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Circuit Breakers (Xbox)

Developed by Triverske, Circuit Breakers is available on PC (£4.99), PS4 (£7.99) and as of the 16th of August, Xbox (also £7.99).

Circuit Breakers is a 2D top down, twin stick shooter. You are given a quick tutorial of the controls and then left to get on with it. Your objective is to clear the room of enemy robots and move on to the next room.
The gameplay is fantastic and I have not experienced any lag or frame rate drops at all and loading screens between rooms are wonderfully short; which adds to the overall smoothness of the game.
There have been a few times where I have managed to get stuck whilst trying to traverse the room. I also tried hiding in a corner at one point, waiting for enemies to crowd around me and somehow I ended up getting completely stuck in the wall! I had to wait for an enemy to kill me so I could move again!

Usually with a twin stick you fire your weapon with the right stick but on Circuit Breakers you are given the option to use X,Y,B,A buttons to fire instead- I love this so much! I was able to fire so much more precisely! They fire in the same direction that they are laid out on the controller (X= Left, Y= Up, B= Right and A= Down). I have noticed that when I only use the right stick for firing I end up firing at an odd angle and never actually where I think I am aiming (not a game issue, that is just me and my dodgy hand-eye coordination).

I really like the game's music, it has a classic rock feel and is really well suited to the game. It is catchy and does get repetitive after a while but not in an irritating way that usually ends up with me turning the music off. Each weapon has different firing sounds and controller vibrations and when they level up in game the firing sounds and vibrations evolve! It is a really nice touch and they don't overpower the overall feel of gameplay.
Visually I was a little disappointed if i'm being honest. It is quite simplistic and the room layout does feel monotonous in it's varying shades of grey with the odd orange or red hue thrown in. Later on the main room colour does change but still feels the same as before. The enemy bullets have a tendency to blend into the background which is a little frustrating as it means sometimes I take unnecessary damage.

Something I really love about Circuit Breakers is the way you can improve your weapons whilst playing. When you kill an enemy, they drop energium (they look like little blue crystals) which, when collected will fill up your energy bar. When your energy bar is filled, the weapon will evolve into a more powerful weapon of the same type (so if you chose the shotgun, you will still have a shotgun but a better version of it). You use energium each time you fire your weapon and if you empty the energy bar, your weapon will go back down a level!
It's a really nice concept and I wish there were more than just the 4 levels (0-3). I did alternate between "constant firing" and "burst firing" to see if there was much of a difference and burst firing does seem to be the way to go to avoid wasting gun levels unnecessarily!
You can survive 3 hits and have 3 extra lives so 12 hits and its game over unless you can collect a heart! You do have a shield (LT) which will knock back any enemies around you, protect you from any bullets and allow you to move into a safer area but it uses your energium so use it carefully!

There are small supply boxes around the room labelled with their contents which if you break open will resupply you with energium or health.
Keep in mind that the drops do disappear. I found this out the hard way when I approached a huge amount of dropped energium (having successfully lured enemies away so I could actually reach it) and it vanished! Devastated is an understatement of how I felt. Expletives may have been used.

The game starts on 1.0x difficulty which is apparently "Pretty Easy." Now, I would usually consider myself to have pretty decent abilities when it comes to gaming but Circuit Breakers has made me question everything! In other words, I spent SIX hours playing and still couldn't get further than that one time I managed to get into room 7. Thankfully, after a short break; I seemed to have improved slightly. I managed to reach room 10 and catch a glimpse of the boss!
Every 10 rooms you will encounter a boss and I must say it is vital that you have your weapon levelled up by the end of the room beforehand or you will find it a real struggle. Thankfully, energium is dropped during the boss fights, if you can get to it without dying!

You can change the gameplay as well as the difficulty by unlocking Cores which is done by completing challenges. You can keep track of the challenges in the "Extras" option found on the main page. There are the general game challenges as well as pages dedicated to individual character's challenges. Some are obtained fairly easily with normal gameplay but there are others that are just plain brutal.

Also in Extras you can find your stats and the Logbook which tells you a little about the enemies, your characters' weapons as well as other entries, all of which you unlock when you complete the challenges.

There are two different game modes: The first is 'Arcade' where you fight an endless horde of robots. You can play up to 6 players on local couch co-op. Sadly there is no online co-op which is a shame as I doubt I would be able to get more than one or two other people to play local co-op with me.
The game adapts the enemy spawns with the amount of people currently playing and readjusts each time someone leaves or joins during gameplay.

I did give local co-op a go with my partner (I begged him to help) and it was definitely not easier with two of us. The enemies were streaming through the doors in huge amounts and showed no signs of stopping. It felt like the enemy count must have more than doubled!
There were so many enemies that at times I couldn't see my character as I had confused it with the other player's! When we were at opposite sides of the room, I disappeared somewhere at the top of the screen behind all of the "Press # to Join" text. Needless to say, we didn't last long and I returned (alone) to the title screen.
The majority of local co-op games I have played have always had more of a 'party game' feel to them and are usually played with friends after a few drinks or with the children. So, unless Circuit Breakers has a way of completely reducing the difficulty to allow for longer play and fewer restarts or even adding a checkpoint feature where you can restart at your chosen room instead of starting from the beginning every time; I think I will be sticking to solo play.

Score Attack is a challenge mode where you have short courses and have to get the highest score possible, whilst being timed. A feature of this I like is that there are 3 leaderboards that you can see which tell you your own high score; your friends high scores and global high scores. There are separate leaderboards for 1,2,3 and 4 players. A good addition to the game to add some extra playability and more courses can be unlocked by completing the relevant challenge. There is certainly plenty of things to do to keep you busy!

Circuit Breakers has 15 achievements available for 1,000 Gamerscore. I love games that have a well thought out and imaginative achievement list unfortunately, Circuit Breakers does fall behind here, for me. They are essentially taken from the challenge page. There is an achievement which requires reaching room 50 with 4 players which is a daunting task to say the least!
If you are looking for help or guidance with any of the achievements then head over to True Achievements where you can find lots of helpful information!

Overall,  If I had to give it a score it would be 7/10. I have really enjoyed playing Circuit Breakers and no doubt will get a LOT of gameplay from it in order to complete the challenges. I find that playing for an hour or so at a time works better for me than playing really long stretches. I would have liked the game to be more colourful; perhaps an extra easy setting (please?) and local co-op issues aside, if you are looking for a challenge then Circuit Breakers is definitely worth playing!

A game code was provided by the publisher for the purpose of this review. Thank you!
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