allows players to take on the roles of either Survivor or Raider with the former arriving as custom characters for those diving into this world and the latter being represented by the three biggest main villains from Dragon Ball Z lore. With the game’s originality in mind, does this latest entry in the series give enough to both anime fans and non-anime fans alike?
For asymmetric horror games, the major selling point is variety, with players needing a wide variety of options when it comes to how they can claim victory. On this front, Dragon Ball: The Breakers is sufficient, as there are multiple ways as a Survivor that you will be able to defeat the Raider whether that be through a well-timed “Dragon Change,” a transformation that allows players to briefly transform into more than a few Z-Fighters from the franchise, or by making their way through two types of time machines. On the Raider side, fans can take on the roles of Frieza, Cell, and Majin Buu to eliminate as many players as they can in glorious carnage.
As mentioned earlier, playing as a Survivor in this game teams you up with six additional Survivors as you all scramble to capture as many resources you can to allow you to start up a “Super Time Machine” or simply become powerful enough to beat the Raider into submission. The mad dash of cat and mouse can be thrilling at times, though there is a monotony to be found with simply having to strike one button and/or hold it down to do any number of activities including opening countless boxes, planting a time key, rescuing civilians, or attempting to start up a time machine. It’s a waiting game that could benefit from some additional variety.
The game does give Survivors plenty of tools at their disposal, however, which can often allow players to zip around the map using zip lines, Kaioken Rushes, jumping platforms, and more. The tools themselves have cooldown times that make using them a key decision when it comes to whether you want to focus on traversing the map that much faster or dodging a Raider hot on your tail. In these options, you can find enjoyment by taking on the role of Survivor, but it’s in the Dragon Change that you begin struggling with the controls. Transforming into a Z-Fighter can put you on an even playing field with a Raider for a short amount of time, but you might be struggling with the camera for as long as you are with Frieza before you can get enough hits in to chip away at their health bar. The action is fast and frantic, taking a page from the Dragon Ball Xenoverse and Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot styles, but suffers thanks to a lack of polish which can cause players to be unable to get a grip on the fight that is transpiring before their eyes.
Raiders of the Lost Anime
Being a villain is where the game can really shine, as Frieza, Cell, and Majin Buu all have distinct characteristics that give them strengths and weaknesses in comparison to one another. In these Raiders, the game really shows off its originality as Cell begins his journey, for example, in his “Larva form”, while Frieza is far more versatile in his first form that allows him to fly around in his floating capsule, but later transformations might give the former the edge when it comes to sniffing out Survivors. Majin Buu might be the most original of the Raiders and big props have to be given to the developers for the demon’s unique phases. If a player chooses Majin Buu, they start as Babidi’s henchmen attempting to resurrect the pink nightmare and before Buu can transform into his final form, all the Survivors are literally transported into the villains’ body to stay true to the Shonen series. That’s an exceptionally new twist.
Much like the Survivors scramble for resources, the Raider scrambles to chow down and/or eliminate both the players and the civilians unfortunate enough to get in their way. Of course, with only one Raider per match, this makes becoming one that much more difficult and players might be waiting in some aggressively long queues before they just so happen to step into the shoes of a Dragon Ball Z villain. There is fun to be had in stalking your prey, though again, it can feel a tad monotonous thanks to the game’s sparse number of raiders along with only three maps at launch.
Cosmetics, Cosmetics, Cosmetics
Dragon Ball: The Breakers has all the elements of a “gacha” game without necessarily falling under that category with several types of currency being hurled at players. Unfortunately, the skins, outfits, voice lines, and so on, are quite basic and don’t really compel a player to dig deep to feel like they’re working toward a significant goal. While the battle pass does have a tempting “Farmer With A Shotgun” skin, there simply isn’t enough here to really push folks to spend real money on the game. When the biggest cosmetics range from “Orange Shirt” to “Blue Pants,” it feels like the cosmetics department could have used more work.
On the graphics front, Breakers is nothing to write home about, with various texture issues and basic character models making it look far more like a game that might have fit better on the Xbox 360 and/or Playstation 3 instead of the current generation of consoles. There have certainly been other anime games, even massive multiplayer ones in fact, that have been able to stay truer to their respective source materials’ animation styles.
What Is Your Wish?
Reviewing a big online multiplayer game like Dragon Ball: The Breakers can be difficult because an asymmetric horror game can often gain a lot of traction in its future by expanding on its mechanics, cosmetics, characters, and so on. Even for Breakers, the game is already hinting at its “second season” which will introduce Great Ape Vegeta to the matches, but the latest entry is just missing too much at present when it comes to bringing fans back on the regular. This isn’t to say that the game is a failure, just that it could have been so much more and still has to deal with technical issues as well as cosmetic problems. I’m anxious to see where Breakers is one year from now as it definitely has the potential to find its footing, but for now, this might be a recommendation to hardcore Dragon Ball fans only.
Rating 2.5 Out Of 5
Dragon Ball: The Breakers is now available on PC, Nintendo Switch, Playstation 4, and Xbox One. A review code and in-game currencies were provided by the publisher.
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