“Dad, Look! They’re here!”
My team of mechs beamed down from orbit. The local populace were understandably overjoyed. When your hometown is under assault by a legion of bugs as big as buildings, there’s few sights prettier than a trio of heavily armed war machines. An alien hornet went for a city block. My towering mech socked it right in its giant insect face. The next turn, I punched it into the sea. At this point, I may or may not have shouted “Get in the fucking sea” at my screen. Into the Breach‘s randomly generated 8×8 grids pack in a lot of fun, if squishing Kaiju with giant robots is your thing. And if it isn’t, you may as well just get in the fucking sea right now.
What makes Into the Breach truly stand out from similar grid and turn-based tactics games is how it refuses to obfuscate information for the sake of melodrama. Not knowing whether your favourite unit is going to dodge that 80% chance shot in other titles might make for tense post-game war stories, but no-one wants an RNG wrench hurled in the general direction of their master plan. The game will keep you constantly informed of things like enemy targets or spawn points, allowing you to plan your strategy accordingly. Granted, I’m a huge proponent of XCOM‘s emergent storytelling, but Into the Breach has a trump card to rival even the most gripping systemic interplay: Into the Breach has Chris Avellone. Speak to me when you’ve written Fallout 2 or Planescape: Torment, so-called future robot overlords*
Industrial Insect Repellent
The aforementioned transparency doesn’t guarantee you an easy time, however. The Kaiju beasties you face will often outnumber you. Starship Troopers taught us that the only good bug is a dead one, but here you’re often required to pacify your momentary bloodlust for the sake of the mission. Swatting a particularly troublesome insectoid assailant for good is tempting, but you need to weigh that satisfaction up against whole tower blocks of civilians about to be given a completely unwelcome glass of corrosive ichor to wash down whatever the future equivalent of Lucky Charms is. Also, losing buildings reduces a global energy bar that persists between missions. There are ways to restore it, but neglect ensures a swift and demoralizing fail state
And what a loss it is! This is the team behind FTL: Faster than Light, after all. Subset Games might respect your intelligence, but that doesn’t mean they give a hyperspace bypass about those mechs you lovingly named, leveled up, and customized. Upon defeat, you’re informed that “this timeline is doomed”, and allowed to choose one of your pilots to carry over to the next playthrough via a temporal rift. I appreciate the McGuffin, Subset, but couldn’t you have made the rift just a teensy bit bigger?
Into the Breach will be coming to Mac, Linux and PC when Subset Games “feel it’s ready”, which is both comforting and endlessly frustrating. You can oversee construction of those giant mechs here
* Please accept my humble apology, machine gods. Here, have a kidney. Ok, have both kindneys. Please, not the lungs. I need those to breathe.