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Project Overview

What is Vertebreaker?

Vertebreaker is a fast-paced action platformer with a hook - a grappling hook! Slash away at enemies and swing around the level on a bungee line! Zip to higher places or to gain speed! You are a skeleton on a mission - stop the forces of the dead from gaining the power to wipe out the living!​

What is a "Technical Preview"?

This game is still in very early development, and what we're presenting is a small gameplay sample to let you feel how it will play. The content doesn't necessarily represent our complete vision for the game, but we did aim for quality in what little we've made available! When the game is complete, it will feature 6 huge levels to explore, more enemies to fight, various gimmicks to use or overcome, Minibosses and Bosses for each level, and a whole lot more!​

When can I play the real thing?

As mentioned above, this game is still in very early development. We have a little more going than what you see here, but it's a long way from finished! Our safe estimate is early Q3 2021, but who knows? Before that, though, there will be a more complete demo released on Halloween when the Kickstarter launches!​

There's a Kickstarter?

That's right! We want to put as much focus on this project as possible, several of us working full-time, and we need your help to do that! We'll set a minimum goal to sustain the team through development of the smallest version of the game, but if that goal is exceeded, we will be able to do even more! Backers can also pre-purchase the complete game at a discount, as well as a few other perks, so check out the Kickstarter when it launches this year on October 31 to see what's on offer! Play the full demo at that time and consider backing; the higher we go, the more we can do with the game!​
Follow @HCStealth and/or @Head_cannon on Twitter, or keep an eye on the Headcannon website for more information as it becomes available!​

What platforms is it on?

Currently, the "Technical Preview" is Windows-only. The full demo is planned to support Windows, MacOS, and Linux, as is the completed game! Consoles...? We'll look into it!​

How do I play right now?

To play the Technical Demo, just download the attached "Vertebreaker.rar", open it and drag the files into a folder of their own, and then run "Vertebreaker.exe" for 32bit Windows or "Vertebreaker64.exe" for 64bit Windows! Both DirectInput and XInput game controllers are supported as well as play by keyboard!​

What are the controls?

Attack Button - (Default- X)​
Perform a slash attack to swipe at enemies. Follow-up with a combo with the right timing!​
Grapple Button - (Default- Right Bumper)​
Fire off the grapple for a variety of functions-​
-Hold to swing around the level or grab onto enemies! Release to carry momentum or draw a captured enemy closer!​
-Tap to zip toward or along walls, or at enemies! Zipping at enemies will perform a kick attack, and zipping along the floor will perform a rolling attack that can toss enemies in the air!​

Jump Button - (Default- A)​
Jump when on the ground, or jump from a grapple swing to gain an extra boost!​

Retract/Extend Buttons - (Default- Left Trigger / Right Trigger)​
While hanging from a grapple, use these buttons to lengthen or shorten the line!​
Zip Button - (Default- Left Bumper)​
While holding on to the level or an enemy with the grapple, tap to initiate a zip!​

Who's Involved?

Vertebreaker is being developed under the Headcannon brand, which you may recognize as one of the developers behind Sonic the Hedgehog's triumphant return-to-form, Sonic Mania! More specifically, though, there are several fine individuals responsible for what's happening here, so be sure to cheer them on and let them know how much you love their work!​

  • Simon “Stealth” Thomley - Lead Developer / Lead Game/Engine Programmer
    Headcannon Website | Youtube | Twitter | Company Twitter

  • Andy “A+Start” Collins - Lead Artist
    Youtube | Twitter

  • Matthew Weekes - Environmental Artist / Level Designer

  • Michael Staple - Music and Sound Lead
    Website | Youtube | Twitter

  • Rick Danto - Game/Scenario/Character Design / Sprite Artist
    (No Link)

  • Noah “Mr. Poe” Hall - Game/Engine Programmer

  • Derrek "TheStoneBanana" Harbold - Game/Engine Programmer

  • “FUNKVESSEL” - Concept Artist / Sprite Artist

  • "SPD!" - Project/Business Manager / Misc Artist
    (No Link)

BRB, Getting QPU-aligned...​

Latest reviews

It is very difficult and unusual, over time you get used to it and it becomes fun. It is beautifully drawn. The gameplay is certainly interesting, not exactly slow, but not always fast, but it is not for me.
This has potential to be a really great game, but I feel like a few things could stand to be worked on.

The combat with enemies is probably my biggest gripe. It's fairly cumbersome to fight with them when they bounce around as much as they do upon being hit, with the green troll enemies often flying off platforms while I'm trying to dispatch them. The enemies tend to have more health than they really need as well, making them feel damage spongy. I'd suggest having enemies take a maximum of two hits, so that they still have some combo potential but don't take too long to deal with. The flying enemy in particular would probably benefit from only having one HP.

Some more minor complaints are that the health bar is quite difficult to read (maybe make the broken parts a different color?) and that it's difficult to tell when you've taken damage from something.

Otherwise, I love the sprites, animations, and movement mechanics. I'm excited to see this come out as a full game!
  • Like
Reactions: TyuleninSFD
Really snappy controls, and its pretty fun overall~

High points:
I see you took aspects from Vectorman in terms of the sound design~ It works really well, that Genesis-ish feel to the whole of the music and sfx~
-The grappling spine feels really nice to use for platforming and exploration~

Tripping points:
-Not sure I particularly like how heavy that jump feels. I could get used to it, yeah, but on the way, I got(hem hem) chrome-domed in the bone zone. Led to an interesting exchange with a projectile-spitting plant that was more one-sided than I care to admit~


WOW looks like an awesome game, it reminds me of a game I played on sega mega drive, and your a humanoid red beast that can shoot its heat out of its chest etc
Glad to see you back! So, I have to know: What's with the half mask design? Did he steal it from some head basic baddy that was kicking him while he was down?

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