Lewie skews Chaotic Good where possible, and loves pressing buttons, viewing pixels and listening to sounds. He's written for publications like Rock Paper Shotgun, Eurogamer, VG247 and Kotaku UK, and spent 13 years running Savy Gamer. If you ever get the chance you should ask him to tell you the story about that time he had a fight with a snake on an island off the coast of Cambodia.
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Just a solitary game featured in this week’s Friday Freebie, but it’s a game that everyone should give a look. It’s a simple 2D game, that you can play on even the most basic computer systems, but it’s a complex and deep game that you might just end up sinking hours and hours into.
Here are the details:
Here we go then, this is one of my favorite strategy games of the last few years, available for completely free. Into The Breach is a somewhat roguelike-inspired turn-based strategy game, where you take on the role of a squad of mechs sent back in time to divert an apocalyptic alien invasion, which without your intervention will wipe out all life on earth.
You can really tell that this was made by the same team behind the similarly fantastic FTL, where it has completely different systems and mechanics but tests some of the same parts of your brain. Here you have to try to think several moves ahead, as you move your units around a grid, trying to position your units to avoid taking damage, to protect innocent civilians, and place yourself to do maximum damage to enemy units. This is a largely deterministic game, with only a few minor random elements, and once you learn how to read the enemies’ attack patterns, you can feasibly complete any one mission without taking any damage. The game even shows you what enemy units’ next planned move is, and it’s up to you to figure out how to best respond. It’s got elements of something like chess but played over an ever-evolving board, and with a wide variety of different pieces being added to the board over time.
In FTL you have different ships to choose from at the start of the game, and in Into The Breach, you have different classes of mechs to pilot, gradually unlocked as you progress through the game. In some cases, these different styles of mech radically alter the strategies you have to use, requiring strategies built around pushing enemies into different positions so their attacks hurt each other, or using electric attacks that can impact multiple enemies in a chain, you get a wide variety of tools to use and master.
It’s an interesting game from a narrative perspective, too, where it’s built into the story that each time you fail and restart, it’s your pilots abandoning a failed timeline and starting again from scratch. The wider story is built up gradually over short bursts of dialogue between characters, and you have to piece together the full story over multiple playthroughs. You can really feel that these characters have been pushed to extreme desperation, willing to experiment with highly volatile time travel science as a last resort in the face of armageddon.
Even if you don’t think this is your kind of thing, for absolutely free you’re not losing anything by giving it a try.