Break the Dream Cycle – Boss Rush Jam

Hot on the heels of TriJam 203 came Boss Rush Jam. The goal of Boss Rush Jam is to make a boss rush game – a game that consists mostly of boss fights with not much else in between.

Break the Dream Cycle is an updated, improved and expanded version of Break the Cycle, my entry for TriJam 203. Because Break the Cycle fit the category of a boss rush, I enjoyed the project and it it fit within the rules for Boss Rush Jam regarding submission to other jams, I decided to see how far I could push it with the expanded deadline of a week or more compared to TriJam’s 3 hours.

The first thing I did was to update the artwork, replacing the static player sprite with an animated one. I took one of Kenney’s character models and animations in Blender and used an orthographic camera at 50% frame rate to render several frames of walking and idle animation. Next I updated the snake boss asset to look more like a snake and more menacing.

I wanted to expand the game and my initial idea was to add 3 extra bosses, a deer, a wolf and a bear. As you may remember from Break the Cycle the player starts with no abilities and can only move through the nightmare world in which they’ve found themselves, however with each death a little of the world imparts on them, granting them abilities from the boss that killed them.

Building on this I wanted each boss to give you a different type of ability or at least become easier by the use of an unlocked ability to help defeat them. The snake gives you its venom shot and blood bomb, the deer would give you the ability to dash if you were (un)lucky enough to take damage from it. The wolf would require the dodge to avoid its bites and the bear would require all of the abilities to effectively defeat it.

With this came the additional challenge of creating separate level designs for each boss, as well as creating a consistent art style for all 4 beasts. The snake had its original hall-like space, the deer would have a forest, the wolf would have it arena in a clearing in the forest and the bear would fight in a cave.

In the end I settled for just 3 bosses, the snake, deer and bear bosses, partially due to time, partially due to not being able to think of a good way to differentiate the wolf and bear bosses, both visually and in terms of play style.

The theme for the jam was Makeshift and I decided to add an additional mechanism to the game to take the theme into account. I added an ability to make a makeshift shield from broken trees in the forest when fighting the deer. I also made a makeshift weapon in the form of cracks in the ground that cause rocks to fall on the bear in his cave.

Overall I think this was a massive improvement over the original game. I was able to flesh out more story, giving it a little more lore and hopefully justifying the looping nature of the game somewhat.

One common complain in the ratings was that the character moved too slowly and I agree, this will be improved in a future update. I would also like to “finish” the bear boss as I struggled to get it working how I wanted and it was by far the easiest of the 3 bosses in the game.

You can try the game for free on

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