The amount of smaller titles hitting Xbox One every week makes it difficult to cover them all, but I’ve rounded up my thoughts on a few games this week for our readers. They may not be blockbuster experiences, but they are short and unique titles that some players may not have heard of before. This time I’ve reviewed DreamBreak, SEUM: Speedrunners from Hell and Songbringer.
DreamBreak’s description sells the game as a pixel art adventure with a “quirky and unique mix of clashing gameplay genres,” making it sound much more fun than it actually is. Set in a dystopic post-Cold War USSR, you play as Eugene, a man framed for a murder he did not commit. Trust me, the premise is interesting on paper, but I could not get invested in it at all while actually playing, nor did I find the characters compelling in the slightest. The graphics are lifeless, and the controls are sluggish because of odd response times. Combat is as simple as continuously activating your shield while shooting stationary enemies, making it a skill-less endeavor. Every aspect about DreamBreak screams ‘average’.
Where I am willing to push through the banality of other games, I won’t for SEUM: Speedrunners from Hell, aptly named after the location I felt I was in while playing. In this 3D puzzle platformer, players run and jump through levels in as fast a time as possible. Unfortunately, its aesthetics, graphics, and gameplay all get in the way of being able to actually enjoy it. SEUM’s extreme heavy metal feel is too try-hard and comes across as needlessly edgy. The graphics, clearly attempting to emulate Quake 3, may have been passible over 10 years ago, but they look horrible by today’s standards. The best compliment I can give SEUM is that it ran well on Xbox One. The idea is a solid one, and while character movement feels smooth, the controls are way too touchy. It’s all too easy to nudge yourself slightly and fall off of a ledge or miss a jump, even after adjusting the sensitivity. Everything else is just so unappealing that playing through it is a tedious task.
With dozens of ‘Zelda clones’ on the market, it can be hard to stand out, but Wizard Fu Games was apparently up for the challenge. Roaming Songbringer’s procedurally generated worlds, which I found too similar to one another for my taste, was enjoyable enough, but the real fun is in its dungeons. These are where your abilities will truly be tested with well-designed enemies and puzzles. Even though it’s described as “if The Legend of Zelda were procedurally generated and set in a Star Wars-like galaxy,” it sadly lacks the same soul as either of those franchises. It’s obviously a tall order, and Songbringer still has its charm, but the sum of its parts just don’t elevate it high enough to sit with the likes of greater series. Aside from that, it’s a strong game in its own right.
Songbringer is far and away the best game in this roundup. Still, you might find enjoyment in DreamBreak or SEUM: Speedrunners from Hell depending on your tastes, so if they look interesting to you, give them a shot.