Breached (PC) - ReviewChris Matulich , posted on 29 June 2016 / 3,889 Views
While I often enjoy playing indie games, there are just so many with seeming potential that I find it hard to keep track of the ones that are worth playing until they've already made a big splash. When I learned of Breached, however, I was instantly intrigued by the idea of being isolated on an alien planet with only eight days of life support remaining, and nothing more than a computer and a couple of drones at your disposal. Coupled with a mystery that unfolds rather uniquely through the game’s point and click interface, and Breached quickly became an indie game that I looked forward to playing.
Breached begins with the player being dragged out of hyper sleep as the planetary station they're currently inhabiting is encountering major malfunctions. After reading the logs, it becomes apparent that all life support, including hyper sleep functionality, will cease to operate within eight days unless repairs are made. Via reading different journals and logs left behind by other inhabitants of the station and artifacts collected on drone hunts, as well as your own personal journal that details the events of each day, it becomes clear that something strange has been going on since two groups first began exploring.
While the story has its interesting moments, it's hard to find a complete picture over the course of a single playthrough given the way in which it's told. As the different journals and logs flash across the screen, the player can choose to explore different words, giving the game something of a “choose your own adventure feel”, but this does come off as rather forced. I like to be able to experience most of a game's story in a single playthrough, but Breached requires you to play it multiple times in order to see the plot in its entirety, which feels like an attempt to artificially increase the game's replayability.
That's not the only way in which the Breached is bloated by artificial replayability either. You play as a scientist but never really quite leave your command center, so the gameplay feels oddly reminiscent of sitting in front of your own PC. The game grants you eight days in which to restore operations on the station, with each taking the form of a certain number of actions (roughly three actions per day).
Your time can be spent attempting to repair certain parts of the station, trying to synthesize fuel from raw materials, or exploring the surrounding area with a drone. Though there's not much to do, finding materials and artifacts can take quite a long time, and finding the right mixture of materials for fuel will definitely take up more than one playthrough.
The bulk of Breached is spent behind the drone, scavenging for materials and artifacts. The drone is strictly controlled using the mouse and is a touch floaty, feeling a bit like the classic Marble Madness as you roll around, and even more so when you encounter the remarkably marble-like magnetic anomalies. Given the title's loose controls, escaping these anomalies will take some practice, and at full speeds it gets hard to maneuver the drone, but doing so is necessary in order to outrun the magnetic pull of the anomalies.
Once you find a balance between speed and maneuverability, exploring the barren wasteland can be exhilarating - at first. However, with only three different areas to explore (areas that don't quite feel much different from each other), only a handful of things to collect, and no way to defend against the anomalies, it can get boring rather quickly.
Other parts of Breached can also become rather tedious. After collecting materials with the drone, you can use them to repair the station or craft fuel. Repairing the station is pretty straight forward and just requires the right kind of equipment. Making fuel is more interactive and it takes some guesswork in order to create a viable mixture, but you can only attempt to make fuel up to three times a day, and even then only if you don't take trips with the drone or repair any part of the station.
The time management system functions well in terms of giving the game a sense of urgency, as you'll have to plan out each day in order to ensure your survival. However, once you've discovered the fuel that gives 100% effectiveness, Breached becomes more of a daily Farmville type of game than a survivalist one, especially on the subsequent playthroughs that are essential for experiencing the full story.
While Breached has issues, the visuals aren't amongst them. Though there's not much to the landscape, what is there is beautifully designed. The game world is scattered with equipment from long ago, helping to give the desolate feel of being truly alone. The bright sun lends itself to highlighting the mountainous landscape and its otherworldly feel. The anomaly effects are well done as well, as the magnetic fields coming off them realistically distort the drone's field of view. Yet, like the exploration itself, the scenery gets tired and repetitive over time; all three areas look the same and not nearly enough of the planet is explorable.
Breached falters and is unable to take complete advantage of an intriguing premise and gameplay ideas. If these elements had been expanded upon instead of so much effort being invested in creating an artificial sense of replayability, Breached could have been another indie gem. As it stands, it doesn't quite reach its potential, though at a low price point it's worth consideration.
This review is based on a digital copy of Breached for the PC, provided by the publisher.