Dragon Ball Fans Need to Play this Unique Twist on the Anime
And it’s available now on PlayStation Plus.
Few series have had as successful a run in video games as Dragon Ball, from the beloved Budakai Tenkaichi games to the ambitious RPG Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot. It’s easy to see why Dragon Ball works so well in video games, with its absurd battles and colorful characters. Of all of these unique takes on the prolific anime, however, one of the most thrilling is Dragon Ball: The Breakers. It’s a fascinating, albeit janky, asymmetrical multiplayer game that puts a fun Dragon Ball twist on the Dead By Daylight-style experience. And now that it’s free in November with a PS Plus membership, it absolutely deserves a closer look.
The Breakers is the rare experience that has you playing as normal humans, instead of the super-powered heroes and monsters that make up the series’ casts. Six players take on the role of survivors, while one player assumes the mantle of “Raider.” The raider is an iconic villain from the franchise, like Frieza, Cell, and Broly (who was added in the most recent update). Both parties have separate goals to fulfill — the survivors need to activate a Super Time Machine and escape, while The Raider is simply focused on taking out all the survivors.
That simple setup opens up surprisingly complex gameplay systems and an experience that’s unlike anything the Dragon Ball franchise has ever seen. The Breakers has some unwieldy controls and can feel a bit unbalanced at times, but it’s absolutely fascinating to play.
Taking on the role of the survivors is a nail-biting experience, as you try and creep around the map avoiding the eye-in-the-sky of The Raider, who can zoom around anywhere with ease. Because you have no powers, you need to scavenge supplies from crates scattered around the map, all while trying to find Power Keys to turn on the Super Time Machine.
There’s a real sense of tension that permeates matches, and getting discovered by The Raider is an adrenaline-pumping moment as you desperately try to make your escape. A variety of gadgets can work in your favor by granting vehicles to let you move faster, shields to block energy blasts, springboards, and much more. You’ll be able to build more options for a loadout as you play matches and level up, unlocking more items in the process.
What’s really interesting, however, is that players can also battle The Raider and reduce their health to zero in order to win. You can find items known as Transpheres that let you temporarily transform into legendary warriors like Goku or Trunks, giving you the power to briefly battle things out. At the same time, the seven Dragon Balls are scattered around each map, and if your team is able to find them they’ll grant you ultimate transformation.
All of the options for how you approach a match rely heavily on teamwork, and your team will need to decide early on how it’s going to proceed. Playing as The Raider, on the other hand, is the complete opposite experience, empowering you as an unstoppable force, if you play right. Taking on this role is like engaging in a high-speed game of hide-and-seek, rushing around the map to eliminate players as quickly as possible.
There’s a lot of variety packed into The Breaker’s core gameplay, but where it really succeeds is in embracing the spirit of Dragon Ball and creating memories. The game embraces the aesthetic and style of Dragon Ball wholeheartedly, looping in tons of classic music, sounds, and visuals. Not to mention there’s just something genuinely hilarious about seeing a farmer with a shotgun go head-to-head against iconic characters like Cell and Majin Buu.
While you’ll likely deal with a bit of frustration if a team doesn’t gel or a Raider is extra good, there are moments that really make the game shine. Having a transformed team come together to whittle down a Raider’s health bar is thrilling, especially when you’re all on the brink of destruction. Equally, stopping the Super Time Machine at the last second as The Raider can be a ton of fun, and during matches you even get the chance to wipe entire areas off the map.
The Breakers isn’t perfect by any means. In fact, it has a wealth of flaws, including an unwieldy camera to some questionable connectivity and online performance, at times. Still, it represents something that Dragon Ball and anime games at large desperately need: experimentation. It feels like a tremendous breath of fresh air, in a series that’s eternally focused on one big fight after the next. This game can be a ton of fun if you’re willing to put in the time. It’s a unique experience in a sea of anime arena fighters. We can only hope the franchise continues to embrace that spirit of experimentation.