Port roundup: Breakneck City, Demoniaca: Everlasting Night & Insomnis

We regularly cover games that have made the leap from platforms like Steam to consoles. Today we’re checking out Breakneck City, Demoniaca: Everlasting Night and the Long Night Edition of Insomnis, all out on PlayStation now.

Breakneck City

Breakneck City is being published by Eastasiasoft on consoles, and it’s a game that doesn’t waste time showing its inspirations – this is an old school beat ’em game in the vein of Double Dragon, Renegade and Final Fight – through with visuals that resemble early PlayStation-era 3D graphics. And as per the norm for games like this, there’s a gang roaming the streets that needs a good smackdown – but in a surprising turn of events Breakneck City features female fighters to choose from.

You can play in both single player and local co-op modes, and both offer a familiar style of dishing out punches and kicks – with a dodge system that’s helpful against stronger opponents. You can also pick up weapons and beat them over the head with pipes or hammers, or throw knives from a longer distance. It’s all fairly formulaic in the sense that if you’ve ever played Final Fight you won’t see any surprises here, though some visual touches are nice – like when enemies interact with the background and get knocked out of a building’s window.

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This isn’t exactly a looker though, and we think that even a 30 year old game like Final Fight looks better than Breakneck City – mostly because 2D visuals generally age better and this game looks like an experiment from the early to mid nineties where they tried to apply a 3D look to an existing formula. But where games like FX Fighter could pull off muddy looking visuals because the gameplay added a layer to the Street Fighter formula (as did the better-looking Tekken and Virtua Fighter), Breakneck City feels like a step in the wrong direction was taken – and poor animations don’t help.

Luckily the music style has aged quite a bit better, evoking memories of classic arcade brawlers in the process. It doesn’t save what is otherwise a very generic and unattractive game though, and fans should look in the direction of Streets of Rage 4 or River City Girls first. It’s a quick platinum though, so trophy hunters will find solace in that.

Demoniaca: Everlasting Night

Another title from Eastasiasoft that recently made the leap to consoles is Demoniaca: Everlasting Night, and although we see plenty of Metroidvania games this one is a well done example of the genre.

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With a title like this, it’s not surprising that this is a game that has a Castlevania feel to it, with a generally dark visual theme. Story-wise, you’re a woman who sees her village being burnt to the ground by demons, but contact with some demon blood gives her immense powers and sets her off on a journey of revenge. The story isn’t just an excuse for why you’re fighting and also includes a fair share of NPC characters, but Demoniaca is far more combat-centric than story-driven.

That combat is a clear highlight here, and the control scheme was designed around it – utilizing the face buttons on the controller for a nice selection of moves, making for more engaging (melee) combat than you’ll find in most games in the genre. Where a lot of Metroidvanias feel like a mix between exploration, platforming and combat, this one veers towards the combat side of things, and we felt it was a refreshing mixup.

The downside, however, was that the platforming felt awkward at times, especially compared to the fluid combat scenes. Some of that is down to the control scheme, which maps jumping to one of the shoulder buttons rather than the far more usual X button. While you’ll eventually find a groove, I found myself forgetting this in the heat of battle on more than one occasion – especially when your moveset expands with new abilities and attacks. One especially noteworthy one is the skill to summon a Devilboy, which helps you and can be controlled by a second player as well.

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Despite its emphasis on combat, Demoniaca: Everlasting Night has all the usual things you’d expect from the genre: gradually improving stats, new and better gear to find and equip and moves and items you can unlock by collecting souls. You can also equip multiple boosts at once and thus change your playing style, which makes sure gameplay can be as diverse as you want it to be – even though the pacing of the campaign can feel a little off at times.

This is a solid Metroidvania game though, despite its shortcomings in the controls and a pace that can feel a little off. Audiovisually it’s inspired by heavy metal music as well, so that’s going to be a plus to fans as well. For others, it’s a good combat-centric example of the genre.

Insomnis Long Night edition

Insomnis originally launched back in October on PCs, and it doesn’t take long to realize that that release was timed to coincide with Halloween. This indie horror title has now made the leap to PlayStation though, and in a change of pace provides a horror experience that focuses on puzzles rather than survival and combat.

The game doesn’t excel through its short two hour narrative, which focuses on protagonist Joe who has inherited his grandfather’s mansion. Of course, it’s haunted, but we never find out much about the background or why Joe is so keen on pushing forward in a situation that most would just want to get out of. You’ll run into diary entries along the way, but they feel like a dated concept in an era where so much storytelling is done audiovisually.

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Instead of terrific storytelling, you get a lot of the horror experience through a creepy atmosphere in a dark mansion, which is often only lit by the beam of your flashlight. The game never really gets to be really scary or tense though, as there is no combat and death isn’t an option either. Instead, you’ll run into a few jump scares, but your pace is rather slow and there’s nothing to push you to go faster either.

Instead, you slowly but steadily explore and investigate, solving puzzles and riddles in order to progress, and although there’s somewhat of a branching narrative there are ultimately only two endings – and you’ll reach them well within two hours. Insomnis reminded us a bit of the Layers of Fear games, but with less polish and less terrifying gameplay. Fans of horror games that thrive mainly on atmosphere might want to take a look though, as this is a decent puzzle adventure that’s about the length of a feature film.

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