A turn-based strategy title following the success of FTL, Into the Breach takes combat to the next level with punishing gameplay that you’ll love.

When it comes to the creation of unique, difficult and overwhelmingly addictive strategy games, you don’t have to look any further than industry phenomenon Subset Games. With their first hit, FTL: Faster than Light making a splash on release, there was no doubt that their next title would be just as challenging; with its own unique twist on the genre.

What is Into the Breach?

A game set across countless timelines in humanity’s future, Into the Breach, tells the tale of a group of mech piloting time-travellers who seek the save the last remains of humanity from a threat breeding below its very surface. Confused yet? Luckily, the plot takes a backseat to strategy during gameplay, with only the bare minimum of understanding required to enjoy what is, essentially, a solid game of future-chess on an Earth-like battlefield.

The objective of each randomly-generated level – explained away through the mysterious effects of time travel and dimension hopping – is to defeat enough of your enemies, the insectoid and deadly Vek, whilst also defending various human colonies or specific points of interest. All without getting killed, and hopefully fulfilling some of those additional challenge bonuses.

How do you play Into the Breach?

As a turn-based strategy title, a great deal of gameplay is as you might expect for the genre. You and your enemies patiently wait and take turns to move and do damage, both to each other and to surrounding items and colonies that you may otherwise want to protect. So far, so XCOM, right?

But where Into the Breach comes into its own is the complexity of its combat system. Not only are you aiming to damage the enemy, but you’re also trying to push them back from damaging colonies, structures or even to place them in the path of an incoming disaster or event. Simple combat is not the name of the game, and will often lead you to restart your playthrough over and over again rather than succeeding.

A lot of the gameplay and time spent on Into the Breach is the time in which you’re devising a strategy, with each unique mech offering something different; from a punch that will damage an enemy and knock them back, to a cannon that can only shoot in a straight line. This element of gameplay becomes far more complex as you play and unlock new mechs, new weapons, and additional mechanics, but as you evolve, so does your enemy.

Into the Breach expects you to use your environment to the best of your ability, from pushing Vek into the path of incoming bombing strikes to bouncing them off each other from increased damage. How well you play directly reflects on how many people you’re likely to save, and you have little hope of meeting those bonus targets without a good, hard think about each and every turn.

What makes Into the Breach special?

The primary thing that makes Into the Breach such an addictive – and replayable – game is the use of randomly generated levels and completely new scenarios to experience. While in premise, random generation can seem like a tired concept, in the sphere of strategy, it’s still a highly effective tool to shake things up and add that bit of extra interest to gameplay that would otherwise quickly turn stale.

For fans of FTL, it’s also very much a continuation of Subset Games’ beloved pixel art style from their past title, which somehow still feels fresh and new in a world where the indie games market is saturated with similar low-poly titles. For fans of games with style alone, Into the Breach certainly gains a few points in their favour.

But realistically, for those of us who have played, and failed many times at, Into the Breach, one of the main draws of the game is purely its difficulty, with Normal definitely not recommended for the majority of novice players. This lends the game practically infinite replayability, as well as offering a true feeling of victory once you defeat the Vek scourge once and for all – at least in that timeline, anyway.

Should you buy Into the Breach?

If you love a good strategy title, and your capacity for difficult games that you might need to butt your head against a few times is middling to high, then Into the Breach could be a highly rewarding addition to your game collection and the perfect way to spend a few hours with your brain engaged.

However, if you’re a fan of the more laid-back and casual approach to the indie scene, and you’re drawn in by the pixellated charm of Subset Games’ latest title, you might find yourself in for a bit of a shock; with defeat infinitely possible even from the very first level, and difficulty levels only increasing from there.

There’s no doubt Into the Breach has already procured a dedicated fanbase, with several awards already under its belt and a recent conversion to the Switch for console fans, as well as an overwhelmingly positive rating on Steam.

Into the Breach can be purchased through Steam for the excellent price of £11.39, or on the Nintendo Store for the same price.



Author's rating

Overall rating

The good
  • A challenging game with plenty of replayability for those willing to commit to the title
  • Another solid, excellent release from Subset Games
  • An interesting premise made better by its variability in combat
The bad
  • The usual pixel art design you’d expect from just about every Indie title released in 17-18
  • Not particularly accessible to less strategy-minded players
  • A complicated storyline that’s rarely used to its full potential
About author

Harriet Swartout-Phipson

Creative Digital Copywriter by day, Indie game fan by night. Give me a rogue-like, simulator or RPG to play and I'm happy.

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