You are alone and isolated, woken unexpectedly from your cryogenic sleep. Your only friends are your lifeless drones and a backlog of journal entries. The desert is hot and barren, and the last signs of life were snuffed out long ago. Eight days of supplies. No fuel and no oxygen. This is your last stand.
Breached is an adventure survival game, played in the first-person. The game takes place over an eight day period, and will end in failure if you don’t complete your objectives. At the beginning of each day, you begin by writing a journal entry which explains more of the story, and how you came to be alone on a desert island. From here, you can go to either the map screen, or the laboratory screen.
From the map, you can send a drone to one of three areas in search of supplies. Drone missions comprise most of the gameplay, and involve journeying along the surface of the desert. You explore dunes, canyons and wreckage while searching for materials and avoiding dangerous anomalies. Minerals can be collected to synthesize fuel, while the material found in capsules can be used to repair your oxygen supply. Cargo space on your drone is limited to three objects per expedition, so you must carefully decide what you need to collect and bring back.
At the laboratory, you can open found capsules and synthesize fuel from the minerals you’ve collected. There are three different minerals to collect, and each must be combined in order to make fuel. However, you have no way of knowing how many samples of each mineral that you need, and the proportions change every time you play the game. You simply have to guess, and then try again based on your margin of failure. From here, you can tweak the formula until you get it right.
Every action you take spends a set amount of points from your energy meter. Going on a drone expedition takes 40%, and any action in the laboratory takes 30%. When you don’t have enough points to do anything else, you can end the day to progress the narrative and refill your meter. This gives you a tight window to accomplishing all of your goals, and any wasted points can be a kiss of death for your run.
Drone missions are centered entirely around collecting the materials that you’ll need in the lab. Each area has a generous assortment of minerals, but capsules are less common. The search for capsules can be a time consuming endeavor, since they’re scattered and sometimes hidden around corners and crevices. You don’t have a radar or a map, but you do have a sensor that displays the distance of the nearest object of interest. It’s non-specific, and sometimes targets the wrong thing, but it’s better than nothing.
The desert is also filled with orb-like beings called anomalies. There are three types, and each will disable your drone should you come into contact with it. If this happens, you’ll drop everything you’ve collected and be kicked back to the map screen. This is frustrating, because one lost attempt can be the difference between a successful run and needing to start all over again. But the biggest issue with anomalies comes in the way that they cause trouble.
Generally speaking, anomalies are easy to avoid. Some are slow and move on predictable routes, while others are totally stationary. Anomalies are formidable because they’re often placed in narrow passages and small pathways, sometimes obstructed from view by the rolling hills or other obstacles. As such, the easiest way to be disabled by an anomaly is through surprise. Orange anomalies are particularly nasty, capable of drawing you towards them with a magnetic pull. Sometimes you’re able to accelerate away or otherwise slide out of their field, but sometimes you can’t. Worse, you can get stuck for a minute at a time while trying to break their hold.
When you do manage to collect capsules and minerals, you will then need to process them in the lab in order to repair your oxygen and fuel supply respectively. At this point, luck becomes a huge factor in your success. Different capsules contain a different amount of components, and may contain materials that you don’t need. Tweaking the fuel formula is similarly luck based. You can get a broad idea of what needs to be changed when you fail an attempt, but there’s still some trial and error. You’ll also need to write down the details of your results. The game won’t do it for you.
Between cruising around the desert and playing in the lab, Breached has plenty of variety for a seven-dollar game, but it just isn’t that fun. Exploring the desert is tedious and basic, all centered around grabbing three things and getting back out. The enemy anomalies are annoying, but they’re also boring and lifeless. The game isn’t contemplative or peaceful enough to be a walking simulator, but its not stimulating enough to be anything more. The strategic aspect of the gameplay should be significant, but a string of good luck can completely undermine all the time and effort you’ve put into learning the game’s nuances.
Breached is a misfire, but it’s not a disaster. It’s fun to piece the story together, and the lore is well written and thoughtful. It also offers a trio of beautiful landscapes, which is notable for such a low cost game. I don’t recommend Breached to most people, but if you understand its limitations, there are oases of joy to be found among its empty deserts.