Into the Breach
FTL’s maker returns with minimalistic mech tactics game,
Surely this is where it ends. One bug is attacking the train I’m defending. Another is about to destroy a building. Every time a building falls, I lose a Power Grid point. I’ve only got one left and once it’s gone, the Vek win. If you’ve played FTL, you’ll know the panic of a no-win situation. Into the Breach will bring that feeling back, and it’s wonderful. Developed by the same team, it’s built on the same roguelike progression, interplaying abilities and knuckle-gnawing tension. My Lightning Mech could run up to the bug attacking the train and lightning whip it, but that would destroy the train. This is impossible. Every move I try either fails to deal with both bugs or takes out the train.
Into the Breach is a turn-based tactics game in which your squad of three mechs faces a swarm of grounddwelling bugs, the Vek. Each level is played out across just five turns on an 8x8 grid, and your goal is survive, build up your mechs, and finish the Vek off in a final battle. But its party trick is that you see what the Vek will do on their turn. Into the Breach’s tactics are tight and controlled because you know the exact results of your every move. You know what the Vek will be attacking, for what damage and in what order. That evens the odds, even while you’re almost always outnumbered.
You also have amazing weapons on your side. Thinning the Vek’s numbers is always a good idea, but many weapons can also move them and relocate their attacks. If you’re clever, you can make them hit each other or push them into hazards. You always have many options, but you’re rarely sure you’re choosing the best. Wait. What if my Hook Mech pulls the bug attacking the city with its grapple? Now it’s sitting a tile away from the other bug and… I’m a genius. My Boulder Mech lobs a rock between them, pushing both away so their attacks end up hitting nothing. I’ve saved the day.
While Into the Breach’s tactics are exacting and complex, its strategy gives you choice and variety. Campaign runs are set on four themed islands. Each island features a set of levels to choose from, each with different objectives. You might need to protect a coal plant, to kill seven enemies, or to destroy a dam. If you succeed, they’ll grant certain rewards, either Power Grid points, Reactor Cores (which power up your mechs’ abilities and weapons), or Reputation, which buys weapons and other gear.
You don’t lose the game if you fail objectives—only if you lose all your Power Grid—so you’ll constantly weigh up pros and cons. Should you sacrifice your Combat Mech to defend the coal plant, earning a Reputation point? Or is it better to ensure the mech’s survival? If you don’t get better gear, you might not survive later levels. But when a mech is destroyed its pilot is killed, replaced by an AI which can’t earn XP and therefore won’t earn extra HP, movement, and other abilities. This is a game of hard choices.
If you loved FTL for its thoughtful and clever design, it’s all here
Breach and Clear
After surviving two islands, you can choose to fight the final battle or attempt the other, now more difficult islands to gather more gear. Into the Breach is easier to finish than FTL, but it’s designed as a score-attack game, rating your runs by the number of lives you saved. You’ll also unlock new squads of mechs by completing special achievements. Each squad has a different focus, so the Rusting Hulks deploy attack-cancelling smoke, while the Hazardous Mechs deal big damage but get damaged in return. They’re all a joy to learn, every battle a new test of your skills. The challenge never stops changing.
If you loved FTL for its thoughtful and clever design, it’s all here. But Into the Breach is a much tighter, more focused game. While there are plenty of weapons to master, pilots to unlock, and tactics-changing level gimmicks to face, you’ll have a good idea of its breadth in your first run. For some it might lack expansiveness, but for me, Into the Breach fuels the most consistently rewarding tactics I’ve played in years.