I’d wager pretty much everyone has played some version of Breakout before- whether the original, or Arkanoid, or Brick Breaker, or Korbat’s Lab on Neopets; it’s one of those ubiquitous arcadey classics that is also very easy to replicate in a throwaway manner for practice or for ad revenue.
Given its prevalence, it’s easy to dismiss a breakout clone as being just like the others, and that’s more or less what I expected going in to Shatter. It had some fancy tricks and I’d probably get an hour’s worth of fun from it, but I didn’t expect to be wanting to come back. It’s absolutely one of those games that would have sat on my backlog forever, always being passed over with a “mehhh”.
Well, I’m glad to report that I was wrong and this game is awesome. I certainly didn’t expect an Arkanoid-like was going to be one of the top-tier games of 2020, but that seems to be the way this year is going.
There’s only so much you can do to set yourself apart from the infinite other competitors in the genre, but Shatter does all of them. You can alter the ball’s trajectory mid-flight by Sucking or Blowing it, with a handy indicator showing you exactly where your ball will hit so there’s no guesswork. You can at any time spend an extra life to throw another ball into the arena, allowing the player to skill-gate themselves with as many balls as they feel comfortable managing at one time. Horizontal, vertical, and even circular levels break up the repetition, and a boss fight punctuates each ‘world’, each requiring a unique strategy and careful ball handling.
All of this wrapped up in a tight, breakneck-paced package with exciting transitions and fantastic music make for Breakout perfected. It’s really, genuinely, thrilling to play. When was arkanoid ever exciting before?
Fin or Bin:
I fully expected this to be a technical Fin, inasmuch as I’d play as much as I wanted and then be done with it but not consider it a Bin. I was half right. Shatter is a full-fledged Fin, and I’ll absolutely be playing more of it. I’m only halfway through the Story Mode! (Story mode???) You can watch me play through the first half here!