Vertebreaker is a challenging old school action platformer from Headcannon, co-creator of Sonic Mania, where you use a stretchy grappling line to sling and swing your way through it’s gothic cartoony world.
We previously featured Vertebreaker on Alpha Beta Gamer back in September when it was a short Tech Demo build, but this latest build features much more content, with a vast multi-route level to explore and a challenging boss to dispatch. In the game you control a skeleton with a half-golden skill and a grappling hook made from the spine of a demon. The character momentum and physics are similar to the Sonic games, but there’s less of a focus on straight line speed and more of a focus on verticality.
It takes around 15 minutes to play through the Kickstarter demo build, but the level is packed full of different routes to discover so it’s worth playing multiple times. The stretchy grappling hook mechanics do take a little time to get used to, but once you get to grips with it it’s a lot of fun swinging and slinging your boney hero around the game world. The final boss fight does feel a little unfair, but it’s no doubt indicative of the challenging old school gameplay the game is going for – in the 16-bit era you actually had to be good at games to complete them!
Vertebreaker isn’t as easy to pick up and play as the likes of Sonic and Mario’s classic 16 bit games but it does a great job of emulating that era’s classic action platforming gameplay. The pixel art visuals and retro soundtrack are superb and the physics-based grappling mechanics are a whole lot of fun once you master them. See if you’ve got the skills to be the (skeleton) king of the swingers!
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