This is an ongoing list where I attempt to do the following: Play, Complete, and Rank every video game in the known universe in order to finally answer the age old question "What is the greatest game of all time?" For previous entries find the links on the attached spreadsheet.
How did I do?
|Beat the game||Yes|
|All Squads||Yes (even the secret one)|
Where do I even begin with Into the Breach? Before I picked this game up, I saw that GB was pretty infatuated with the game for a little while, but it seemed like only Ben kept up with it after a couple weeks. I was a little hesitant to pick the game up, because quite honestly I always felt that Ben's taste in games was maybe the farthest from my own in terms of the GB crew, so if he liked it, well that might not bode well for me. However after waiting for a physical edition for over a year, and finding out that nothing was ever in the plans, I saw it on sale and took the plunge.
When I jumped in, I realized pretty quickly how wrong I was to have any apprehension to this game at all. It combined nearly all of my favorite mechanics into a single game and into my time schedule. A good run might take you all of 2 hours (if you are doing all islands), and it was perfect for when I just had 15-20 minutes to sit down and play a game. I could fire it up quickly do a map or two, and then save the rest for next time. However, describing the game is probably the toughest part of talking about Into the Breach at all, so let's tackle that first.
Into the Breach is a rouge-lite, turn based, strategy/puzzle game, where you are attempting to save the world from an alien species that has started attacking civilization. You start off picking a team of 3 mechs, each with their own unique powers and piloted by their own pilots. When you start off, you will only have access to the basic team, but by completing certain objectives you will earn coins which you can then use to buy other squads. From there you are tasked with going to 1 of 4 different islands each with their own set of levels and trying to not only survive each mission, but complete bonus objectives and save the populace.
While you may be originally only concerned with the health and well being of your mechs, there is an overarching goal of saving the populace, if too many buildings (containing civilians) are destroyed, a meter ticks down and it is game over, no matter how well your mechs may be doing. It can force you into tricky situations where you may either need to sacrifice a building or a mech in order to keep the game going on, it all depends on how well you have played up to that point.
Each level consists of you landing in a small map, attempting to repel the alien invaders. You may be after bonus objectives like: kill X many, or Protect the bar, and accomplishing these objectives can earn you precious upgrades or overall health on the world power meter, but the level plays out even if you don't accomplish any of the goals. For, if you can survive 3-5 turns in an area (both the mechs and civilization) then you can move on to the next level regardless of the objectives you complete. In order to do that you need to start thinking about the game and its mechanics as a puzzle in order to get you the best move possible.
Each turn the aliens on screen move their allotted spaces and prep an attack on a target, whether it be one of your mechs or a building. You then get your turn to react accordingly to try and mitigate or neutralize any damage done. All of this plays out on a hex grid, where each mech is only allowed so many movement spaces. With every attack laid out in front of you, you have all the time in the world to think about what is going to work best. Perhaps an alien is going to attack a building but a direct hit won't kill him, you could perhaps utilize a different mech that might be able to push it one tile away, which means the alien will miss its next turn. If the aliens are lined up the right way, maybe you can re-arrange them so they attack each other, or bounce off each other for added damage. Is there water, or a hazard nearby you can knock them into? Could you just kill one, or throw yourself in front of a building to save it? There are a lot of possible moves that you can make and in any order, but finding the right moves and order is essential for going far in the game.
After so many levels are completed, you will face a boss and a chance to save that island permanently (and move to the next one). If you beat 2 islands you can immediately take on the final islands and attempt to win the game. It is a push-pull mechanic as for every island you beat, the enemies get tougher, but you have more of a chance to upgrade your mechs, or earn more meter. For every squad, I started off always attempting to do an all island run, this would allow me a chance with a fully upgraded (or close to) character to see what skills are truly worthwhile. That way when I attempted a shorter run, I could make smart decisions about what needs to be upgraded first, and what can probably wait. Almost half of the strategy layer is learning your upgrade route for your mechs. If you have one point to spare, does it go towards the ability to shield up, or does it go for more damage? Since you don't always know when your next upgrade is going to come, you don't want to waste your upgrades on something that isn't vital to your success. For instance your starting mechs, one of them has an ability to shoot a rocket that pushes aliens away one space, one of the first upgrades to get is one that allows you to target a building so that you can push aliens that are right up against the building without damaging the people inside.
At first I found the game incredibly tough, and could barely make any progress outside of clearing the first or 2nd island, but if you play the game enough and engage with it on its level you start to realize all the early mistakes you were making that was preventing you from getting farther. If you try to approach this game like an X-Com or other turn based game where you think you are just going to kill everything in sight, you will not go far. In fact, there are levels and sometimes whole campaigns where I would only kill 10-20% of the aliens because it was smarter for me just to mitigate their damage instead of trying to do damage myself. And just when you get comfortable playing with one squad, you can unlock another one that completely switches up strategies, upgrade paths, and anything else you may have honed in on. Each squad is fairly unique in terms of what it can do, and you will have ones you love and connect with right away, and you will play as ones you absolutely hate, but as long as you are open to developing new strategies this game really has it in spades.
Now, I mentioned it was a rogue-lite without mentioning what parts are rogue-esque. Whether through success or failure, you are able to send back to the start of the game a living pilot that can be the leader of the new party you send out. This pilot will have all the experience and skills that they had in the previous run, so if they were fully leveled up, then whatever Mech you put them in will have a good boost at the start of the game. Those skills could be an upgrade point they can immediately put in their new mech which can go towards, more damage, more movement speed, or new abilities. Or the pilot might just have a bonus to their health which allows them to stay alive longer. You also get to keep any coins you earn regardless of living or dying, but they can really only be used to unlock new squads and won't necessarily help you on your current run.
After beating the game a handful of times with 3 squads, I put it down and thought I would save it for my (now defunct) Youtube channel so that I could play the game with my buddy without having 100% everything. However, as the days went on I felt the pull to go back to the game and see if I could beat it with one more squad eventually overtook my desire to "save" any aspect of the game for future plays. It was the game I was always playing, even when I had time for longer sit down sessions, I still would fire up Into the Breach, and knock out 2-3 full runs before putting it down. If anything I am upset that I 100% the game, and now there is really nothing left to go back for. Sure I could just play it for fun, but without working towards anything, it makes it a much harder sell, when I see a whole bunch of games on my shelves who still have yet to be played for the first time.
I really don't even have a lot of negatives to say about the game. The music fits well and is pretty good, the art style might rub some people the wrong way, but I kind of dug it. Playing a majority of the game on normal felt like the right difficulty, it might take you a little while to get in the groove, but I never felt the game was cheap. It telegraphs its moves and you have time to react. There are some instances where it can feel like on turn 1 there are aliens you can't reach who are going to destroy a building or an objective right away, but those turns seemed few and far between. My biggest complaints are that the game really doesn't have a story or a good ending, but seeing as it is meant to be replayed ad nauseum and each run only lasts for 2ish hours, it doesn't detract much from the game. The other complaint can be in how you earn coins, for some mechs it is as simple as playing the game normally and you will come across them without thinking about it, and for other squads you literally have to make getting one of the coins your sole purpose on a run, because it doesn't come up naturally. This can especially be rough, if you are still relatively new and maybe bought a squad you don't like right out of the gate and now can't afford to try another one. Its also not a game that shows very well. Putting this on the big screen or something looking over your shoulder will not sell how much fun it is.
This game will put some people off, it is not an everyone pleaser like Mario or Road Rash 64, but if you like turn based games, rogue-lite games, strategy games, or even puzzle games, I think you will find something to really enjoy with Into the Breach. It was definitely my surprise game of the year when I completed it in 2020. It's also the perfect switch game, just saying.
Is this the greatest game of all time?: No, but its close
Where does it rank: I absolutely adored Into the Breach, I recommend it to nearly everyone, and was one of the first games I told my brother to get when he got a switch this past month. It's not the "Greatest" game, but a damn fine one. I have it at the new #5. It is right above Katamari Damacy and right below X-Com 2.
Up Next: Griftlands (Switch)
Anyone looking for it: here is the link to the list and more if you are interested in following along with me (this is not a self promotion). Here. I added links on the spreadsheet for quick navigation. Now if you missed a blog of a game you want to read about, you can get to it quickly, rather than having to scroll through my previous blogs wondering when it came up.
Thanks for Listening.