I’m economical when it comes to gaming. When I hear about a new video game, I push it back into the deep recesses of my mind and try to dismiss that FOMO, simply so I don’t have to pay full price for a game, or do something drastic like purchase a new system to play one. I’ll either wait for it to go on sale, get old, or in the case of games not accessible to my current devices, get ported.
When Into the Breach debuted in early 2018, buddy, I was upset. “It’s just like Advance Wars,” friends told me, “and you love that game.” Indeed I do. But at the time, Into the Breach was a PC exclusive and I had none. Later that year when it was ported to the Nintendo Switch and MacBook, I waited for a console release. It never came.
But thanks to the totally profitless Netflix, I’m finally able to murder some kaiju strategically and consider war scenarios procedurally, because this mech tactics roguelike is finally on iOS. If you’re a Netflix subscriber, that means that Into the Breach is available to you right now for free. If you’ve played the game before, consider playing it again to scope out all the new Advanced Edition update features, like additional pilot classes and squads, missions, and way more Vek. And if you’re like me and haven’t had a chance to play this incredible title from Subset Games, the developers of FTL: Faster Than Light, you’re in for a real treat.
Blockbuster sci-fi, time-traveling fun
Into the Breach is a turn-based strategy game in which you control a squad of piloted mechs and must kill a slew of giant monsters, called Vek, on an 8×8 grid. Players know where these Vek are attacking in advance, thanks to some time-travel beats in the storyline, and have to strategically plan their every move to defeat these monsters while protecting city buildings full of civilians, and ticking off other objectives as they come. Its lore, feel, and storyline are akin to blockbuster sci-fi movies that toss in elements of Japanese culture, like Pacific Rim, Godzilla, and maybe even Star Wars’ expanded universe.
Every level is a battle against these Vek, and each presents you with a randomized “scenario” that gives you a few additional goals to hit during your warfare. Those scenarios might include defending a train full of civilians, retrieving an alien pod that holds vital information, or challenges like not getting hit more than once during a level. The number of Vek you’re required to defeat is also randomized, as is any loot you may find during a level. This is where that roguelike part comes in.
Like playing chess with mechs and monsters
Earlier I compared this game to Advance Wars, but that’s not quite accurate. Into the Breach is chess, Advance Wars is checkers. Into the Breach is for scholars, Advance Wars is for babies (sorry!). The former game has a strict ruleset that keeps ramping up in interesting ways as the game progresses, and while the same can be said about Advance Wars, Into the Breach doubles down on its brutality with pilot permadeath.
I, admittedly, am still on the training wheels of easy mode while I get the hang of things. I keep making stupid mistakes, like placing my mechs in spots where they’re open to being slammed into a building full of civilians or shooting Vek that will pummel into an ally and cause damage. The game has a “reset turn” time travel option that acts as a mulligan for war and instantly lets me fix my mistake, but you can only use it once per level, and I almost always make the same mistake twice anyway. It’s honestly as fun to lose in this game as it is to win for the sake of figuring out how to best use your mech squad.
Oh, and the soundtrack rips. Ben Prunty, who also worked on FTL, Subnautica: Below Zero, and Celeste, crafted an incredible score that succeeds at building a tense atmosphere built for war. The Advance Edition update adds even more Prunty to the soundtrack, and I’m all for it. Strap in your best true wireless earbuds when you play this, like the AirPods 3. You’ll want them handy.
Free for Netflix subscribers (and password moochers)
If you’re a Netflix subscriber, Into the Breach is free for your Android or iOS device — just download the game and log in with your Netflix account information. This is just one of many Netflix-published upcoming iOS games that are set to release in 2022.
It’s also important to note that even if you’ve played this title on a different console, it’s worth revisiting in the palm of your hand and with touch screen controls — the mobile version is set to become one of the best iPhone games and packs in so much additional content. Plus, dragging and dropping mech soldiers and punching massive bug monsters in the face is a great way to start that morning commute or lunch break at work. I know from experience.