Turn-based at its finest
When Into the Breach came out earlier this year on PC, I couldn’t bring myself to purchase it, despite the love I have for Faster than Light. When I sit down at my desk I need to be ensconced in enough action to distract me from the tremendous pain of my horribly hunched posture and lacklustre seat cushioning. I mean, do butts wear down all chair padding overtime or is that just a unique characteristic of my particular ass? Never mind, that’s besides the point – the POINT is, when Into the Breach got shadow dropped onto Switch last week, I literally jumped in excitement while preparing to leave my partner’s house early in the morning.
Now maybe I’m just not cued in with the correct circles these days, but it doesn’t seem like anyone is talking about Into the Breach – I’m here to tell you why you should care.
Thinking back on the reveal, I can understand that for those of you who hadn’t heard of the game earlier in the year, that the ‘last’ announcement of the Nindies showcase would have been fairly underwhelming. I get it, a grid design turn-base strategy game with pixel graphics is likely to immediately put A LOT of people off, but damnit stop talking give me a chance to change your mind! Now, look… Into the Breach is not going to be for everyone, so first off, if you hands down hate turn-based games, you should probably quit out of this article. However, if by chance you have ever enjoyed a turn-based game before (including Chess) here’s why you should check out Into the Breach:
At the centre of my addiction to Into the Breach is its incredibly flexible nature. The game boots extremely quickly on the Switch, saves at every single turn, and has no loading screen between each mission. Fundamentally, these really basic, but absolutely necessary features make Into the Breach the perfect game for you to pick up and put down whenever you feel like it. At one point, I even turned on the game for 10 minutes, thought deeply about a move, and then turned it off while I went to make a sandwich, only to commit when I returned and contemplated it for the duration of my meal. This design also renders it absolutely perfect to chip away at while sitting on the couch watching home renovation shows (Love it or List it – always list it; I don’t know why they’re so attached to their houses.)
Of course, not every move takes this long to figure out, though, it’s a credit to the game that it can actually keep me focused enough to spend that much time sorting through scenarios in my head. This characteristic of Into the Breach boils down to the extremely simple, but infinitely complex combination of move-sets. Without explaining the entire game, for each mission you drop three units down to protect buildings and objectives from invading alien bugs. Every unit is a different mech, each with their own weapons and abilities that have certain weaknesses and strengths. Some mechs have elemental abilities, some use grapple hooks or have weapons that toss the aliens overhead, but all of them combine to augment your play style depending on which squad you pick.
What makes Into the Breach’s decisions so important is due the ‘positional’ nature of the game, as enemies and character mechs can be pushed or pulled along tiles. Considering the game likes to inundate the player with a lot of bugs, sometimes the best you can do is just move them onto tiles where they won’t do any damage. You can even try to bide yourself more time by standing on top of cracked spaces where new aliens will emerge the following turn, blocking them from entering the battle. Your mech pilots also level up and gain new abilities, however, if they die you’ll lose them… BUT after every failed campaign you can send ONE pilot back in time to the beginning for a fresh start.
I’ve heard some people lament that there aren’t touch controls for the game, but after having tried to play Darkest Dungeon purely with touch controls, I’ve come to terms with the sad fact that the Switch screen is just a little too small for that method. That being said, the game-pad controls are very intuitive and easy to learn.
Into the Breach is unlike any other turn-based strategy game I’ve played; it’s addicting, frustrating, flexible, and it can be a short campaign, or a tremendously long and draining one. Be warned though, Into the Breach is EXTREMELY hard even on Normal difficulty. I advise starting on Easy (which is still a challenge,) and working your way up.