Twin Breaker: A Sacred Symbols Adventure Review

Greetings and Salutations, my name is Jamie and welcome to Xbox Tavern, an Xbox based website where we deliver you the latest reviews each and every week. Up next, we look at Twin Breaker: A Sacred Symbols Adventure… wait, this can’t be right. What is this heresy?

I joke, of course. Despite running the Tavern, I’ve always been a multi-platform guy (except during The Great Playground Wars in the early 90’s). As such, I tend to take in a wide variety of gaming content outside of playing them, mostly in the form of Podcasts. As a long-time fan of Podcast Beyond, Kinda Funny and, more pertinently, Sacred Symbols I was pretty excited to hear that Colin Moriarty was releasing his first game; the result of which is the subject of this review.

Teaming up with Lillymo Games, Twin Breaker takes the classic brick breaking formula from yesteryear and pumps new ideas, and a fairly detailed lore, in to proceedings. It all amounts to an entertaining arcade game that, while nothing revolutionary, will give you a good few evenings worth of gameplay.

If you’ve played any brick breaker title before then you’ll know what to expect; there are two paddles at the bottom of the screen that can be moved left and right in order to bounce a ball up towards the bricks laid out if various formations. Break them all within the allotted time and we move onto the next stage. There are various power ups and hazards to use or contend with, such as being able to extend our paddles, gain stronger balls, or even a duel gun to help things, or items that will shrink our paddles, slow us down or cost points. Clearing a stage is needed to progress to the next, thought there are high scores and ranks to aim for, with the highest of these granting access to a lore-filled diary entry, one for each stage.

Where Lillymo mix things up though is in some of the later areas, where the paddles move from the bottom to the sides of the screen and, later on, both the sides AND bottom at once. These stages were naturally the hardest and tended to appear in the latter of each section of 10 stages (with 40 in total broken up into 4 sets of 10 capped off by a boss battle). We control the each side with the corresponding analogue stick, but need to handle both bottom and sides at once. On my first night playing I was far too tired to get to grips with this, though subsequent plays were better. It adds a neat spin and challenge to the formula, though I’m glad these are reserved for only a hand ful of levels.

As mentioned, each set of 10 is capped off with a boss fight. These still have bricks to break, though the focus is the boss’s life bar. Hit them 10 times with a ball and we win, even if there are bricks left. The bosses don’t make life easy, moving around or sending out hazards to dodge. Power ups are still in play, and in this scenario they can knock the balance off a little; the final boss was defeated in about 10 seconds flat as I was lucky enough to randomly get a duel gun power up for one of paddle, effectively making it so that I couldn’t help but decimate his life bar (also granting me an S rank for the stage).

Clearing the 40 stages took me about 3 hours total, but if you’re keen on getting S ranks all round then that time will likely double at least. It’s a shame that there didn’t seem to be any sort of online leader board which would have encouraged play between friends perhaps. There are also a plethora of other modes to play; Marathon, Hockey, Random, Shooter, Catcher, and Boss rush are all here and offer up a twist on the gameplay. Catcher, for example, tasks us with dodging enemies while collecting coins, the difficulty increasing the further we get. Hockey meanwhile has us playing, well, hockey against a series of boss characters, trying to get the ball past them 3 times before moving on to the next. These are a fun addition to the core game, though again some sort of 2 player option to something like Hockey would have been a good shout.

As for the story, well, if you’re familiar with Colin’s work – especially Sacred Symbols, his and Chris Ray Gun’s PS podcast that is part of the inspiration for this game – then you’re in for a entertaining story full of references and call backs to their show. Even the paddles are called Greetings and Salutations in reference to the show’s opening each week. Those paddles are actually intergalactic space craft, the ball their form of defence. It’s well written, as you’d expect, though perhaps a little too… self-indulgent is perhaps the best way to put it. Colin clearly put a lot of time in to the space-travelling, sci-fi tale, but it feels like it’s being taken a bit too seriously at times. The diary entries unlocked by gaining high scores on stages flesh out the narrative as well, though I didn’t get to read them all; partly due to not being good enough to unlock some, partly because I wasn’t overly invested toward the end.

Conclusion

While the brick breaker genre is about as old as gaming itself, Twin Breaker: A Sacred Symbols Adventure still brings fresh ideas to the fold, making it an enjoyable, challenging time. That there is so much time and effort invested in the story in commendable, though I didn’t get as invested in that as it seems Colin would like players to be. There are plenty of levels to try and best, with high score challenges, a new game+ mode, and several alternate modes as well to supplement the 3 hour or so main game. Fans of Colin, and Sacred Symbols especially, will enjoy the various references dotted though out as well.

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This game was reviewed based on Xbox One review code, using an Xbox One console. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version. Game provided by publisher.
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Good
  • Fun gameplay
  • Nice colourful visual aesthetic
  • Loads of levels and modes to play
  • A very detailed tale to explore should you wish
Bad
  • The music can start to grate after a while
  • The double paddle set levels take some getting used to
7.2
Good
Gameplay - 8
Graphics - 8.3
Audio - 5
Longevity - 7.5
Written by
I've been gaming since Spy vs Spy on the Master System, growing up as a Sega kid before realising the joy of multi-platform gaming. These days I can mostly be found on smaller indie titles, the occasional big RPG and doing poorly at Rainbow Six: Siege. Gamertag: Enaksan

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