Off to the side of the main stage was a small booth area for Hong Kong indie studios to show off their work. While most of them were focused on mobile or tablet content, I was particularly interested in a party versus game called Balance Breakers, which is being developed on the Unity engine for PCs.
The objective of the game is simple – collect coins spewing out in the middle and bring them back to your team’s airship. Apart from moving with the left stick, the circle button performs a dash that knocks enemy players down for a while if it connects and makes them drop some of their coins.
The strategy element is then introduced when, 30 seconds into Balance Breakers, the giant cat statue in the middle activates and starts chasing after the person with the most coins. When you are hit by the cat, you are sent flying. If you fall off the stage, you lose all your coins and have to wait to respawn. The cat will also attack the airships if it gets to your bases, which means that the player with the most coins could charge towards the enemy’s base in order to make the enemy lose their collected coins. Finally, the cat gets really angry in the last minute and becomes significantly harder to avoid. Because I was spending so much time evading the cat, one of the developers was able to take enough coins for the cat to switch targets to her and attack our base, making us lose the match.
I was intrigued, and after my gameplay session asked Gamestry Lab to explain more about Balance Breakers, its story, and the premise. In the game’s world, those golden coins were in fact the foundation of society both in the human world and the world of gods. The gods began to take the coins from humans in order to improve their standing in their society. Discontented with the situation, the humans form various groups in order to take back their loot, and hopefully a bit more as well. Well, no wonder the cat god was so angry.
Sensing a bit of a dark side to the story, despite the cute demeanor, I pried further. Gamestry Lab admitted that the premise did have a real world inspiration – in particular, the increasing wealth gap in Hong Kong. However, in the end, gameplay is king, and Balance Breakers is just meant to be a fun 2v2 party game that anybody can enjoy, both online and offline.
Gameplay-wise, it turned out that the demo version of Balance Breakers was simplified, so it would be easier for people to pick up and play. The full game will have individual skills for different characters (currently all only had the dash), and there will be around 6 different characters available at launch. They also plan to include special moves powered by picking up crystals and around 3 stages at launch, each with a different enemy chasing after you.
Despite Balance Breakers‘s demo making things a little less complicated, I felt that the basic gameplay played well and required quick thinking and cooperation with your partner. The frantic, constant need bring the coins back to the airship to actually score points and the hijinks of the cat god chasing after you are definitely something I could see being quite addicting.
Gamestry Lab is first bringing Balance Breakers to PC via Steam in early 2019. After the Steam launch, Gamestry Lab will look into bringing the game to the Nintendo Switch and other consoles.