Today we'll be talking about Into the Breach--the newest game from the esteemed creators of the 2012 hit FTL.
This is how I imagine my Into the Breach playthrough:
Once upon a time, there was a group of three friends who wanted to be mecha pilots.
These friends worked very hard, every day, to become the best world-saving pilots that they could be. Finally, they were ready. After taking on contracts (which probably didn't pay enough) from a series of corporations to defend the remains of humanity, the team of three heroes dropped onto the battlefield, ready to kick some ass.
They all died horrible deaths, blown to smithereens or melted by thick, acidic, insectoid-spit.
Luckily, their mecha was repairable and the AI inside them was able to go on and save the day! Hooray! /end of story
Just like Subset Games' previous title (Faster Than Light) Into the Breach pits you against any number of randomly generated scenarios with a sci-fi backdrop. This time, though, you'll be taking control of individual mecha to go up against a giant, nasty insects in a turn-based, grid-bound strategy experience.
It's like Subset decided to take Pacific Rim and mix in some Advance Wars... Which is pretty damned cool when you think about it (seriously, think about it!)
Into the Breach isn't super heavy on the story--if you were hoping for something with emotional depth beyond the frustration and elation that comes from victory or defeat, this game isn't for you. But it shines in other areas. The tight gameplay mechanics, the well-designed music, and the charming graphics will keep you coming back for at least a daily dose of randomized punishment.
And, as is the trend these days, Into the Breach is difficult.
But it's not just the difficulty that makes Into the Breach stand out. The game offers one piece of information that most strategy games don't: what each enemy unit is planning next turn. This one tiny change to the formula transforms Into the Breach from "just another strategy game", into an elaborate puzzle/strategy hybrid. One that relies on a thorough understanding of your current mecha abilities, the enemy units, and the rules of the board to successfully work your way through round after brutal round.
Since you know EXACTLY what will happen before you commit to your actions, at the end of every round you'll ask yourself this question: What could I have done better?
And you really need to think about that, since the game will punish you for mistakes. You will start out overwhelmed--that's a given. But if you forget to pay attention to enemy spawns for that round? Yeah. Ya dead. If you forget to perform your attacks in the proper order, you can miss out on a great combo that might save the lives of your pilots or civilians.
Even positioning, both for your squad and the enemy, plays a vital role--and not just to do slightly more damage or increase accuracy like in most strategy games. Proper positioning means you can move your opponents with any number of abilities. Why spend three turns whittling away at a ground unit, when you could push them into a chasm, or right into one of the many map-specific hazards like airstrikes or gaping chasms? And the game really rewards this kind of strategic thinking--should you complete the bonus objectives for each mission, you can power up your mecha more quickly, or repair the all-important grid (Into the Breach's version of your overall HP bar)
Perhaps the most important lesson I learned while playing is the role of sacrifice. Sometimes (a lot of the time) a pilot has to go down in order to maximize your chances of success... And sometimes you have to let civilians die in order to take down a boss and prevent more losses next turn.
All in all, Into the Breach is another great game by a great developer. Even if it doesn't quite recapture the magic that was FTL, Subset has made yet another game that you can come back to time and again.
Since I don't believe in numeric scores... Here's what you need to know!
You'll like this game if:
- You like turn-based strategy and don't mind losing.
- You enjoy problem-solving and thinking ahead.
- You like to make bad mecha sounds (Chhhweert. Chiiink. Chiiiiiiinkqe. Pachang, pachang!) while pretending to punch enormous insects in the FACE.
Final Score: Highly Recommended!