Nothing builds a haunting atmosphere quite like isolation. With the right approach, setting a player down among a hostile world makes it seem all the more vibrant, all the more alive and engaging. It’s why gamers fondly remember the likes of Tallon IV or the Spencer Mansion over a decade after playing them, and the developers of Breached seemed set to recreate this experience once again. Unfortunately, they fell just short of true success.
The game’s story is one of survival. You play as Corus Valott, a man awakening from cryostasis only to find his world in ruins and shelter damaged. With and only eight days of supplies left, you are tasked with using drones to scavenge resources from the world beyond, and learn just what happened out there.
The premise itself is a good one, and both the visual and literary narrative elements are spot on. Day after day you wake up, reading some of Valott’s thoughts, selecting certain choices to alter what he records in his journal. From there on you can examine past messages, attempt to synthesize fuel from recovered materials and deploy drones to several excavation sites. Despite the limited options on screen, the minimalism proves to be remarkably immersive, as there is little to distract you from the ticking clock. You can only do so much each day, and every drone mission can only return with a very limited resource payload, which requires careful planning.
However, while the visuals on each drone site are striking and the mysterious energy anomalies remarkably menacing despite a simplistic design, several elements undermine the core appeal of Breached. For starters, every area is little more than a glorified scavenger hunt with little in the way of direction or real hints, which can leave players utterly lost or prowling aimlessly about for hours at a time. This only becomes a bigger issue with return visits, and finding the already sparsely scattered resources becomes a needle in a haystack affair. This also detracts from the sense of desperation, as you can spend any amount of time at these sites and only lose the exact same number of hours each day. Even with the multiple endings on offer, the fact these expeditions can be so arduous means you’ll rarely want to replay the game more than once.
Breached is a middling game but a decent one. Patient gamers who are willing to forgive a few mechanical limitations in favour of a strong story, atmosphere and visuals are sure to get a kick out of this one. That said, if you never quite gelled with the likes of The Vanishing of Ethan Carter, give this one a miss.
BREACHED / DEVELOPER: DRAMA DRIFTERS / PUBLISHER: NKIDU GAMES INC. / PLATFORM: PC / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW