Into the Breach Review - Addicting, Fun, Unforgiving
With a masterfully designed combat system and a plethora of playstyles, Into the Breach is one of the most engaging strategy games ever made.
From Subset Games, the geniuses behind FTL: Faster Than Light, Into the Breach shows us a world enveloped by chaos. Take control of a time travelling pilot to prevent Earth’s doom from an alien infestation. Whenever the Vek ultimately defeat the player, you must jump into the past to try again.
The great thing about Into the Breach is its simplicity. The game doesn’t possess a convoluted menu, skill tree, or combat system. It thrives on being an easy-to-learn strategy title that anyone can pick up. However, due to the thoughtful design, it’s quite difficult to master, mainly because of the way battles are structured.
Every enemy choreographs their attack, and once your turn comes, you have to figure out how to stop that attack or minimize the damage it will cause.
In the end, the battles are less about destroying your opponent and instead more about stopping them from obliterating you. To do this, you must employ incredibly clever strategies that will either make you feel good about yourself, or get you killed because of an idiotic mistake.
Difficulty and Gameplay
Into the Breach revolves around how much power the Earth has left, and the game starts the player off with five cells. If your power grid reaches zero, you lose the game. This health bar is carried across your entire playthrough, which usually consists of ten to fifteen battles. A horrifying aspect of this is that you can lose all your power in a single battle. It takes one mistake to undo all of your progress, and it’s what makes the combat so horrifying.
The game is clearly unforgiving, as enemies won’t adapt to what you can currently do. There’s not always an answer, and occasionally, you find yourself in a position where you can’t win. The only option at this point is to employ the tactic that will make you take the least damage, but even then, this can sometimes make things worse. Thankfully, you can earn more power cells from completing a mission or spending your Reputation on them.
Fighting the Vek can be done with the many abilities you receive, consisting mostly of pushing the enemies, shielding structures, or if you’re in a good position, killing them. Additionally, every mech has a repair option available which will take a turn to complete. Mech Reactors, which are the game's upgrade system, can help a lot. These allow you to improve your health, movement, and weapons.
You can get these upgrades with Reputation, which are gained from completing missions that have star symbols on them. Mech Reactors can also be found in a Time Pod, which are dropped in random missions.
Additionally, Reputation is used to buy many new abilities, like a lightning attack, an area of effect shield, or a group heal. This currency can only be spent once you complete an island. There are four islands and each one has a different theme: a forest, a desert, a snowy wasteland, and a dystopianwasteland.
The pilots also have a level up system where they can get two extra abilities as you progress. However, if a pilot dies, they cannot be revived, and all the abilities they had are lost. Whenever you lose the game, you’re allowed to take a single pilot with you back in time. This is incredibly useful, as unsuccessful missions can still get you something, making your next playthrough a bit easier.
Currency and Different Squads
As the player gets achievements, they earn coins. This currency system allows the purchase of other types of mechs, letting the player create their own squad. This system keeps things fresh, as every new robot changes the game drastically. You must employ different tactics, alternate ways of thinking, and shift your mindset entirely.
Each group consists of three mechs with different abilities. I started my first game with the default squad. This original team had a robot that could punch enemies away while dealing damage, a tank that could blow away Vek, and an artillery cannon that can shoot enemies from far away.
These three mechs worked well, but they had a slight problem of being overly aggressive. In a game about defense, it was quite difficult to win with them. It took four losses before earning enough coins to try a different group.
Thankfully, as soon as I switched to the Zenith Guard, it took a single playthrough to secure my first victory. This group had a mech with a long ranged laser cannon, a tank that could charge itself into the Vek, and the golden cherry on top was the floating defense tower that could move enemies and shield structures. This Defense Mech has saved my life more times than I can count, and it worked beautifully to protect against the Vek.
Two other squads I tried were the Flame Behemoths, which were incredibly fun with their explosive power, and the Blitzkrieg, which were awfully tough to use because of their self-destructive tactics.
Soundtrack and Visuals
While the visuals may seem old-school, they're quite polished. The transitions, choreographed attacks, and animations are very well made. It doesn't try too hard to be flashy or sophisticated, as Subset Games were more focused on having the player understand what's going on rather than visually bombard us. However, the simple designs still look great.
Additionally, the soundtrack allows for each situation to be more intense. Sometimes it can provide a genuine feeling of uneasiness, while other times the player will feel like a hero.
Into the Breach is one of the greatest strategy games I’ve ever played. The brilliance of its game design is undeniable, and the addictive mechanics are engaging.
It’s incredibly rewarding, and the many different tactics you can employ to defeat the Vek infestation are wildly satisfying.
|Simple Combat System|
|Genius Game Design|
|Easy to Learn|