Circuit Breakers Review — Survive the Robot Horde

Does Circuit Breakers have what it takes to charge up a great experience, or are these circuits completely fizzled out?

on August 4, 2017 2:55 PM

There is no doubt there is an over saturation of retro-styled arcade shooters in the gaming medium and, because of this, it becomes harder for some to impress when comparing to others. Developer Triverske is the next in line to try and differentiate from the crowd with it’s frantic, over-the-top robot shooter Circuit Breakers. But does Circuit Breakers have what it takes to charge up a great experience, or are these circuits completely fizzled out?

Circuit Breakers Review -- Survive the Robot Horde

Circuits Breakers is a sprite-based arcade game that can be played with up to four players locally. The controls feature eight-directional firing using either the face buttons (square, circle, etc.), or using the right analog stick to aim in the desired direction you wish to aim. While it’s great that you can use your analog stick to fire, only being able to shoot in eight directions makes it hard to hit specific explosive crates and enemies.

Circuit Breakers features a few different types of modes and four playable characters already unlocked, each with their own type of weapon. For instance, one character sprays out a machine-gun barrage of bullets, another shoots out a singular laser evaporating everything in its path, one fires high powered rockets, and the final character fires a short-burst spread of shotgun rounds.

During the course of the gameplay you will be progressing room to room facing a horde of relentless robots trying to stop you. Circuit Breakers uses its ammo-like energy system in order to power up your weapons to do more damage, similar to the great side-scroller Cave Story+. If you run out of ammo you will be left with only your base weapon, forcing you in a difficult position  trying to taking out the enemy. To get out of tight spots, players can use a shield with the left trigger — but it’s usually more effective to just blast enemies away in the general direction you wish to go.

While the game starts out pretty easy, it definitely ramps up in difficulty rather quickly sending a ton of enemies all at once in your directional, very similar to the classic arcade shoot em’ up Smash TV. Circuit Breakers uses its retro art style (while overplayed in this day and age) to a good effect — the art is well done, although I wish there was more variety in the enemies you are facing. Many of the enemies are only slight variations or different colors from one to another, though they do become harder the further you make it through the game in Arcade mode.

Circuit Breakers Review -- Survive the Robot Horde

To progress, Circuit Breakers uses a room system in which defeating a certain amount of enemies in a given room will unlock the go ahead to move to the next room. While the rooms have the same designs as you play, the order in which you will be facing them is changed for each playthrough.

Every ten rooms you will face a boss (which are definitely the highlight of the title) and if you are able to survive you will move on to the next set of levels, which thankfully changes up the aesthetic a small amount. Unfortunately, there is really no strategy for taking on enemies and the game just seems to randomly decide when you are able to exit the room.

While you can play the game by yourself, it’s highly recommended you play Circuit Breakers with friends. You do get a life counter if you are playing by yourself, but if you run out of lives it’s game over and you have to start over from the beginning. However, if you are playing with friends there is no life counter; instead a re-spawn timer comes up and if the timer goes away before you end up having your entire team defeated you will be resurrected.

Circuit Breakers Review -- Survive the Robot Horde

There is no story mode to speak of with each character only being different in color, appearance, and what type of weapon they use. Trying to beat your previous best attempt is really the only incentive to continue on and even then there are no benefits given for subsequent playthroughs because you having to start from square one each time. You can set modifiers to allow for racking up high scores, but sadly this is an underused concept and they are very hard to unlock through the natural progression of the game.

Outside of the main Arcade mode is the Score Challenge mode; players take on sets of levels and do their best to beat them as fast as possible with the objective being to achieve as high of a score as possible. Each character also has their own challenge card which basically gives them individual tasks to try and accomplish, such as “getting getting a certain number of kills,” or “being able to fire a certain number of shots.” There’s also one card designated for just achieving certain milestones throughout your playtime in the game.

Circuit Breakers Review -- Survive the Robot Horde

From the technical side of things, Circuit Breakers generally ran well and only had a few instances of hiccups with slowdown. Thankfully, the game did not crash once while playing and ran rather smoothly overall, even with all the action on-screen. That being said, this is a pretty slim package even for the price and would have been helped immensely by the inclusion of online play, but sadly this is not present. Also, the distinct lack of progression with carrying over certain items or stat boosts make returning for subsequent runs not as fun.

Overall, Circuit Breakers is a decent arcade shooter with a nice retro style aesthetic. I wish there was more variety and more extras, considering there are a good amount of titles similar to this already available on consoles and PC, and because of this it becomes hard to fully recommend as a purchase. You are pretty much getting a very basic twin-stick shooter missing any type of style or personality. However, if you are looking for a new local arcade shooter to play with friends, this may be what you are looking for.

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Josh Brant is a staff writer at Dualshockers. When he isn't gaming or writing on anything PlayStation or the Nintendo Switch, he is spending time with his wonderful family in the glorious Queen City: Cincinnati. After Final Fantasy VII opened his eyes to the power of video games, he has never ceased to take on a challenge -- especially anything in the Souls/Borne universe.