Flamebreak is one of the best indie surprises I have come across in a long time. Though clearly made on a limited budget, the amount of thought and effort that went into both its accessibility and its content is readily apparent.
The game is a roguelike blend of Binding of Isaac and FTL (and absolutely nothing like a MOBA, despite what the marketing says). Each new game gives you a choice between three characters with randomized abilities and places you on an overworld map covered in randomly generated points that are a mix of item shops, ability upgrades, battle arenas and mini-bosses. You must make your way across the map, managing your money and health in order to upgrade your gear and skills enough so that you can beat the boss before the encroaching shadows overtake you and hinder your progression. Combat is in the style of a top-down shooter, and takes place in small arenas with small groups of enemies that you need to wipe out in order to move on. You must complete several maps of increasing difficulty before fighting one of the main demi-gods which act as the final bosses of the game. If you die, you lose everything and start over from the beginning, but there is an experience system that unlocks new races and skills, which are added to the pool of available options at the beginning of the game.
The game isn’t easy, requiring some precise dodging and aiming, and doesn’t have difficulty options, but its robust key rebinding menu and visual accessibility options go far beyond what is available in many AAA games.
Though the score may not reflect it, Flamebreak does provide some very nice mobility accessibility options. The somewhat high base-difficulty, lack of difficulty settings, and reliance on precise maneuvering and timing are all unfortunate downsides, but it does have a very robust key rebind system. The top-down shooter style works best with keyboard and mouse, but it does allow for a keyboard only control scheme, which target-locks enemies rather than requiring cursor-aiming. This control style makes the game a bit harder, but it is viable, as I managed to clear a few runs using it. Sadly, I could not get a mouse-only run to function, as the onscreen keyboard does not work with the available control schemes.
As for some last bits of important information: there is no button mashing required, nor is there a camera to control, and you can change the cursor sensitivity from the menus.
There aren’t any major issues with the hearing accessibility. The lack of sound would have no impact on one’s ability to beat the game, as all attacks have very clear visual counterparts. Subtitles are present, and although the speaker is not identified, it is meant to be a nameless narrator.
Unfortunately, the visual accessibility options are not as robust as the mobility ones. The biggest problems with the game are its fonts, which can be difficult to read in certain situations and cannot be changed. Though all of the dialogue is subtitled and the item and ability information is letterboxed, the font can either be difficult to differentiate from the background due to color or hard to make out because of its small size and high density.
The game mostly avoids red and green clashes, giving players the option to change the cursor’s icon, size and color and coloring most text with yellow/teal. The main issue I encountered was in the keyboard-only control scheme, which has a green lock-on arrow that can sometimes be difficult to distinguish when there are red enemy attacks on screen. There are also green backdrops which can make it harder to see some red projectiles.
* A massive amount of ability variety and plenty of unlockables
* The wide variety of starting options made replays feel more fun than frustrating
* Accessibility options that, while not perfect, demonstrate thoughtfulness and effort
* A high base difficulty level that cannot be lowered
* Combat requires precise movement and timing
* Some unfortunate font size and color choices