Into the Breach

Into the Breach

Into the Breach is nearly the perfect turn-based strategy game. It is exactly what I want from the genre: purely cerebral gameplay with a focus on depth and usability, and most importantly, very few chance elements. In fact, while it’s technically a roguelike, calling it such does it a disservice by associating it with RNG mood swings. It’s true that the structure involves multiple procedurally-generated playthroughs starting from not-quite-scratch, but the mechanics are so impeccably balanced that each playthrough is guaranteed to be fair and engaging. The gameplay is surprisingly generous; unit movement can be undone as long as no attacks have been carried out, and an entire turn can be reverted once per battle. With that safety net established, the game is able to be extremely challenging without also inducing headaches. It’s all but impossible to save every civilian, complete every objective, and keep your squad alive, but with creative tactics, sacrifice can be minimized.

The tools the game gives for enabling these creative tactics are where it graduates from simply being a good strategy game to a transcendent one. Dealing damage is often of secondary importance to shifting opponents around the map, manipulating them into committing friendly fire, and lining up chain reactions. The somewhat basic art style facilitates this by immediately conveying all of the information a player could possibly need about the current battlefield state and the outcomes of possible actions. It’s assisted by a focused and intuitive interface and audio design that’s both informative and appropriate. Lastly, the soundtrack is excellent, and the story is…actually pretty underwhelming, but it’s at least more interesting than it appears, because it uses its time travel premise to justify the game’s roguelike systems.

9/10
9/10

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