A piece of concept art of the skeleton main character.

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 undead from gaining the power to wipe out the living!

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, its minimum feature set will include:

- Several massive levels with multiple routes!
- Both a boss and miniboss for each level!
- Penultimate and final bosses!
- Hidden extras that can change up gameplay and the ending!
- Time Attack Mode!
- Boss Rush Mode!
- Sound Test Mode!
- Versions for Windows, Linux, and OSX!

When can I play the real thing?

As mentioned above, this game is still in very early development- it's a long way from finished! If we're able to fund development soon, our safe estimate is early Q3 2021, but who knows?

Funding? What's that about?

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 have no capital on which to survive during development and, as previously mentioned, the game is still in very early development and nowhere near complete, so our ability to work on this game unhindered will depend entirely on your generous donations and pre-orders. Help us make this our job so that we can bring you the best game we can in far less time than it would take to do this as a hobby!

If you'd like to let us know when and how you can help, and help us structure a funding campaign better-tailored to our audience, please take a few moments to fill out this survey. We very much appreciate your input, and thank you for taking the time to assist!

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! Based on your feedback, we will choose a time and platform at which to begin the funding campaign, where you will be able to pre-purchase the game along with receiving other perks and rewards, so stay tuned to see what will be 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 @Head_cannon and/or @HCStealth on Twitter, or keep an eye on the Headcannon website for more information as it becomes available!

What platforms is it on?

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

How do I play right now?

To play the demo, click on the image below to get the "", 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!

How do I change the window size?

F4 - Toggle Full-Screen
F5 - Toggle Double Window Size

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- Up / Down) (Alternate- Left Trigger / Right Trigger)
While hanging from a grapple, use these buttons to lengthen or shorten the line!

Zip Button - (Default- X)
While holding on to the level or an enemy with the grapple, tap to initiate a zip!

A piece of concept art of a monster.

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 -
The founder of headcannon, grew up in the 80s and 90s. Deeply inspired by video games of those eras, he took his craft from long-time hobby to direct cooperation with one of his favorite developers, SEGA, in the creation of not one, or even two, but three classic Sonic releases!

Andy “A+Start” Collins - Lead Artist -
He has a dual-dedication to video games in his "Son of a Glitch" and other series on popular YouTube channel "A+Start" and his interest in pixel graphics. To-date his pixel art has been a hobby, but his work is already well-beyond reproach!

Matthew Weekes - Environmental Artist / Level Designer -
He has a history in commercial indie games, with specialization in environmental pixel art. His previous works include Retro goodness Kynseed, the more "16-bit"-like Freedom Planet, and the indie game that runs on an actual Sega Genesis/Mega Drive, Tanglewood! He is a Level Artist and Lead Level Designer for "Vertebreaker".

Michael Staple - Music and Sound Lead -
A very talented musician, who has already hit the commercial indie scene with his contributions to Spark the Electric Jester! He has a deep love for the smooth sounds of the YM2612 FM chip that was included in the Sega Genesis/Mega Drive.

Rick Danto - Game/Scenario/Character Design / Sprite Artist -
Another "old timer", with some real talent for sprite pixel animations and some neat ideas! He has provided much of the basis for "Vertebreaker"'s story and main characters as well as a (skele)ton of main player animation and enemy sprites, but has since become unable to continue with the project. We wish him well.

“FUNKVESSEL” - Concept Artist -
A professional graphic designer, illustrator and animator who's obsessed with Treasure and Konami! Was considered part of a duo with Rick, and has provided some excellent concepts for "Vertebreaker".

Noah “Mr. Poe” Hall - Game/Engine Programmer -
Hadn't even been born until the 90s was right at its end, but looks back on the era's technology with the same fondness and fascination as someone who had lived through it; his hobbies actually include programming for the Sega Saturn!

Derrek “TheStoneBanana” Harbold - Game/Engine Programmer -
Our youngest member has also developed a love for classic gaming from the 90s, studying their inner workings as a hobby!

“SPD!” - Project/Business Manager / Misc Artist -
Yet another 80s/90s kid. Multi-talented and has a knack for keeping things organized and running smoothly!

The skeleton main character of Vertebreaker swinging from a ceiling using his whip. The skeleton main character of Vertebreaker pushing off the ground with his whip. The skeleton main character of Vertebreaker swinging from a tree with his whip. A screenshot of Vertebreaker.