Into The Breach is a really neat turn-based strategy game where you control a few mechs in order to defeat an alien force across multiple continents and save people. The core concept of ITB is that you have (almost) all the information necessary to plan your turns and that there is no randomness in how things play out. There’s a ton of stuff to unlock - new teams of mechs, new pilots, achievements and what have you - and you can replay the game almost endlessly with the same basic and effective mechanics set. I really enjoyed ITB!

You start the game with pretty much everything locked; You only have one pilot - pilots help the mechs they control by providing them with bonuses - and one team of robots, the Rift Walkers. Each team is made out of three robots, and the default team has one punchy robot, one that shoots projectiles that knocks back enemies and the last one has arcing projectiles that knock everything around the tile shot. Each squad has three specific achievements to complete - often tied to the abilities of that squad - and medals earned for beating the game with 2, 3 and 4 islands completed. By completing squad and global achievements, you earn coins which are then used to unlock new squads with wildly different powers, rinse, repeat and keep saving timelines with everyone!

On each run, you have between two and four islands to save. These islands have different environments, enemies and bosses. Each map has a bunch of missions that you can choose from, and rewards go from reputation, grid power and cores. Reputation is used at the end of the map to buy upgrades, cores are used to install upgrades on your mechs, and power is effectively your life meter. This is a really interesting mechanic of Into The Breach; Your mechs can be destroyed - and your pilots die - as much as needed, the real important thing to protect during fights are the buildings, otherwise you lose power. If power goes to 0 at any point during the campaign, you lose. I tended to try and collect more power than I needed, because the surplus gives you increased odds that buildings will resist hits. It doesn’t go very high very fast, but it’s still satisfying when you mess up but suffer no consequences.

Fights themselves always play with the same basic mechanics, more or less. You have a few enemies on the map and deploy your mechs. Enemies will them move and get ready to attack, you exactly know what they’re going to do, and what they’ll hit. Some spots of the map will be marked as spots where more enemies will emerge next turn. You then have a whole turn to prevent enemies from damaging buildings - and your mechs if you can. Killing them works, but most mechs have abilities to move them around - for instance, each robot in the starting squad can force enemies in other spaces. It’s easy to prevent melee enemies from attacking stuff, but the complexity of enemies grows as you go through the game and they get ranged attacks, area of effects, charging fire dashes and other buffs here and there. Colliding enemies or robots into anything deals damage to both things, and you can also block enemies from spawning with your mechs - again dealing some damage to them.

Each island has new things thrown at you, conveyor belts, terraformers, acid pits, deserts, forests, there’s a lot that can happen and go wrong. Still, you go through the missions with the same repertoire of moves and skills - you can upgrade plenty of stats for your mechs, get new pilots from time pods and as rewards and find/buy more weapons as skills - but you move, attack, try to get enemies to hit each other or block their own spawning points and resolve every fight like a puzzle. If you made a wrong move, you can undo it and if you messed up during a turn, you can reset it. The reset turn function is useful but a bit frustrating as well. You can only use it once per fight and you can’t reset to the previous turn if your actions had consequences you couldn’t (or didn’t) foresee properly. It’s not too much of a problem once you accept that this is an extreme emergency button and not a quality of life feature.

I really, really liked Into The Breach and if I didn’t have an infinite number of other games to play, I would totally have unlocked everything in it - tried to get all the achievements and get all squads and pilots, but sadly, other games call to me. I recommend it wholeheartedly to everyone who likes a good puzzler or strategy game and wants to be able to take as much time as needed to figure these scenarios out!

AuthorJérémie Tessier