While everyone was freaking out about the Razer Toaster becoming a real thing, Razer has been quietly turning another April Fools' joke (opens in new tab) into reality. Today the company announced its first consumable, Respawn, a 'mental enhancement' drink powder with 95mg of caffeine, vitamins, and some fiber—and they sent me a box of samples to try.
Unlike regular energy drinks, Respawn isn't overloaded with caffeine and excess sugar, yet still promises to "support increased focus, reaction time, and mental stamina." I'm skeptical when it comes to weird gaming gadgets or gaming-branded consumables, especially ones that claim to make you a better gamer by any margin, but I'll try any new thing with caffeine in it because so few caffeine products work for me, and my mental stamina seems to be decreasing as I get older.
In short, my body and caffeine do not get along. A single cup a coffee, even with cream and sugar, will send my body into an anxiety attack, my heart palpitating as if I'm running for my life while sitting still. And when all that finally goes away, I crash hard. I can't even take an Excedrin for a headache without getting shaky from the caffeine in it. However, the caffeine in a cup of black tea does nothing to my body, not even jolt it awake a little bit.
The only caffeinated beverage that works to give me a steady stream of energy throughout the day without crashing is V8 +Energy. I'm not a doctor or a nutritionist, but I've wondered if my body just likes the combo of green tea caffeine and the vitamins in V8 better than anything else. Literally nothing else works to wake me up in the morning, other than my cat sitting on my face. So, I was curious to see how Respawn stacked up against my usual go-go juice.
While Respawn has 15 more milligrams of caffeine than V8 +Energy in one serving, the flavors are a million times better. Unlike V8 +Energy, which is a condensed flavor in 8 oz of liquid, Respawn is a powdered drink mix that you add to 16-20 oz of cold water. The flavor profiles are neither overpowering nor watered down, have 0g of sugar, and come in four flavors. Ranked in order of tastiness: Pomegranate Watermelon, Blue Raspberry, Green Apple, and Tropical Pineapple. The powdered drink mix dissolves instantly in cold water, so you don't need to worry about swallowing a mouthful of grainy liquid as you finish the final gulp in your glass. There's also a Respawn-branded 20 oz insulated metal shaker cup (sold separately) with plastic spokes to aid in dissolution, but any similar shaker bottle will do the trick just as well.
Razer Respawn surprised me with their Green Apple flavor; I despise artificial apple-flavored anything. If I had to choose between getting a deep cleaning at the dentist and apple flavor, I'd choose the dentist every time. But I was able to finish 20 oz of the green apple-flavored Respawn drink mix and enjoy it at the same time. I can't say the same for the pineapple flavor, though. I hate the taste of regular pineapple, so I wasn't shocked when I didn't like this artificial pineapple. This is purely a personal preference, so normal pineapple fans might like the Respawn flavor.
While we're at it, let's compare nutritional facts to my now forgotten V8 +Energy for a second; Respawn has fewer calories, more fiber, and you get 100 percent of your daily servings of Vitamin B3, Vitamin B6, Vitamin B12, and Vitamin B5, which V8 +Energy doesn't come close to. Way to be healthy, Razer! I still can't drink more than one-and-a-half servings or else my body has a caffeine-induced freakout, but the caffeine combined with the vitamins does what it's supposed to do: wake me up.
But did Respawn help me be a better gamer? While playing Overwatch, it felt like my reaction time was increased. It felt like I was more focused. But my weapon accuracy and elimination count was on-par with how I usually do sans-caffeine. Now, there came a point where I was playing as Bastion and it took the entire enemy team to take me down because I kept hopping around and healing myself (which prompted an 'OMG JUST F-ING DIE ALREADY' in chat from one of their players), so I guess my reaction time was better, but any other caffeinated beverages would have the same effect, so Respawn can't claim exclusivity on that.
I also didn't feel like it helped me game for longer periods of time. In fact, while I felt an initial burst of energy, about 30 minutes to an hour later I started to feel a tad sluggish. The crash is nothing compared to traditional caffeine products or energy drinks, though, and getting up and walking around helped mitigate the effects. (I mean, the healthy thing to do after sitting in front of a computer for a long time is to get up and walk around, right?) That's the one thing V8 + Energy has over Respawn; I don't crash in any way after drinking it.
Would I keep packets of Respawn in my pantry for the mornings that seem too tough to face without a delicious caffeinated beverage? Sure. It'd be great if they have a future version with less caffeine, as 80mg seems to be the magic number I need to maintain a consistent level of energy and focus without any kind of crash. Or I could use less powder when making my drink, but that would make too much sense.