Time is the only currency we have. How we spend our minutes, hours, days and years is what defines the roughly 40 million minutes the average person gets to spend on this planet. Time is a finite, precious resource. Spending it playing video games is a good choice, but not all games respect your time. Strategy games in particular seem to think you’ve got hundreds of hours just sitting around to waste on bloated mechanics like resource management or troop movement. Can’t these games be fast AND fun? One of 2018’s absolute best indie games manages to do just that.
We’re talking about Into the Breach by Subset Games. The most streamlined strategy game ever made, Into the Breach manages to pack tense, tactile strategy mechanics into memorable battles every bit as thrilling and rewarding as those dozen-hour epics elsewhere in the genre. It’s got a killer soundtrack, too.
The premise of Into the Breach is pitch-perfect sci-fi: You command a squad of time-hopping mecha pilots jumping between dimensions to stop an invasion of giant alien bugs.
If you fail, one version of Earth is destroyed and you move on to the next one and the next one and the next one. This creates a narrative loop where the work isn’t really ever “done,” giving you the excuse to replay it over and over — and replay you will.
Into the Breach is brilliantly designed and incredibly addictive. Every battle lasts five turns, and you’re able to see your enemies' moves before they happen. Sound reductive and easy? It isn’t. Within that five turns, you must prevent enemies from destroying vital infrastructure (represented by a de facto life bar at the top of the screen) and complete a few key objectives to earn buffs and bonuses.
There are 27 mechs grouped into nine, three-member squads. The relationship between mechs is another standout design decision. While there are technically classes of mech across each group, all the abilities are slightly different and complement each another in unique ways. Some squads focus on tossing enemies around the battlefield so that their attacks hit each other. Others involve fire or freezing or electricity. A modest shop mechanic at the end of each level lets you customize your squad with new weapons and abilities, too.
There are even different pilots to choose from, each one with different perks you unlock as they gain XP. You can choose one pilot to carry over between timelines too, giving things a light roguelike feel.
At every level, Into the Breach offers a surprising amount of depth without being overwhelming. It is peak “one more turn” gaming. You can play a few 10-minute battles and walk away if you’re busy, but more likely you’ll find yourself casually noticing it’s suddenly 3 a.m. Whoops.
Into the Breach offers a flawless strategy experience that rewards you for playing for 10 minutes or 10 hours. If you’re even remotely interested in the genre, you will come back to it again and again. It doesn’t even matter if you’ve already played it or not, this is a game that’s always worth playing ASAP.
Into the Breach is available on Xbox, PlayStation, PC, Switch, and mobile.