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Breached

Score: 73%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: Nkidu Games Inc.
Developer: Drama Drifters
Media: Download/1
Players: 1
Genre: RPG/ Strategy/ Miscellaneous

Graphics & Sound:

Breached is a game set some few hundred years in the future, where is not certain. Youíve awoken from a deep hibernation; now your task is to repair your broken generator and create fuel so you can survive. Your interaction with this world is limited to virtually operating drones that explore the sandy landscape and to your habitat, an array of brightly lit screens against a dim background. Thatís most of what youíll see in Breached: sand and screens. The landscapes are serenely beautiful at times, with ruined arches, seascapes with a hazy horizon, and other mysterious evidence of a world that has dramatically changed. There doesnít seem to be anyone else living in this world with you, but the reasons for that are a mystery that youíll have to decipher through multiple playthroughs.

In fact, clues are doled out so sparingly, you might not be certain that youíre even playing a human in this game until you get to a journal entry that mentions you are (probably) a man. The only interactions youíll have are with mysterious magnetic anomalies. These glowing orbs donít seem to have a name or a description other than this. Some of them move around, but itís unclear if they are alive or being controlled. I might be reading too much into it, but it did seem like some of them were hunting my drone. If you venture too close to them, theyíll cut off your drone connection, and youíll have to start your exploration all over again. In this game, thatís a real danger, so these orbs take on a menacing persona, whether or not they are sentient.

Music is limited to an ambient background track. It is rather light and airy when youíre out exploring, but there is a menacing, foreboding one when youíre back in the habitat, facing the reality of your situation.


Gameplay:

Breached begins as you awaken from a hibernation. Why you were hibernating, where you are, even who you are remains a mystery. What you do know is that your habitat is in need of repairs. You must make fuel and you must repair your generator, otherwise, youíll run out of oxygen in 8 days.

Breached is a game about resource management, but your main resource is your energy. You can work yourself to exhaustion each day, then you must rest. Drones will exhaust you, making fuel will exhaust you, and opening capsules will exhaust you, each to a different extent. You have to manage these "exhaustion points" or energy in order to maximize the amount of work you can accomplish, and ultimately, in order to repair your habitat and survive. The game mechanic reminded me of Gods Will Be Watching, though it seems you can more easily predict how much each action will cost you in Breached.

What you canít seem to predict is how to synthesize the fuel you need. In theory, once you learn where all the capsules are, you can easily repair the generator. However, even if you find enough minerals, there are no clues as to how to synthesize fuel. There seems to be some trick to it, but you'll still have to try the synthesis at least twice to get it right (I don't think the game allows you to guess the right combination on the first try).

Other than that, the main action in this game is flying drones out in order to retrieve minerals and capsules. It can be quite calming, with the desert landscape and the soft background music. However, after a few tries with that fuel synthesis, it can be a bit tedious as well. Youíll likely memorize the locations of minerals and capsules after a few playthroughs, but thatís not necessarily a good thing. The zen-like landscape can seem like it goes on forever when youíre retrieving the same mineral from the same distant corner of the map for the nth time. The only thing that is a bit unpredictable is the movement of those glowing orb anomalies. Some of them seem to have paths, but some of them seem to venture off when they "see" you.

The mystery of the game is the main motivator. Those questions of "why" get answered gradually through your journal. You can choose different options each time you read the journal for the day. For example, if you want to know more about the "chaos" you just went through, click that, and it will log an entry describing that. But if you want to choose a different option, youíll have to play through the game again. Donít worry, though. Itís quite likely that youíll need to repeat the game again in order to beat it. Still, I did find myself interested in filling out all the details of the journal. For example, you find out that there have been storms ravaging this world for years. But what caused the storm? Is my character involved somehow? And it sounds like he was left behind on this world, but why, and by whom? Getting into the later parts of the game, you discover that you might have done something terribly wrong, and perhaps you were trying to cure something in yourself, some sort of sickness, mental or otherwise. The way this journal, particularly in this example, is written is actually very clever: "If what I did was wrong, then Iíve paid for it in years of solitude." It strings you along just enough to give you a sense of what is happening, but leaves you wanting to find out more. Another aspect of the game that hints at multiple playthroughs being required: secret journals are revealed each time you play through (or rather, each time you suffocate yourself due to not fixing everything in time).


Difficulty:

Breached is one of those games you have to play through multiple times unless you are truly gifted or lucky. You just wonít have all the information you need, for one. Second, it can take some time to learn how to best manage your energy resources so that you repair everything under the 8 day time limit. Still, just playing through and remembering what to do next time isnít necessarily hard, itís just tedious.

One thing that is difficult is the lack of any kind of map while youíre out flying the drone. The landscape and the scant few landmarks in it tend to all blend together. I found myself circling around many times, because I just couldnít remember where I had gone before. There is a proximity indicator when youíre near something of interest, but itís very limited in range and usefulness. If it would at least have different chimes for different resources, or a directional indicator (blip: you are facing this thing, boop: you are facing away) or at least a long range resource scanner, then maybe the lack of a map would be considered a fun challenge.

The most needlessly difficult part of this game, however, is that aforementioned fuel synthesis. Now, there may be an exact pattern to follow in order to figure out the synthesis, but I couldnít figure it out. It seems roughly to be: try some combination of minerals, look at the quality, try another combination, look at the quality, see which mineral you need more or less of, try again. What I know for sure is that it requires multiple synthesis attempts in order to figure out the pattern. Itís frustrating, and itís a rather cheap way to get you to spend more of your precious days (and therefore more time) in each playthrough. Although the rest of the game is pretty static (locations of minerals and capsules are always the same), the formula for fuel synthesis changes in each playthrough, so youíll have to figure this out every time.


Game Mechanics:

Drones are your main source of action in Breached, and the game does handle them well. It handles nicely, floating along and stopping relatively quickly - much like youíd expect a drone to handle. The game seems designed well around the drone flight, and nothing feels out of reach due to your controls or any problems related to them. I mean, things do feel out of reach occasionally, but I assume that half the minerals are just supposed to be inaccessible. Some of them are just so well guarded by anomalies that it is just impossible to get to them.

Nicely designed as the drone flight is, the rest of the game is just pointing and clicking on menu items. Several times I wondered if this was just a "Drone Simulator" with some story attached. At some point, I halfway expected to start walking around as a person, or to get upgrades for my drone, but no, that sort of gameplay variety never happened. Fly your drone, pick up stuff, and repeat; that is the game, essentially.

Now, that doesnít mean Breached is some terrible game, itís just not for everyone. In fact, it gave me a bit of nostalgia for old school games that had this type of game style (half action, half story and resource management). Iím thinking way back old school, by the way - Amiga era, DOS, that sort of time period. There was just something that kept driving me to go back to Breached and made me want to discover its secrets.

Iím left with some mixed feelings for Breached. I love the sense of uncovering a story piece by piece. I love the mystery. However, I wish it were smarter about its challenges. After a while, it just feels like a game memorization and repetition. And at times, the mystery doesnít feel like enough to overcome the frustration. And to be honest, after beating the game, the ending doesnít seem like the true goal. Itís the multiple playthroughs that fill out the details of the story that are the real goal of the game. So if you pace yourself and approach Breached with that in mind, it can be a pretty engaging experience.


-Fights with Fire, GameVortex Communications
AKA Christin Deville

Minimum System Requirements:



OS: 64-bit Windows Vista or later, Processor: 2 GHz dual-core 64-bit CPU, Memory: 4 GB RAM, Graphics: DirectX 10 compatible GPU with 1 GB video RAM, DirectX: Version 10, Storage: 5 GB available space, Additional Notes: Integrated Intel graphics are not supported. They should work (Intel HD 4000-series or better), but with issues.
 

Test System:



Win 10 64bit, 16 GB, Intel Core i7-4720HQ CPU 2.6 GHz, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 M

Related Links:



Nintendo 3DS 7th Dragon III Code: VFD Sony PlayStation4 Umbrella Corps

 
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