Review: Into The Breach

For those of you looking to have your turn based strategy itch scratched, then look no further than Into The Breach. This is a indie title from Subset Games, who are also the makers of FTL, and if you know what kind of quality game FTL is, then you know what to expect from Into The Breach. This game is available on Nintendo Switch and PC, but for review purposes we’re going to be specifically looking at the Nintendo Switch version of the game. Let’s dive in and see exactly what Into The Breach has to offer.

30 Second Review

+ Turn Based Strategy Excellence

+ Procedurally Generated Maps so no two playthroughs are the same

+ A Variety of Pilots and Mechs

– Not as much Rogue Lite elements as I would have liked

– Mech upgrades do not persist

Gotta Get Back in Time

Into The Breach is an indie turn-based strategy game. You are given three mechs at the start of the game. One mech is melee focused, one mech is kind of like a tank, and one mech is artillery. The enemies that you’ll be fighting are the Vex, an alien race of bugs. They’ve come to earth to wipe us out and make this their new home, so Starship Troopers meets mechs anyone? Anyway, you’ll start by placing your 3 mechs on the map. Your job is to protect the civilians who are working in the power grids, which look like office buildings. Each map also has bonus objectives that you can try to complete for bonus rewards. Let me give some examples of the bonus objectives: kill 7 vex, take less than 4 mech damage in a battle, and protect the train as it crosses the map.

The vex will enter the map randomly from the ground, and then just like that you go to war! Wipe out all the enemy forces or survive until x amount of turns have passed. Now before we get into this part, let me state that this game features time traveling mechanics throughout the game. Each turn each mech can move and fire, but if you fire before moving you cannot move. It’s better to move all three mechs first before firing, because if you move a mech and you don’t like it’s position you can use the ZL button to undo that move. Also, once per battle if you complete all your moves, and you don’t like how it played out, you can reset your turn back to the beginning of that turn.

If you win your mission, you can continue playing on the island that you are on. There are 4 islands to unlock. If you lose your mission, you can pick one pilot to join you on the next timeline. If all three pilots die, your game ends, and there is no one to travel back to the future with. So the mechs are all from the future fighting for earth’s past from the alien invasion. There really is a lot to Into The Breach. If you get to the end of the island, you’re given upgrades to choose from. Think of it as like a store, and based on your performance for completing missions with their bonus objectives, you can now purchase upgrades with those rewards. These upgrades persist with you for this game; they are not permanent. Instead of buying upgrades, if you’re low on power you can also use this time to restore power. If you’re power is full, you can permanently increase your power defenses, and this will help make buildings resistant to enemy attacks. As you can tell, there is a lot of strategy and depth to Into The Breach. How well you do is not just about the turn based combat; it can be about the choices you make outside of combat as well.

Pilots Please

Periodically while playing on a map, a pod from the future will fall out of the sky. You must either collect or protect this pod to get it’s bonuses. The bonuses range from mech upgrades to new pilots. This is the only way I’ve found so far to get new pilots. I suspect that maybe a pilot might be able to be purchased from the end of island screen, but I’ve not seen that option, so I don’t know. It seems likely.

If one of your mechs die but you survive the mission, you have not lost that mech forever, only the pilot dies. The mech can be piloted by ai the next turn. No it’s not really ai, you control it, it’s just an ai driving the mech now instead of a pilot. As long as one pilot lives, the game can continue, but if you lose all 3 pilots it’s game over.

Pilots earn xp in Into The Breach, however, for the most part it only matters for this one playthrough. Now if you lose the mission but at least 1 pilot survives, then you can take that pilot back with you into the future. If multiple pilots survive then you can choose one and continue from there. Xp does persist for as long as your chosen pilot survives. Eventually they will die, and if you’ve had them for six runs and they die, all that xp is gone, and it hurts. I felt the pain to the morrow of my soul.

Into The Breach has in game achievements, and these achievements are important, because this is how you unlock other mech teams. The more achievements you chase after, the more mechs you unlock, which I think is a pretty cool feature.

Into The Breach plays well in docked and handheld mode. I got between 3.5 and 4 hours of battery life on my switch at the highest settings for handheld mode. You can also play a mission or two and use a continue feature if you want to start and stop playing the game on the go. It also works great with the pro controller, so you don’t have to use those pesky joycons if you don’t want too.

Rogue Lite How I Miss You

Into The Breach does not feel like a Rogue Lite game to me. Yes, it has procedural generation. Yes, you can carry one time traveler over from one game to the next if they survive. No, your upgrades are not persistent, they are only for the game you are currently playing. No, your pilot xp is not permanent. So I guess yes it has permadeath. I’m just use to being able to do upgrades and gather rewards permanently outside of each play through, and that’s all Into The Breach is missing in my opinion. However, this wasn’t the developers vision, and I respect that, I just really wish something like this had been included.

Into The Breach is hard, but it’s not unfairly hard. You have to treat each level like a puzzle and find the solution with what you are working with. I found myself using the artillery to push enemies rather than damaging them if I couldn’t kill them outright. Sometimes to save the day you have to lose, so don’t be afraid to use your mechs to take hits to save your power grid. If your mech is damaged, instead of attacking you can use the turn healing that mech with the x button. The enemy vex also burrow from beneath the ground, so either have a mech stand on the burrow to block the new vex from arriving on the board, or better yet, push a vex to block the burrow. The unit standing on the burrow to block will take 1 damage for doing so, so better make it vex.

Some missions will have events, like air strikes, tidal waves, lighting, and so forth. These events will appear as yellow blocks on the map before the turn ends. Do not stand in the yellow areas at all. It’s a one shot one kill effect. Try to get the vex into them, but if you leave yourself standing in them, well, you can kiss that mech goodbye.

Where Can I Buy?

Into The Breach is available on Nintendo eShop, Steam, Humble, and GOG, and PC Game Pass. It is $14.99, and the game is so good and so replayable, I don’t think you need to wait for a sale. It’s a great little indie gem that I think all should experience. It’s rated E for everyone 10+, but this might be a little much for a 10 year old to grasp at first. There is a lot of strategy involved, and I think 12 would be a good starting age for this title.