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Into The Breach

Into The Breach

The creators of FTL are heading once more into the breach.

  • Text: A. R. Teschner

The new strategy title from Subset Games, Into The Breach, does contain some of the genes of its predecessor, Kickstarter darling FTL: Faster Than Light. It's difficult not to compare the two when trying to break down what makes the newer game tick, but whether or not you enjoyed or even played FTL, Into The Breach deserves its own time in the spotlight.

Players are charged with the defence of a world being overrun by swarms of giant insects that are bent on eradicating humanity. The human-inhabited areas are divided into four islands, each with its own special traits, from an icy island infested with rogue AI mechs to an archival island with ancient war machines. Each island is then divided into several scenarios that you can move into once adjacent, awarding some combination of grid power, reputation (used for purchasing gear, cores, and power should you escape an island alive), and energy cores.

You take control of a three-mech squad with different abilities, many of which are powered by energy cores. The starter squad has a mech that pushes and punches, another that slams targets with a cannon blast, and another that fires an artillery shell that damages the impact zone, scattering adjacent enemies. Plenty more can be unlocked, each with a set of complementary abilities within the squad. Energy cores expand these basic abilities, as well as adding health and movement. Each mech has its own pilot who can level twice to gain abilities that enhance their mech's performance and, if they're one of a few special heroes, add an extra, unique ability. Meeting global or squad achievements rewards you with coins, which can then be spent unlocking new mech squads, each of which will, in turn, have their own achievement set. Most abilities have something to do with moving targets on the battlefield, and it's this tendency to reposition that is the core of the game.

Into The Breach

Each battle map is divided into squares, and following in the tradition of many tactical games, units can only move orthogonally. The game is entirely turn-based, with each side moving all of its units. Damage can be taken by taking direct hits from weapons, but also from being slammed into things, from burrowing insects that emerge from the ground to fires that appear when forests are damaged, as well as from environmental hazards such as lightning, earthquakes, and floods. Each insect type attacks in a different way, from the ensnaring, glass cannon mantis, to the long-range acid-splashing centipede, to the docile psion pod that can give every enemy on the board powers such as armour or regeneration until it's destroyed. Amid all of these interacting pieces you have your primary goal no matter the scenario: defend the civilians huddled in their towers. Loss of civilian life tanks your score, but it also reduces grid power, the only thing keeping the rest of the insects away. When your grid power is zero, the game is over, so it acts as a hit point track. Each of these buildings has a chance to survive any attack based on your current grid defence rating, but for the most part, players will have to push, crush, and redirect the horde of insects to keep as many people safe as possible.

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