Platformers are all about jumping, but what happens when your jumps are so powerful that your body literally can’t handle them? That’s the idea behind Legbreaker, a game about figuring out how to maintain the protagonist’s body as they make their way through several sadistic experiments.
Legbreaker’s mechanics are simple: the player has a huge jump. One jump results in one broken leg, meaning you get a max of two in each level before being reduced to a crawl. Every room is a mini puzzle, full of gaps and ledges that task the player with deciphering the best way to reach the exit while also weighing how breaking one or both legs will affect their strategy. It’s soon revealed, however, that even dragging yourself around with two broken legs has its benefits, since it allows the player to squeeze through small spaces. In later stages, crawling can also be used to cross gaps that would otherwise require a jump.
The experiments that make up Legbreaker’s loose narrative eventually expand to include platformer staples like switches, spikes, springs, and movable boxes, each of which provide additional perspective on the jumping mechanic. Since players can’t manually control jump height, ceiling spikes necessitate getting to a lower platform before leaping across a gap. Springs can only be used once, meaning they have to be rationed just like regular jumps in order to avoid obstacles. Boxes can be dropped on switches to open doors, but they also provide the additional height necessary to depress the buttons yourself.
Legbreaker’s controls can sometimes be a struggle. Moving the character around, even with two intact legs, is clunky and imprecise, a problem that’s exacerbated by the jerky cadence of walking with a broken limb. Nothing feels quite as tight as one would want from a platformer—I often found myself flying over edges while trying to inch forward, or missing switches and springs when it looked like I should have hit them dead on. That said, these minor frustrations never really kept me stuck for too long.
Legbreaker is currently available as “pay what you want” on itch.io as part of the Finally Finish Something 2020 game jam, but I felt like I got my money’s worth after throwing a few bucks the developer’s way. I would love to see this mechanic adapted to a longer game, but even in its current state as the product of a game jam, Legbreaker is a neat little gem, one whose unique mechanics are definitely worth a half hour of your time.