Space has become the final frontier of your dignity. RedRuins Softworks has transcended comical absurdity to the “astronomical level,” creating one of the most “unironically ironic experiences” in gaming. Put on your space helmet, grab your oxygen tank made from a condom, and prepare your sanity for an irrational stretch of nonstop one-liners and endless fart jokes. Breathedge is an indie first-person sci-fi survival sandbox adventure where you’ll experience Alien Isolation without the “alien,” space station AI that incessantly yell for you to “put it back in, and an aquarium for displaying the bloated carcasses of hamsters. Breathedge is available for PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, PC, and Xbox One.
Breathedge: Space Is an Infinite Abyss of “Old Man Dirty Jokes”
You play as a humble simpleton taking his grandpa’s ashes to an outer space funeral. Suddenly, you find yourself flung into a catastrophic conspiracy of militant sentient coffins and radical intergalactic organizations. As dramatic as this all sounds, Breathedge will suck the very excitement out of the player with its repetitive, uninspired narrative and gameplay. The writing is intentionally ironic as it is unintentionally moronic. From the very moment you begin, Breathedge will force-feed you its cringeworthy jokes on a treadmill, spewing out a comical gag one after another at every chance possible. The moments I found myself enjoying the game the most were when everything was quiet, allowing me to drift about peacefully with the ominous yet faint background ambiance.
While your mileage of enjoyment of the suffocating humor may vary, your spacesuit AI will never stop drilling into your head that the game is “supposed to be funny and ironic.” It’s like the developers watched a few episodes of Rick and Morty or Robot Chicken and then proclaimed themselves to be comedic geniuses. The game is an endless spiral of buffoonery that becomes more humiliating to the soul than offensive. It seems RedRuins didn’t understand that “lampshading” a cliche doesn’t automatically make it OK to use said cliche, especially in gaming. Breathedge obnoxiously expects you to laugh at every prank and joke after giving a full explanation of the punchline.
An example would be a mission at the very beginning where you are told to craft a complex item called the “crap imposed by the developers.” Upon preparing the object, you come to realize that it’s just a useless pile of junk shaped like a particular male body organ. You will be given the two choices of either placing it on the ground or beating in your skull with it (I chose the latter). It’s an awful shame the AI has to babble incessantly at every moment because there are a few rare moments when the game is authentically funny.
However, these instances are quickly ruined by the annoying chatter of the spacesuit narrator. Muting the AI’s voice is an option; however, within all the useless mumbo jumbo, the AI will sometimes give you a hint needed to complete your vague objective. The counterintuitive UI does no favors with its Task Log, so listen for essential information amidst the narrative’s drivel is a headache. Alas, Breathedge is a game where there’s a dedicated button to urinate [F], and giant space balls of mayo are a thing. So expecting a decent narrative from this ironic title is rather dubious in the first place.
A Hodgepodge of Half-Baked Gameplay Mechanics
The padded-out gameplay’s pacing respects the player as much as the story does — in other words, not at all. The first half of Breathedge is a drag with the core gameplay loop of making long trips back and forth to your base. The problem lies not in the gameplay itself but in how it’s implemented. Personally, I wouldn’t say I like to grind more than I’m inclined, but Breathedge takes the artificial longevity of gameplay to the max. Tools have the durability of wafer cookies, causing you to make multiple trips back and forth to your base to craft more. Inventory space is severely limited, with essentials items like tools taking up unnecessary room in your inventory.
While upgrading gear in a game like Subnautica makes the player more efficient in resource gathering, Breathedge increases the amount of unintuitive space between you and mandatory points of interest. Not to mention, the controls are often unresponsive and clunky to use. Probably RedRuins’s Breathedge‘s biggest offender is when the player flies out to an objective marker, only for the AI to say, “You need a new tool to farm this item or access this area.” The game will constantly gate the player’s progression, punish free exploration, and require unnecessary trips back and forth for crafting new tools. Later, base building is introduced; however, the mechanic turns out to be useless because the second half of the game has you abandon everything you’ve worked so hard for in the first half — which leads us to the “chapters” portion of Breathedge.
Breathedge has six chapters, or what I like to call the “six stages of grief.” The first three chapters will have you clinging to life as you float about from debris field to debris field, desperately searching for anything that will make your lonely, dismal life in outer space more functional. It’s a monotonous grind, but admittedly this is where most players will enjoy the game the most. On the other hand, Chapters 4 to 6 will have you leave everything behind to discover more of the hidden mysteries of the narrative. Now, instead of making drudgerous trips back and forth in space, you’ll be walking down long winding corridors, only to arrive at an obstacle that forces you to walk back to the beginning, craft a “new item,” and then walk back. Repeat this “walking sim” process multiple times for over several hours, and you’ll soon understand the gist of these chapters. As Breathedge‘s story becomes more convoluted and confusing, the gameplay follows suit, becoming more and more of a tedious bore until the end.
Intergalactic Eye Candy
While writing and gameplay are a mess, the visuals are not. Graphically, Breathedge looks positively stunning and runs flawlessly. The vast, unforgiving distances between dilapidated space stations and crumbling debris fields are unquestionably a euphony for the eyeballs. If there was one thing that RedRuins nailed time and time again throughout Breathedge is its graphical recreation of what being stranded in outer space looks and feels like. As for the soundtrack, it pretty just exists for the sole purpose of filling in the void. The ambient arrangement when drifting in space was pleasant to the ears, but the rest of the music often didn’t sound like it matched the setting. Unfortunately, I came across multiple issues with audio cut-offs, poor quality samples, or just a complete lack of audio in a couple of areas.
RedRuins’s Tragic Comedy
RedRuins Softworks has designed a beautiful-looking game that lacks an interesting story or any reason to enjoy its sandbox mechanics. The unsufferable humor quickly becomes unbearable after the first few minutes and only worsens as the game sluggishly progresses. If you still wish to play Breathedge despite its many shortcomings, I would recommend playing for the first half and then promptly quitting, as you’ve experienced the best part of this mediocre game.
However, if you dare to stomach the unending cringe and distasteful gameplay, I would recommend playing on Story Mode to save yourself hours of restricted grinding. To conclude, playing Breathedge is the equivalent of unironically beating yourself in the head to death with “filler imposed by the developers.” RedRuins had an excellent foundation for a unique outer space survival sandbox experience but ended up a jumbled mess of half-baked ideas. Breathedge sadly turned to be nothing more than a festering heap of unending fart jokes and pointless grind fests.
- Looks fantastic and runs without issue
- Contains some sandbox survival enjoyment in the first half
- Endless insufferable humor
- Poor gameplay mechanics and pacing
- Lackluster narrative and characters
- Artificial progression barriers
- Inconsistent gameplay throughout