darthorange's Into the Breach (Nintendo Switch) review

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Robots vs Aliens

Despite various repeated attempts, I have never been able to get into rougelike games. Things like Spelunky, Binding of Issac, and Enter the Gungeon are really great when you are having a good run and have a lot of cool stuff, but the fact that you can lose everything in an instant and have to start all over again from scratch just to get the chance to make that awesome super badass character again is incredibly deflating to me. Into the Breach managed to grab me in a way other rougelikes haven't by having a constant progression system and allowing for a lot more player choice out the gate.

You can change the color and the names of your mechs for added personalization.
You can change the color and the names of your mechs for added personalization.
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Into the Breach is a turn based strategy game that has the player controlling three mechs while trying to survive survive against alien invaders known as the "Vek." While you start the game with only one squad, you quickly earn in game currency that allows you to purchase additional squads. You can play with these premade squads or mix and match mechs to you hearts content. And this is where Into the Breach differs from so many other rougelikes. You don't have to wait or get lucky in order to do cool stuff or use certain attacks. Once you unlock a mech, it is yours to start with whenever you want. Want to use a laser shooting mech? Or how about one with an electric whip? Once you purchase the squad, those mechs are yours to start a run with whenever you want. There are still additional weapons and upgrades that can be found throughout your run, but you never feel lacking without them. You are a badass fighting robot from the very start of each run, and even if you die, you will still have that badass robot to use next time.

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To add further customization and really make your squad your own, you are also able to select one mech pilot with a special ability at the start of every run. When you die or when you successfully complete the game, you are able to keep one pilot for your next run, keeping their level and the perks associated. All this helps minimize the sense of despair and frustration that is typically felt when you die in a rougelike. It never feels like you are starting completely from scratch, even if you do loose the mech upgrades you may have attached. A full run from beginning to end will typically take anywhere 45 minutes to as long 2+ hours, and each run is comprised of several skirmishes across multiple islands. You can freely save at any point which is great and means you can slowly chip away at a run if you don't have much free time.

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Matches are played on a grid that clearly communicates how your movements and attacks will affect the enemies and the environment. There are four islands and a "final zone" for you to complete. The islands each have a unique style along with different enemy types and environmental conditions, such as thunderstorms in the desert or blizzards in the snow. Not every mech is a fighter, and certain squads and mechs are entirely built around manipulating the environment to destroy the enemies. These islands can be completed in any order after you have played through them once, and you are free to challenge the final zone after completing only two islands. Regardless of what order you decide to do things, the difficulty and enemies will always scale so that it never feels too hard or too easy.

Into the Breach takes elements from the roguelike genre but also makes some smart deviations to allow for a constant sense of progression and improvement regardless of whether you win or lose. The portable nature of the Switch makes this game a perfect fit for the system to quickly knock out a few stages whenever you have a free minute.

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