PAX WEST 2018 Review: Into The Breach Review (Nintendo Switch)

 

Into The BreachThe Earth has been destroyed. Humanity has been ravaged. There is no hope of saving what is left. The Vek, a vicious extraterrestrial race of creatures, have burrowed into the ground and laid waste to absolutely everything. For one military scientist, and his team of androids, any sliver of hope that can be obtained is through the Breach system, a time-travel weapon that allows the team to slide between the fabric of space and time to continue the fight. It is a bitter battle of wits and strategy, and every choice will mean the difference between victory and the end of human civilization.

From Subset Games, the makers of the critically acclaimed spaceship strategy game, FTL, comes Into The Breach. Having made its way to the Nintendo Switch, Into The Breach looks to spearhead the presence of tactical turn-based games on the Switch. After quite some time with it, Into The Breach greatly succeeds as a fantastic strategy game, and a signal boost for developers to bring more tactical games to the switch.

Into The Breach is a procedurally–generated rogue-like tactical turn-based strategy game. In the game, players control their small team of mechs against the vicious alien race, known as the Vek. In the style of Pacific Rim, The Vek use the Earth to burrow underneath cities and destroy entire settlements in a matter of minutes. It’s a desperate time for humanity as The Vek slowly take control. Their efforts have also included radically altering the Earth, including plate tectonics and weather systems. Using your mech and your assistant pilots, players will take the fight to The Vek through a lengthy campaign involving six islands and a plethora of randomized missions.

Initially, players will have access to a close-range combat mech, and two spider-tanks.. One tank can fire normal artillery while the other is more of a mortar, striking at targets from afar. In each mission, players will go through several waves of enemies. The goal of each mission is to defend the city, defend the power grid, and survive the enemy attack. While there are only 5 turns in each level, the enemy is relentless and will attempt to destroy your precious targets in every way possible. Players will need to understand the dynamics of the level, as well as the effects of weapons in order to best maximize their strategy. This includes avoiding floods, earthquakes, and other level-changing activity.  It is here that Into The Breach breaks into an exciting, and delicate balance of victory and defeat.

The tactical combat takes place in an isometric setting nostalgic-inspired pixelated visuals. Players will give commands on a tactical grid structure, reminiscent of classic mech-based tactical games like Front Mission and Advance Wars. From there, players will need to think wisely about the position of their forces and how they release their firepower.

As the enemy is insect based, they can fly, use claws, hurl projectiles, and even entrap your forces in a spider-like webbing. While the enemy would love to turn you and your team into dust, their primary target is the power grid. Each building represents a power grid. If that building is destroyed, one bar off your power grid is lost. If you lose all your bars to the grid, the Earth is lost and your team will have to start again. Into The Breach plays into the plan of live, die, repeat. That may sound defeating on the surface, but Into The Breach has a strong sense of reward and progress. 

With each Game Over, players can bring a pilot into the new playthrough. That pilot, having already lived through a bitter combat experience, will gain more experience and enhanced combat abilities. Additionally, new mech units can be unlocked to allow for different tactical options when locked in combat, and new upgrades can be added during playthroughs. Furthermore, islands that players unlock will be available for playing in the next playthrough. Each victory and defeat matter in Into The Breach. Ultimate victory won’t be easy, but  Into The Breach encourages players to keep trying.

When everything comes together, the controls, the old-fashioned visuals, and the musical score from composer Ben Prunty, Into The Breach becomes an absolutely fantastic tactical combat game, especially with the mobility of the Nintendo Switch. Being able to wage an interstellar war, whether on a big screen or away from, is absolutely sensational! During my time reviewing Into The Breach, I waged war on my plane ride to PAX WEST and at a Starbucks coffee shop in Seattle. I could help but fist pump every time I won a battle, and even feel a sense of accomplishment when I had a long run in the game.

Into The Breach is one of the finest tactical games of 2018, and an extremely strong addition for any owner of a Nintendo Switch or a PC. It’s tactical gameplay, while challenging, will constantly keep players coming back for more. By combining a solid visual and audio experience,  with that gameplay experience, you have one of the best tactical gaming experiences in gaming today. I can’t recommend Into The Breach enough.

The world is in ruins. Strap into the cockpit and make the enemy pay!