“Is it still the same game if you replace every part of it? Or is it a new game that pretends to be old? Either way, it’s a fun ride, but not a fresh one.”
Snowbreak: Containment Zone is now available for closed beta testing, and I was lucky enough to get a chance to try it. A post-apocalyptic sci-fi take on the shooter genre doesn’t sound too interesting on paper, but Snowbreak makes it work with its more out-of-the-box gameplay.
This article is written by Hakaze
Snowbreak: Containment Zone, or Snowbreak for short, is developed by Amazing Seasun, a game development and publishing company based in Shanghai, China. Some of their previous titles include Ballads of Hongye (2018) and Biphase (2021), a city-building simulator and a puzzle game respectively. With a wealth of experience under their belt, let’s now take a look at their newest and most promising release, Snowbreak: Containment Zone.
While Snowbreak is 10 GB on PC and 7.07 GB on mobile in its closed beta test (CBT) access, I believe that the size may adjust and grow when the full game is released. Keep your phone and PC storage ready for those who plan to play this game once the game fully releases!
The gameplay is a mixed bag, in the sense that the experience varies quite a lot between PC and mobile in my playthrough. On PC, it’s smooth, fluid and fun to aim and shoot using the mouse, while on mobile, it’s quite the opposite as it either feels too sluggish to aim or too sensitive when trying to aim down a specific opponent. While yes, there are settings that can adjust the experience, none of them felt just right no matter the combination that I had set them to be. Then there’s the problem of the auto-aim and auto-shoot that felt inconsistent between multiple stages. It didn’t feel like you were playing a shooter, but a clunky point-and-click game.
Let’s talk about gameplay. Before entering a level, you will need to know about operatives and their weapons. You can level up operatives without any problem, as there is no hard level cap or ascension system for any character. The only thing that caps your operative’s level is your own level as the Adjutant. Strictly speaking, the initial cap is level 15, which will only increase once the Adjutant reaches level 16. Weapons, on the other hand, have a level cap and ascension system. The first stage of a weapon is from level 1 to 20. You can ascend the weapon using the game’s ascension materials, but only when the Adjutant reaches level 20. I find this annoying, as it puts a stop to leveling up weapons in a straight and continuous pattern.
You control 1 to 3 operatives in a single level, all the characters have specific weapon types, from sniper rifles to pistols, the game seems to use all default. They all control wonderfully [On PC] and every shot that fires feels adequate enough that it actually adds to the fun of the experience. With that said, the guns are half of the equation as the operatives all have their own unique fighting styles as well. From stealth to healing/buffing to mostly damage-dealing types of skills, each operative has their own kit that lets them function in their own unique way.
To go a bit more in-depth into the combat sections of the game, you control one of the three characters at a time. Think of it as a mix of Honkai Impact and Punishing Gray Raven, in terms of how the operatives themselves are controlled. They have a normal basic attack, a normal skill, and an ultimate. However, they also have support skills that can be used without switching to them. This support skill can either aid an ally or disrupt the enemies.
My opinion is that it’s a pretty fun system that’s quite easy to pick up but hard to master. Experimenting with the different combinations of operatives that you are able to use is interesting. Because of their unique functions and kits, you get different results every time. For example, the current team that I’m running consists of Fenny – Coronet, Yao – Winter Solstice and Lyfe – Wednesday, Fenny’s skill buffing the shooting speed of a single ally while Yao and Lyfe’s skill is an AoE damage and paralyzing the enemy respectively.
Design-wise the more flat-colored approach somewhat adds to the theme of it being post-apocalyptic. It encapsulates the dreary tone as you explore the mostly barren wastelands and cities of Snowbreak. I really enjoy the feeling of just exploring a bit as even the level design reminds me of old shooter games like the Medal of Honor series on PSP, the dreariness of every level with only the enemies populating the area makes great use of the lonely feeling that the player may be experiencing when walking or exploring each level.
Speaking of enemies, they have wonderfully crafted as well as most of them have their own unique designs, from the common grunts to the machines to the monsters. Their designs also have a function as well because some parts of their body act as either armor, a functional weapon or both in some cases. You are able to interact and destroy these parts of the enemies to either temporarily paralyze them or permanently disable one of their attacks.
As this is a free-to-play (F2P) game, they have to monetize it somehow. They do this with their gacha system, which is the same old song and dance as other gacha games this generation. As a free-to-play (F2P) player, you can grind through the game to earn currency for pulls. However, the amount of currency you can earn is limited, as there is only a first-clear bonus for each level. In contrast, I received a lot of gacha funds during the closed beta test (CBT) because the developers sent care packages to testers. For those who are wondering, the hard pity for characters is 80 pulls, while for weapons it is 60 pulls.
To close it off, do I suggest that Snowbreak is for everyone? No. I believe this game is mainly targeted at fans of the anime shooter genre, think Nikke and Calabiyau. As this is also only a first impression, certain things are subject to change. In addition to the gameplay, there’s also multiplayer, the story, a stigmata system and many more for readers like you to discover on your own.
With all that said, this game does feel easy to pick up and learn so if you’re curious about how it actually feels to play, you can pre-register and start playing by the 20th of July this year, the start of the open beta. I hope we all can play together!