FTL was my first taste of playing a rougelite game. It was such a simple looking game, yet the mechanics and gameplay were something new to some who never played rougelite games before. The idea that you could progress and be rewarded while also losing over and over again and trying new strategies to see how far you get next time. In their most recent game, Into the Breach, Subset Games found a way to take those elements and expand upon it, requiring more precise strategy and creating greater challenges.
Into the Breach isn’t deep story wise and it doesn’t need to be. You are a part of an elite group o mech warriors called the Rift Walkers. Your three-party crew travel through time (mainly back, because you failed to save the timeline) to fight the Vek. This race of massive bug-like monsters wants to destroy all of humanity by smashing their buildings and power supplies. There isn’t any known motivations for why the Vek do what they do, but isn’t important and only serves to set up the games mechanics. It’s still a fun story/premise to play in even though it isn’t the focus of the game.
Into the Breach uses pixel art, but it looks significantly different from FTL. FTL used some fairly smoothed out pixel avatars and simple background art. Surprisingly the darker, muddier colors make the game very appealing. There are some brighter color palettes on the other islands. Some are desert and ice so there are some brighter colors thrown into the mix.
Into the Breach doesn’t do anything surprising with its artwork, but it’s still appealing and interesting enough to keep you immersed in the game.
Combat plays out in a highly strategic manner. Your attacks can cause damage as well as movement. Sometimes they do one or the other, but some attacks can accomplish both. The ability to move your enemies and your own units around forces you decide very carefully how you attack. Sometimes an attack or movement could cause an enemy to hit a building or a friendly mech. Often it means having to make those sacrifices and taking friendly-fire.
In a somewhat FTL-like style you fight your way across four islands and a final battle area. Into the Breach has a steep learning curve and you can easily fail a timeline and need to start over. As you accomplish the game’s achievements you gain coins. You can purchase new squads with those coins. These new mech squads offer different playstyles to fight and move enemies adding even more variety to combat. There also fallen time travel pods in which you can other time travelers to operate your mechs, which also provide their own benefits to your squad. They can range from stat bonuses, addtional moves and even making particular mech attack stronger.
Subset Games has shown its ability to create good, challenging games, but with Into the Breach Subset has taken everything they’ve learned from FTL and has made a very tight and engaging game. The combat is succinct and makes you think out every last move carefully. Not to mention the darker hued color palette pixel art is wonderful. If you get the chance and you love rougelites then you need to check out this game.