Into the Breach

FTL’s maker re­turns with min­i­mal­is­tic mech tac­tics game,

PC GAMER (US) - - CONTENTS - By Alex Wilt­shire

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.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.