Editors' Note: With the release of Into The Breach on the Nintendo Switch, we thought we would restart it and use the Nintendo hybrid console to see if we could cancel the apocalypse in a new format. We have slightly modified our review in areas to reflect this, but we are sure that the score shown below, originally awarded for the PC launch of the game, reflects the experience of playing it also on the switch. Additional reporting by Jake Tucker.
When people discuss games as a means to tell stories, they are usually talking about sweeping Kojima-style scenes, the concise dialogue of Nathan Drake, or even the moral decisions of Lee and Clem Walking Dead. And understandably, given that it is this way, we have told stories through our entertainment for years: author narrations, written by writers versed in the art of storytelling.
Are those the most interesting stories that games can tell, however? I bet you have incredible stories of your time on the battlefields of PlayerUnknown, Grand Theft Auto or Far Cry, none have anything to do with the "history" of their respective games, but they were created by their systems. Emerging moments where physics, artificial intelligence, mechanics and a little magic combine to create something truly personal and truly impossible in anything else.
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effort, the wonderful Faster Than Light, was built on this presumption. As a combination of turn-based and rogue strategy, FTL was effectively the Star Trek simulator we had always dreamed of. Despite its simplistic appearance, each race captured the kind of drama and unpredictability of a great space opera, all driven by the internal mechanisms of the game.
And now, with his long-awaited follow-up – Into The Breach – Subset does it again. This time, it's a more classic turn-based tactical game, where your team of three mechs is set up in an 8 × 8 grid, and you have to face the incoming Vek threat (bugs, basically) before destroying buildings on each map .
Once again, he is a rogue, with the general objective of recapturing at least two of the four islands (each divided into multiple maps) before facing the final battle and, hopefully, saving humanity.
It's a deceptively pretty game, with very animated pixel-art that reminds of the classics of the SNES era; There are some works of art of excellent character, which adds flavor and personality to the procedures. Special mention, also, to the fantastic score, which elevates the action to something with real gravity and consequence.
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The action is amazingly simple, much more than most examples of the genre. It only has three team members: a Titanfall style mech, a tank and A long-range gun with a mortar spear. They can level up individually throughout each race, and if they die on the battlefield, they are replaced by an equivalent powered by artificial intelligence that can not be updated. In seconds, the basics become obvious: move your mech close to an enemy; hit or shoot; wait your turn; Rinse and repeat.
Only Into The Breach really is not about that at all. Unlike, say, Xcom, where the drama is governed by a series of dice rolls which means that each encounter can never be really predicted, each enemy attack on Into The Breach is announced at the end of its turn.
For example, an error is aligned next to a skyscraper. He can not attack him this turn, but he highlights the square in red, which means that it is the attack he will perform next (remember, the Vek are trying to destroy the city, which effectively acts as his life bar).
You enter your turn knowing this and, most importantly, almost every attack you have in your arsenal will move your enemies around the map. So you hit the error with your mech, and a square slips, which means you lose the building on your next attempt.
With that knowledge, you start to create a kind of battlefield domain. If you can move an error so that your attack fails in a building, can you move it to attack one of your teammates? Can you slide it into a thunderstorm (many maps have unique status effects)? How about crushing him against another enemy so that both lose their health, and also to block a third enemy in spawning in that box?
Turn Into The Breach into something much more like a block puzzle than your typical tactical game. Each turn has the potential for greatness or total disaster. As you get better, and start playing in Normal difficulty mode – It's best to start with ease, as in FTL: every turn becomes crucial.
Into The Breach becomes an overwhelming sequence of seemingly hopeless scenarios that require the smartest decisions possible when conquering. And when you realize that a move with your mortar cannon (which slides all adjacent square foes for a space) will be the difference between crushing defeat and glorious victory, you feel like a genius. Every time.
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As is the case in FTL, although each execution is unique, there are elements that can be carried in between. If you meet certain requirements in a race, you can unlock a new squad that brings different skills to the fore, fundamentally changing your tactics and becoming a completely new experience.
But you can also take a pilot with you every time. This causes you to make some heartbreaking decisions when you say goodbye to Chris or Myra, who resisted the Vek threat for so long, but also connects you with another person who can stay with you for tens or even hundreds of hours. And if they kick the bucket? Devastation
These are the stories that Into the Breach creates. All are driven by the game; the loss of deflation of a favorite pilot. The surprising and inspired decisions that destroy three enemies at once and save the city, apparently delivered directly from the Gods. The agony and the ecstasy, how can one go from the mastermind to the fools in the space of a single turn.
Subset games have managed to dominate the microdrama, and as such, Into The Breach is almost as essential as independent games get.
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