Into the Breach puts you in the shoes of time traveling mech-pilots that are attempting to save as many timelines as possible from the Vek, a species of building sizes bugs that would much appreciate human civilization not existing. As traditional weaponry has proved ineffectual, your squad of three giant robots is the only thing capable of wiping the threat off the face of the Earth. As classic as it gets, but the beauty comes in the form of the game itself.
The first of the eight unique squads you can play as.
Into the Breach is a fun little grid-based strategy game that seems deceptively simple at first glance but will instantly punish you for taking it lightly. Your mechs’ abilities are quite ordinary; punch an enemy to knock them back one square and deal 3 damage. Shoot an enemy to knock them back one square and deal 1 damage. Easy, right? Well, that’s how they get you. When an enemy is moved by your (or its allies’) attacks, their attack pattern stays the same. So, if you just saved a civilian building by knocking an enemy away, you might have just doomed their neighbours or one of your own mechs who now stand in the path of the acid blob that’s about to be spat out. This still sounds easy enough, but when you deal with four bugs with unique attacks in the middle of a civilian suburb, you’ll soon realize that each move of yours must be taken with caution.
Literally the first turn of the first mission. I swear, it’s not as bad as it looks.
As stressful as they are, those difficult situations are also the main attraction of the game. You start each turn looking at a hopeless puzzle, yet you pull through and feel like a genius for doing so. Even if it seems impossible, there is always a correct play that turns the tide, or at least holds it back for a moment. It’s no shame to win via timeout, since every mission last for only a few turns, and every objective other than survival is just an added bonus. It’s not your mechs that you’re supposed to protect though, since your campaign health bar is counted in civilian casualties.
All your classic biomes: forest, desert, arctic, and… high tech nuclear wasteland.
The future Earth that the game takes place in has only four large islands that are still populated by humans, and you luckily have to only save two of these to be able to take on the last mission. However, the more islands you save, the more experience you gain and upgrades you purchase for your lethal toys, making them just straight up stronger, as well as more varied and complex in their playstyles. It’s not all positive though, since the Vek will also grow stronger the more time you give them, so you’ll have to make the decision of whether you want to grow stronger with the added risk of losing your precious pilots. When a mech is destroyed in battle, it will work just as well as it did before next time, but you will lose whoever was riding said mech at the time. As pilots level up with each battle and gain abilities of their own, it is heart breaking to permanently lose someone on the last island, since there’s no time to level up the next pilot.
Into the Breach is game that is very lightweight with its aesthetics, story and starter difficulty, yet as time goes on it gets more and more intense and deep in its mechanics. I once spent 40 minutes thinking about a single turn in the final mission, finally got the answer to the situation, and felt like a true hero. At least until the next turn in which I was again stuck with a new nigh impossible conundrum. This is what strategy games are all about.
All pictures used are screenshots taken by the author.
Developer: Subset Games
Publisher: Subset Games
Platforms: Nintendo Switch, Linux, macOS, Microsoft Windows, Google Stadia, Mac OS
Release Date: February 27, 2018
Genres: Roguelike, Indie, RPG, Simulation, Strategy