Into the Breach

Custom PC - - CONTENTS - DE­VEL­OPER Sub­set Games/ PUB­LISHER Sub­set Games/ WEB­SITE https://sub­setgames.com/itb.html

Into the Breach is a turn-based tac­tics game about pre­dict­ing the fu­ture and fix­ing the past. It puts you at the head of a time-trav­el­ling squad of heav­ily ar­moured mechs try­ing to save Earth from an in­va­sion of gi­gan­tic in­sects.

The game’s bat­tles pitch three of your mechs against a swarm­ing num­ber of in­sec­toid ‘Vek’, on an 8 x 8 grid. Your goal isn’t specif­i­cally to de­stroy your en­emy, al­though that’s the ideal out­come. In­stead, you’re tasked with pro­tect­ing mul­ti­ple build­ings on the map for a cer­tain num­ber of turns. Each de­stroyed build­ing knocks a chunk off the re­gion’s power. If the power grid hits zero, you have to start the whole cam­paign again.

In any other tac­tics game, this restart­ing would mean play­ing for another 20 hours to re­store your progress. How­ever, Into the Breach’s strate­gic min­i­mal­ism aims to get the most out of the fewest com­po­nents. Each ‘bat­tle’ lasts around ten min­utes, and it’s pos­si­ble to con­quer one of the game’s four re­gions within an hour. It also clev­erly bakes fail­ure into the ex­pe­ri­ence. If you’re de­feated, you can se­lect one of your mechs to re­turn to the fu­ture, re­tain­ing all its ex­pe­ri­ence and abil­i­ties, mak­ing your next run slightly eas­ier.

What’s most im­pres­sive about Into the Breach, how­ever, is the tac­ti­cal nu­ance baked into a hand­ful of me­chan­ics. The Veks, for ex­am­ple, are pretty stupid, tele­graph­ing all their move­ments for the next turn. You know where they’re go­ing to shoot, what struc­tures they will at­tack and where their next clutch will spawn, al­low­ing you to cre­ate sur­gi­cally pre­cise re­sponses.

At the same time, how­ever, the Veks al­ways out­num­ber you, so you can’t deal with ev­ery­thing they throw at you on a one-to-one ba­sis. That’s where the game’s other key sys­tem comes in. Your at­tacks don’t just do dam­age, they push and pull op­po­nents around the map. Hence, you can

use tank shells to push en­e­mies away from build­ings they’re about to at­tack, or into the ocean to kill them in­stantly. One par­tic­u­larly sat­is­fy­ing move is push­ing an en­emy onto another spawn­ing en­emy, pre­vent­ing the spawn­ing en­emy from sur­fac­ing onto the map, and dam­ag­ing the Vek stood on top of it. Of course, this sys­tem can work against you too, as you might ac­ci­den­tally push an in­sect into a build­ing, de­stroy­ing it in the process.

This crowd-con­trol me­chanic is where Into the Breach’s true tac­ti­cal sat­is­fac­tion lies. Ev­ery move you make has a shock­wave ef­fect that not only af­fects the board state, but echoes for­ward through time. Grad­u­ally, the game teaches you to think three moves ahead, all to solve a prob­lem in the past. The fact that Into the Breach can ex­plore such a mind­bend­ing idea in just 230MB of space is mind-blow­ing.

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