Holo X Break
Screenshot via Siliconera

Review: Holo X Break Is a Bite-Sized Brawler

Announced and released in the space of a month, Holo X Break is another Hololive-focused fan-game by the team behind the excellent Vampire Survivors-like Holocure. This time taking the form of a side-scrolling beat-em-up, Holo X Break doesn’t quite capture the replayability of its sister game, but it still delivers on both references and multiplayer fun.

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The plot is breezily simple. You play as members of Hololive’s 5th generation trying to rescue the company’s CEO from the 6th generation, Secret Society HoloX. There are 4 characters to start with and another 5 that unlock after beating the game once. Each of the members you play as has a basic attack and several skills that you’ll unlock as you level up, and as they do so they begin to fall into certain roles. Botan, for example, is based around ranged damage-dealing inspired by the real streamer’s fondness for FPS games, but she struggles when lots of enemies get close. Meanwhile, Nene’s infectious positivity and brash personality is interpreted as something like a Paladin, with close ranged attacks backed up by healing and buffs.

The meat of the gameplay is scrolling through levels, beating up goons and picking up items and equipment. The combat is simple, and does lack some of the combos or other complexities found in say, Streets of Rage, but it’s buoyed up by both the references and a small loot system with various effects like attack modifiers, healing or cooldown reduction. There’s also a bevy of consumable drops with both offensive and defensive effects, and the frequency these appear at combined with your limited inventory encourages you to use them liberally. Again, it’s not as in depth as other games but it also doesn’t need to be, and the laid back brawling-with-friends style of gameplay wouldn’t be especially well served by having to stop and measure increasingly infinitesemal stat bonuses in a Nioh or Diablo-like loot system.

The stages are charming and colorful, chock-full of jokes for those in the know but still pretty pleasing to the eye if you’re not. They can get a little repetitive since they usually only have a few backgrounds and are essentially a featureless street, but it rarely felt particularly grating since your focus will be elsewhere. Then between the stages is a short rest stop with a shop and upgrade center for tinkering with your item loadout, or better yet sinking your coins in the emote gatcha. There are over 140 emotes in the game, drawn by various Hololive fan-artists and, importantly, all properly credited.

Playing solo the game felt serviceable, but with a friend it was a real blast. While it didn’t launch with online multiplayer, Steam’s remote play feature lets you essentially simulate couch co-op as a stop-gap measure. Not having used the feature before I was skeptical, but it ended up being as easy to set up as regular multiplayer, barring some issues with recent updates on Steam’s end. Now, they say every game is more fun with friends but I think Holo X Break threads a particular needle of being simple enough to enjoy while chatting while remaining complex enough to engage. I only intended to test for a few minutes with a colleague and ended up whiling away nearly 2 hours, explaining the in-jokes and references as we played.

There are a few blemishes, however. While the tutorial feeds you information at a steady pace, there’s no way to see a general overview of controls, only reset the tutorials altogether. As for the combat, while the impact and animations all felt satisfyingly punchy I did find it frustrating the way special attacks require a charge time to activate. It’s a small complaint, but I felt it disincentivized using them in the middle of a pack of enemies where they would otherwise be most useful. These are flaws you’ll likely barely notice while playing with friends, but when repeatedly going solo they tend to stick out more.

Most glaringly there’s also a lack of save functionality: if you want to try a new character or have someone else join, you’ll need to start again from the beginning. A full run through the game only takes around an hour and it’s not like it takes long to get into, but the lack of the option is noticeable. While we’re on the topic of restarting, the game could also benefit from a stage select and an option to start with all your abilities unlocked, since starting new runs can be a bit of a drag for the first few stages otherwise.

But taken as what it is, a charming game with excellent production quality available entirely for free, there’s little to really complain about. While it likely won’t keep you as engrossed as Holocure, which to be fair has received a fair chunk of post-launch content, Holo X Break is another excellent addition to both the Holo Indie label and the growing roster of quality Hololive fan-games.

Holo X Break is immediately available on PC via Steam, with online multiplayer set to be added in a future update.

8
Holo X Break

Fight your way through endless waves of holoX's minions! Gear up with all sorts of equipment and items in this action packed beat-em-up to reach the 5 bosses of hololive's "holoX", and put a stop to their plans!

Simple but charming, Holo X Break is a charming romp best enjoyed with friends, but Hololive fans will likely enjoy it even solo.

Food for Thought:
  • Reuniting Ollie's head with her body in Stage 3 will net you a reward of coins, as well as being generally cute.
  • I completely forgot you can store spare equipment in your inventory to sell later.
  • How many projects can Kay Yu et al. support at once?

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Author
Elliot Gostick
Elliot is a staff writer from the mist-shrouded isle of Albion, and has been covering gaming news and reviews for about a year. When not playing RPGs and Strategy games, she is often found trying (and failing) to resist the urge to buy more little plastic spacemen.