"Destined to fail."
That’s one way of describing Into the Breach.
Just to clarify; it’s not the game that’s destined to fail.
It is you that is destined to fail. A lot.
Into the Breach is the follow up to Subset Games’ first hit, FTL: Faster Than Light - a rogue-like spaceship management simulator that saw your ship and crew flee across 8 sectors in an attempt to escape the pursuing enemy fleet.
FTL was noted by reviewers as being very good, but quite difficult*, as more often than not your mission ended in failure (personal anecdote; in 40+ hours of FTL, I’ve completed a run just a handful of times). That didn’t mean it wasn’t a fun game as the challenge can be addicting.
I think the same judgement can be said here; Into the Breach hits the same addictive notes as FTL, just presented in a turn-based strategy game with mechs. That also means I am saying failure is what you will experience more often than not (and it’s not even close).
If that didn’t scare you off, Into the Breach plays as a turn-based strategy game played on a 8x8 grid, with a few touches of rogue-like for levels and RNG for your potential mech upgrades. You control a team of 3 mechs trying to prevent waves of aliens from damaging local cities or other key points on the map. If any of those civilian occupied spaces are damaged, your overall “health” takes a hit, so you have to do whatever you can to prevent damage, or at worst, minimize it, even if that means sacrificing your mechs and their pilots.
Each turn starts off with the aliens telegraphing their next targets before handing the reins over to you, so if you can defeat the enemy, or even shift them to redirect their next attack in some harmless direction, you’re in the clear.
What makes things difficult is that at the outset of each turn, a new wave of aliens spawn. If you spent the last round minimizing damage instead of being on the offensive, you may end up with twice as many bogeys to account for; twice as many opportunities for the enemy to strike, but you are still limited to your 3 mechs.
There always seems to be an answer to the riddle, it just depends on if you see it or not. The game’s beauty lies in the ability to choreograph your team to maximize damage and manipulate objects on the map. When you get it, it’s so sweet.
Fire artillery indirectly to shift an enemy, then follow up with your tank to push the alien into a water hazard.
Melee punch an alien with your mech, shifting them over a square rendering their next attack toothless.
A multitude of factors will allow you to damage, delay, nullify, or destroy your enemies. All those options still won’t always provide you with the right answer, and you will most likely lose.
It’s a difficult game, but when you get it right, not many games provide the same level of satisfaction on a per-turn basis.
For me, a must play. From the concept, to the challenge, to the superbly polished presentation, this game hits all the marks that I could want it to.
*both FTL and Into the Breach have Easy difficulty levels that do make the games more manageable, but still not foolproof. Probably a good place for everyone to start, but I am speaking of Normal difficulty level when I talk about how hard these games are.