Posted on 07 Apr 2018 by Sawyer Scherbenske

Into The Breach

The Defence

Developer: Subset Games
Publisher: Subset Games
Genre: Indie, Strategy, Turn-Based
Platform: PC
Review copy: Yes
Release date: 27 Feb 2018

The Prosecution

Minimum
OS: Windows
CPU: Intel equivalent
VGA: Intel HD 3000 w/ OpenGL 2.1 Support or better
RAM: 1 GB
HDD: 300 GB
DirectX: OpenGL
Controller: None
Mod Support: Unknown
VR: No
FOV Slider: No
FPS Lock: Unknown

The Case

Into the Breach has quite a legacy to live up to. Not only is it the younger brother of critically successful strategy roguelike FTL, but it’s also had a solid three year development and lots of inspiration from XCOM: Enemy Unknown and Pacific Rim. In summary, Into the Breach should be amazing, and it is! That being said, Into the Breach is not like FTL, and clearly shows that Subset Games wanted to make something new, different, and in my opinion, better.

The Trial

The first scene of Into the Breach is a shot of a Pacific Rim-esque shot of Ralph standing besides his mech before going into about 15 seconds of story. That 15 seconds about lost timelines, going to the past, and the future of mankind is the most significant story you’re going to get because Into the Breach gets you to the action fast.

From there you’re warped to the actual game where you pick your 3 mechs and start punching giant alien bugs away from buildings. The story is flimsy but enough to serve as context and give you a reason to travel across 2-4 islands on each timeline and give you a reason to beat the evil aliens. That fast, punchy, gameplay is the joy of Into the Breach. With just three robots, 3-5 enemies on screen at a time, and all the action taking place on a small 8×8 or smaller grid, turns don’t take long. The action is fast. It’s so fast that there’s an achievement for completing half the game in under 30 minutes and I unwittingly achieved it playing it at my regular speed in my first two hours.

Manipulating the battlefield is very satisfying.

That speed comes mostly from the 8×8 grid that ensures that you, the baddies, and the power buildings you’re protecting are all packed together at all times. Turns can turn into 30 minute thinking episodes for the perfectionist but most play out in less than 30 seconds. No matter how long, every turn is thrilling as you frantically try to figure out the best way to bounce, throw, or push your enemies away from buildings and towards hazards like balls on a pool table, or just zap them into submission.

Protecting those buildings is important too and will probably be the #1 reason you lose. The moment that you lose too many buildings across each game, or lose all your mech’s health in a single match, you lose. It’s hard to protect both your health and buildings at the same time, which is why you have to be smart about positioning and your environment. Some aliens die if they’re pushed into water, others have low health, and even the strongest enemies can be moved to tiles with fire or acid. Of course, most of your mechs don’t do well when they’re frozen, in acid, can’t see, or on fire either, so positioning adds another level of complexity to combat.

 

The campaign map is semi-random too.

New 3-member robot teams will be unlocked with money you earn from achievements, while new pilots for those robots will show up as you play similar to FTL. All in all there are 24 mechs and 13 pilots that all feel utterly distinct. These 24 mechs are separated into eight teams, each featuring an up-close attacker, ranged attacker, and some kind of utility mech with no damage potential but amazing positioning power. You can take a recommended team or assemble your own after unlocking a few mechs.

While the 24 mechs will take a while to master, the enemy roster is pretty limited with only 14 enemy types with multiple re-skins of each. Each enemy type attacks in a fairly unique way, but their weaknesses usually boil down to “push them into a thing” or “punch them,” meaning that they get stale after a couple dozen encounters.

Each encounter is supported by a nice soundtrack that keeps the blood pumping and artistically styled sprites that bob to the action. Each attack looks as unique as the mechs are, ranging from something as simple as a punch to cryogenically freezing an enemy solid. It’s a decent soundtrack and has an original, clear, and good-looking art style.

The Verdict

Into the Breach is great. Subset Games managed to give the feeling of infinite variability, endless replayability, and fast-paced combat all in a $15 turn-based package. While Civilization and Crusader Kings fulfill the desire for sweeping campaigns with conquest and months passing each turn, Into the Breach feels much more focused, small scale, quick enough that it’ll still be the same month when you finish your run.

Case Review

  • Fast: Quick turns and fast animations keep the action rolling all the way to the end.

  • Smart Combat: You need to learn your enemies, and push them around if you want to win.

  • Replayability: You’ll never see the same grid twice.

  • Mechs: Every mech feels completely unique and takes a different approach to fighting.

  • Few enemy types: The mechs are the heroes of Into the Breach, but they could do with a few more enemy types to square up against.

4.5 Score: 4.5/5
A fantastic game that was developed by the FTL team, took inspiration from XCOM, and turned out more fun than both.

Evidence

  • Settings: Settings are bare-bones. Most options make small changes to the UI or tweak gameplay minorly in the case of things like “disable screen shake” or the “colorblind mode.”
  • Audio: There are two sliders; one for music, and one for effects. There is a toggleable mute option for all game volume too.
  • Control: Hotkeys are fully customizable, though the base game does a good job of setting the keys to simple number keys. Into the Breach isn't technically complicated, and should not require many control tweaks.

Appeal

5 Score: 5/5

Into the Breach is a game developed by the same folks who had their magical hands all over FTL. It’s not hard to see the similarities and I’m glad of that personally. I find that they did a seriously good job on this new addition to their repertoire. It’s hard to imagine this game if someone else had put their hands on it. The game is fun, challenging, and welcome addition to the strategy game front. I’ve personally put a lot of time into it and plan on putting a heck of a lot more. While I do admit that I like the game, I will also admit that I find it far too difficult for me to play on normal. I’ve spent many hours on a lot of failures early on without getting the slightest bit more capable of succeeding. Though this is a big hit for most games, I know it’s my own ability that’s lacking here so I won’t fault it anything for that.

The game features a lot of unique mechs with a variety of different play styles that are just plain delightful. While some of the mechs feel like they could use a little something extra it’s also just fine the way it is. The ability to make your own team out of the available teams is another serious bonus. Add in a bit of customization and you’re sitting pretty in your shiny sand colored Judo Mech who throws enemies around like ragdolls. The upgrade system is splendidly well rounded. It comes offering you not only different choices on which mechs to send in and numerous abilities and weapons to focus your energy into. The ability to swap stuff around if it doesn’t work out is amazing as well. The reactor situation does flash of FTL as well, so that’s a good connection.

The Vek are fairly interest themselves and there is a great amount of enemy variety. The missions complexity varies and the difficulty of the situation can be dramatically changed by what pops out of the ground. Sometimes it’s changed more by what you stop from popping out by standing your butt on top of their spawn spot. The graphics are well done, I typically don’t care for pixel-art games, but I can’t see any flaws with the way Subset Games uses it. Lastly, the ability to pick one of your pilots, who all have unique abilities, and variable game length make this a serious winner.

Appeal

5 Score: 5/5

Subset Games have taken a genre that has been expanding to greater and greater scale over the past two decades and has squashed it all down into an 8×8 grid with only a handful of units on the map at any one time. Typically you’ll be in control of 1-3 mechs with an additional couple of vehicles such as tanks or artillery if the mission calls for it, or if you’ve got an ability to launch a support tank from your mech. By treating this handful of mechs as meaningful members of your team rather than disposable units, Subset Games have created a natural desire to keep them and their pilots alive. Not only that but the drive to upgrade them is present also, you’ll want to supply them with power cores to bring more upgrades such as extra health or a secondary weapon online.

During gameplay you’ll be conquering between two and four islands, and then a final climactic battle. Each island consists of regions filled with randomly generated missions so each playthrough is completely different. Your goals will remain the same; save civilians and keep your power grid from falling to zero. The latter goal will ensure your continued survival as it’s the failure condition for each campaign. Your enemies, the Vek, will target buildings which lower the power grid value when damaged. Lose too many buildings and your mission is over. You can avoid this by the inventive combat system that allows you to push, pull, block spawns, disable attacks, redirect abilities, throw up shields, and generally manipulate your enemies into positions advantageous to you. This is all aided along by the ability to see enemies actions during your turn.

Into The Breach plays like a hybrid of turn based strategy and puzzle game. Don’t let that put you off; this isn’t some puzzle with one solid solution but rather a puzzle where you’ll sit, stumped for ten minutes, working out what combination of moves to make to get the result you want. It’s a little bit like chess if the knights were skyscraper sized mechs and the pawns were giant bugs. And they beat the hell out of eachother. It’s easily the most satisfying strategy game of the last several years and the 24 mechs on offer, along with numerous pilots, upgrades, and weapons, give the game plenty of variety to keep repeat playthroughs entertaining. I can’t recommend Into The Breach enough.

Labels
    No labels.
Related news
No related news.
Related articles
No related articles.

Comments (2)


Posts: 1
Adison
Posted 08 Apr 2018, 23:17
Minor Update: I beat it on normal a few times. ;=; So hard though!

Posts: 325
L Coulsen
Posted 09 Apr 2018, 07:00
That's what she said