The Breakout is the interactive Hogan’s Heroes that makes my POW (or prisoner of war) senses tingle with unapologetic joy. The storytelling capabilities of Point’n’Click gaming meets the strange charm of prison break thrillers in this upcoming game from Pixel Trip Studios.
Guy Kassel, ex-thief and Royal Air Force pilot, gets shot down and taken into a POW camp. Desperate to elude the über enemy, he must sneak, steal, and scavenge his way to a great escape. Players will find multiple methods of escape, as well as an A-team of allies with unique skills that will impact your journey.
The Breakout‘s demo, while expectantly limited, gave some insight into the style and game plan we should expect. You’ll pretty much be stepping into The Great Escape and fashioning your own means to freedom, amidst the dangers and oppression of the most treacherous prison camp known to man: Verdammen Hof.
In this world of overarching skulls, I can only imagine what evolutionary path led to the prominent integration of the nose into the forehead. Nasalities aside, I actually laud the pseudo-cubist character design. As with cubism, these designs are personable and lively, while carrying tones of misery in their distortion. Overall, The Breakout features an art style that captures the solemnity of the WWII era with a lividity that keeps the work from descending into the dingy war-documentary aesthetic.
The sunsets are also so fantastically beautiful that they occur at both sides of the forest simultaneously.
Puzzles in this demo were not too difficult, and featured a scavenge-and-craft mechanic that is interesting and varied without sacrificing a level of complexity. Instead of creating a prison break eye-spy game, Pixel Trip wants to incorporate a dynamic environment that will require you to take precautions, wisely collect your resources, and craft solutions.
The final product will need a serious increase in complexity, but it is good to know that Pixel Trip plans for much more in terms of environment and gameplay. Otherwise, The Breakout wouldn’t evolve into anything more sophisticated than a quaint tap-tap game, favorite of bored toilet-dwellers and borderline unconscious classroom students. The demo seems to be only a small taste, but Pixel Trip’s devotion to exploration and energy make me trust, to some degree, that the narrative and gameplay will get more interesting.
The soundtrack for The Breakout is enjoyably promising. A sample of Adam Zuranda’s work utilizes symbolic sounds to create tension and weave a story of oppression. While not the most cinematically stunning works, the tracks smartly utilize simple noise effects such as army whistling, war drums, marching, and warning sirens to its advantage. It all does well to capture the morbidity of war and the restrictive, anxious feelings tied into encampment. Sound effects are atypically critical to this game, because if your only interaction with objects is a simple click, a decent amount of impact should be tied to the interaction to make the gameplay feeling active and palpable.
Perhaps the largest accomplishment of The Breakout thus far is nailing the gritty, adult themes in just the right manner. Stylistically, the entire game feels like I’ve stepped into a propaganda poster. Gameplay choices have impact, because watching your character get brutally beaten at your slightest misstep gives The Breakout a tension lacking in most Point’n’Click games. Harsh consequences, the cinematically sober aesthetic, and a soundtrack that makes you fear for your freedom combine to make The Breakout a game to look out for. I can’t wait to break out of prison, so here’s to Pixel Trip riding this successful demo into the miraculous double sunset.