Available On: PC
Developer: Drama Drifters
Publisher: Nkidu Games Inc.
Genre: Indie Adventure Survival
Official Site: https://breached-game.com/
Release Date: 23 June 2016
Where To Buy: Steam
In Breached, players take on the role of one Corus Valott, a character awakening from a long sleep in cryogenic stasis. His shelter is damaged, supplies are running low and a series of magnetic anomalies have taken to attacking his one means of survival; the various drones that act as his eyes, ears and hands in the ravaged world around him.
Sold as a something of a survival game, players are tasked with collecting minerals to create fuel, as well as parts to repair the Corus’ broken shelter. However, along the way, you slowly discover what exactly happened to create the wasteland that surrounds you – as well as what Valott’s role was before his memories became so fractured.
Breached is not a bad game, by any means. For such a cheap indie title from a relatively small team, it has some greats moments in it. The landscapes are gorgeous, the maps are huge and complex, and while the story is nothing to write home about, it is certainly gripping enough to keep you wanting to get through to the next day – as well as discover the ultimate conclusion of your particular playthrough.
The journal entries that your character types out at the start of each day slowly reveal Corus’ state of mind and past, and clicking various highlighted words compels him to expand on the chosen subject. Meanwhile, each journal entry is tagged, and exploring those tags uncovers previous, lost journal entries. Considering Corus’ long periods of wakefulness and sleep, as well as apparent memory loss and cognitive issues, these are equal parts nonsensical and compelling. That combination isn’t something that is particularly easy to do, and the developers here have made a solid effort to make this a story-driven game. To that end, they somewhat succeed.
However, where Breached falls apart is in the execution of the clearly interesting ideas that the studio had. The idea of an unreliable narrator in a game is something that tickles me, and while it has been done before to various degrees of success, I feel like Breached really tried to take the idea home. But, unfortunately, an interesting idea does not make a game good – and Breached fails on a number of points related to the actual medium of a video game.
For example, it is marketed as a survival game, and that to an extent is true. You have to gather resources, parts and even do a spot of crafting, but it is so short and shallow that it feels like it was just tacked on as an afterthought. The survival aspects are just something for the player to do between the journal entries at the start of each day. The “crafting” itself is lackluster, amounting to experimenting with various different proportions of minerals until you are successfully able to synthesize fuel.
It’s a similar story with the actual gathering of these resources. Because Corus is locked into his shelter (essentially), he instead uses a series of drones to collect, harvest and explore the world. All well and good, but again it feels like the gamey aspects were added just because they needed some game elements. Perhaps they didn’t want to fall into the trap of the walking simulator, which is a shame – because there are some amazing games purely based on exploration out there, and I feel like Breached does this particular aspect very well. But rather than capitalize on the large, beautiful environments packed with interesting features, they instead guide players towards random mineral deposits and caches of electronics. It seems like a waste.
But it isn’t just the survival aspects that the game somewhat trips over; there are some basic elements that are simply unpleasant to use. While in the shelter, the way you interact with the journal and all the various other features inside is great – the UI is understandable, it flows well and it all interacts in an authentic, believable way. It really does feel like you are in a shelter that is about to break down, and you are trying desperately hard to fix it.
However, as soon as you head out into the world via a drone, it all falls apart. Your perspective is very low to the ground, which makes sense, but also makes it very difficult to actually see the wonderful environment that has been created for you. Meanwhile, the controls are simple and easy to learn, but they are also clunky and unresponsive. Even turning up the mouse sensitivity barely helped, and it felt more like I was in control of a floating cargo vessel rather than a nimble drone. Perhaps this was done for reasons of balance (avoiding the fast-moving anomalies would perhaps be too easy if you were just as agile as they were), but it still makes the movement a constant irritation. In an exploration game, that is bad news.
One last whinge: The game seems like it is supposed to be played multiple times over, but there doesn’t feel like there is a good enough reason to do so. As you play, you’ll unlock permanent journal entries, which reveal important plot points and are available in any new game that you start. Take a different path or progress further down the journey to full repair, and you’ll find more stories, and get a better picture of what is actually going on in this fractured world.
However, the story may be branching, but the gameplay is exactly the same every time you play it through, essentially. The minerals are in the same place, the caches are in the same place, even the fast-moving anomalies feel like they are locked in regardless of where you go and what you do. Perhaps that is just my imagination, but the fact is that Breached doesn’t offer enough of a varied experience to bother with a second playthrough – particularly in light of the above gameplay issues. I want to know what is going on with the story, but I simply cannot bring myself to gather yet another bunch of minerals over the course of yet another day to get the payoff of a new journal entry.
This is just another symptom of an issue that Breached suffers from throughout the experience; it’s barely a game. The few gameplay elements there are that encourage traditional risk/reward choices and progression feel like they were added just so they could call it a survival game, rather than an exploration experience. The only reason Breached hasn’t received a lower score is because I feel like this mistake covers up something that could have been really brilliant.
Focusing on the exploration aspect rather than the survival aspect would have been a better idea, and while even the experience of exploration would have been marred somewhat by the low perspective and clunky controls, you would at least be able to take the time to enjoy the world, rather than sprinting about gathering minerals and resources. Breached isn’t a great game, but I feel like it has something that would appeal to those who do enjoy slightly more non-traditional games.
Overall, give Breached a go if you want to try something very pretty, with lots to explore and an interesting plot – but don’t expect a survival game. In that regard it doesn’t deliver; but it still has a certain something that, perhaps, will make it worth your time.
- Gameplay: Drones and journals, gather resources and try to repair your shelter
- Graphics: Gorgeous deserts, coastlines, and crumbling settlements
- Sound: Standard sci-fi, nothing fantastic
- Presentation: Should’ve focused more on the exploration aspect and axed the gameplay mechanics
- Simple controls and gameplay.
- Some semblance of a gripping story - for the first playthrough at least.
- Lovely environments.
- Adequate levels of mystery.
- Not really a survival game in the traditional sense.
- The plot is nonsensical until you play multiple times through, and gives little reason to replay - same gameplay, just different stories.
- Controls are clunky, perspective makes movement difficult and there doesn't seem to be a clear way to get to some areas that you need to get to - the game doesn't give you a chance to mess up and experiment.
- Death is supposed to induce a seizure, and it certainly feels like you are having one.