Bret Airborne is yet another twist on the match-3 puzzle formula. Can you make it to the end to stop the evil twin doctor?
Bret Airborne places you in the shoes of Bret. You find out your doctor friend has been building a machine which then gets stolen by his evil twin. It’s up to you to stop him before the evil doctor makes the volcano explodes! To do so, you’ll have to fly your way from stop to stop, facing down the opponents along the way.
Bret Airborne’s interesting twist on the match-3 formula is that you only get access to half of the board. You will trade turns moving pieces and making matches. A match of 4 or greater will move the divider in the middle towards the opponents side (or if your opponent does it, towards your side), and also grants you another move. As you progress forward, more hazards are added into play such as lightning (if you match it, it damages you).
The game also features various power-ups and skills you can use. These can greatly affect the flow of gameplay, but some also have a randomness added to them. You can also power them up by getting points by doing special actions such as using a piece from your opponents side or doing a match of four or greater. The first one you have access to, Lightning Storm, normally does something like 1-10 damage. If you get enough points to power it up, it’ll do 1-15. It would have been nice if the minimum had also been increased, because getting those 1’s when you’ve already done so much work is frustrating.
Speaking of the randomness, as expected in a match-3 title it plays a huge part. It can start to get extremely frustrating as you watch your opponent get all of the perfect matches and you get none. Granted, the AI isn’t perfect – I watched it throw away moves a lot – but when it does pull off the chains of perfect moves you just sit there crying. Pretty much all the losses I suffered were due to this sort of randomness.
When you start a duel, if there are any existing matches on the board it will make them in what is called Turbulence. It will continue to do this until there are no more valid matches available. The game initially randomly rolls for who goes first, but with each Turbulence match it switches to the other player.
My biggest issue I’ve had when it comes to this game is just when the randomness starts to get so bad, or when the AI seems to start to get favored for moves. I love match-3 formula though. Another issue I have is when I’m trying to get a tower. You need to match specific pieces, which also runs into the issue with the randomness. You only have a limited amount of time to get the supplies you need to repair the towers. Should you fail, the tower is gone forever and you can’t redo it.
In order to get more power-ups and skills, you need to spend gold. Gold is awarded when you complete a battle, and as such there’s only a limited amount available unless you sell stuff since enemies don’t respawn once you’ve beat them. Each zone’s shop seems to have different ones available, and it seems like your enemies always have access to better skills before you can get them.
Bret Airborne is definitely an interesting little game. It’ll likely take you awhile to get through since there are 10 zones available with multiple enemies in each. However, how much the randomness can just screw you over does hurt it a bit. Yeah, I know, it’s a match-3 game, there’s going to be randomness. The whole split-board concept is an interesting concept though, but it’d be neat to see it improved in ways such as if you make enough matches in one turn it stays over on the other side for longer.
Bret Airborne Review Score
I would like to thank the developer for providing me with a copy of the game for review.
Bret Airborne is available now on Steam.