Into the Breach
Into the Breach is a rogue-like strategy game, where you control three Mecha pilots trying to save the remnants of civilization from the Vek – giant bug-like creatures seeking to destroy mankind.
The final line of defense is set on four little islands where you’ll spend the game – the last stand against the Vek. The premise seems pretty straightforward by now, right? Well, it gets weirder – these pilots are actually part of a time traveling unit, the Rift Walkers, who are trying to defend infinite timelines from the Vek menace, so you can expect to fail (miserably) a couple dozen times before actually saving the day.
Although it seems like a poor excuse to allow replayability, the game considerably changes with every replay. Into the Breach is procedurally generated, so every map, every monster, and every objective will be different with each run. Also, you’re presented with a crucial choice at the end of each game –you can choose one of your pilots to travel to another timeline, keeping all of his progress for future replays.
This game is merciless and brutal, seriously, don’t get distracted by the cutesy 8-bit graphics, those bugs will definitely destroy you the first couple times, not only because they pack quite a punch and come in overwhelming numbers, but because the game has a lot of things to juggle around - you have to protect the ally structures, destroy the Vek and complete any available objective for that particular map.
To some, this premise may sound familiar to FTL, and that's because this game is from the same wicked developers (Subset Games) that love to see us suffer countless deaths before even knowing how to progress. The game has a graphical and musical likeness to FTL, with small but defined animations that portray what you need to see and a minimalistic soundtrack that keeps you at the edge of your seat while staying focused on the action.
It's a little confusing to explain the complexity of Into the Breach since the actual mechanics of the game is simple to understand, similar to older games like the Advance Wars franchise or X-COM:
You select a combination of 3 pilots and their Mechas to deploy them into sections of the islands threatened by the Vek. There's an orange bar in the center of the screen that displays your "Power Grid," this is fairly important since it’s your shared “Health Points,” if they ever reach 0 it’s game over, and you'll have to travel back in time.
You can recover energy after completing objectives, but losing it is too easy, every time the Vek attack or destroy a building in the map the Power goes down. This means you want to protect those precious buildings and power plants.
After setting out to defend a section of the island, you land into an 8x8 grid where the battle takes place. After that, it's just a matter of moving the pieces around the board, similar to games like Fire Emblem, Advance Wars, and X-COM until you survive the required turns.
Each Mecha has set actions: Move, attack, and their unique abilities. You just have to think of a strategy to use these actions to protect the citizens, defeat the Vek and survive.
Sounds simple, right? However, when a dozen of these bugs are assaulting the city, and you're juggling between completing the bonus objectives, managing your pilot's health, protecting the civilian buildings, and any other environmental risk, the stakes, and the tension rises.
Veks come in varied shapes just like your mechas, each with different actions and targets. The strategy mechanics allow you to push the Vek around the board, causing them to collide with each other and hopefully destroying them in the process, amongst many other exciting possibilities.
More than a strategy game, Into the Breach feels similar to a puzzle game, you’ll find yourself thinking over and over which Mecha to move, what to do, and how to complete every objective without taking too many risks.
Thankfully you have a couple options that aid you, for example, there’s an “Undo Button” that lets you change your mind about a movement gone wrong, and if you feel you went awfully wrong turns ago you can “Reset Time” and start the whole conflict from scratch.
Is it worth playing?
Into the Breach is an excellent game with minimalistic graphics, if you like puzzles and strategy games you'll invest dozens of hours just to complete one run and scores more trying to unlock every squad of mechas available, complete every bonus objective, and try every possible combination.
Since the game is procedurally generated, you can play over and over and run into different situations every time. However, keep in mind that sometimes this can turn against you, especially in the early games you'll run into impossible situations where the Vek are just too many, they spawn in perfect spots right next to that power plant you had to defend, and you're just too weak.
But isn't that the beauty of the game? Trying every possible combination against odds that seem impossible, that will test your patience and skills until you eventually find the right combination of mechas and the perfect strategy to conquer the Vek.
How does it stack up?Gameplay: 9/10
Fun Factor! 8/10
Game length: From 4 hours (a perfect run) to 60+ hours to obtain every single unlockable
Who will like this game? Players looking for challenging gameplay and deep strategy games akin to puzzles.
Pros: Replayability factor. You can play a hundred games, and they will all be different. Excellent gameplay. The game is easy to learn, but like many others, hard to master the multitude of settings and combinations. Choose your own Mechas, weapons, pilots, and upgrades for a different experience and challenge.
Cons: Sometimes the procedural generation puts you in impossible to solve situations There are only 4 islands plus a final setting, making the game “technically” short.
Where to Get It: Into the Breach is currently available on Steam.