You can listen to this review by clicking play above.
From BattleTech to Mobile Suit Gundam, our most popular mech stories don’t really focus on part alignment or radar types or laser variations. Mechanical particulars are either minimized or, if present in any major way, largely aestheticized.
Really excited to pick this up for PC, but I did notice a typo. In the card in the middle of the review, it says the Platform is “PS4”. I did a quick Google because I was about to pop on my friends Discord and spread the good word. Sadly, it is PC only (as said in Podcast yesterday, and soon to Mac and Linux).
But just as FTL got to the heart of space opera—the experimental ship, the camaraderie of a ragtag crew, the spiraling of crises—Subset Games has found the core of the mech fantasy with Into the Breach.
I absolutely love games that can nail the “feel” of a genre without being so concerned about perfectly recreating the mechanics of what we see on screen. It really plays into the strengths of video games as a medium.
I’m also getting a really tabletop vibe from some of this, since it feels like the mechanics are designed in a way to bring out these kinds of micronarratives as part of a larger mech savior fantasy in this interesting universe. Just watching the videos, I can see the street level action playing out in my mind’s eye. Watching Austin stunt on the Vek by backing up his mech to dash punch it into a mountain literally sold me on the game.
Hey folks, just wanted to note that we now have an audio version of the pod in the article and also in the Podcast feed! It includes a short convo about the game between Rob and I after the read, so stick around for that!
I cannot wait to get home from work to play this game. One of my favorite streamers who streams a lot of FTL got a copy a day early and I watched a ton of his stream last night. Just the initial few moments of the tutorial with the reveal of the mechanic of the attack setups and the push/pull just about made my head explode. The possibility space of just the initial 3 mechs was readily apparent and it seems that just like FTL there will be amount huge depth and replayability.
Oh, and the Ben Prunty soundtrack is awesome.
Edit: one more thing, I really enjoy the article read podcasts. They’re what got me to actually check the site more often than just listening to the podcast.
As for the format of this review, as I’ve said I’m enjoying what Waypoint is doing with reviews, so I want to give some constructive criticism. The placement and size of the summary box is a little wonky in this article. It’s in the middle of the article, which is weird; wouldn’t you expect it to be on one of the ends of the article? (Also, on larger screens it gets way too big.) I do really like using a “review summary” rather than a score. I’ve always been bothered by scoring systems, and my favorite reviewers usually choose to work without them.
Regarding Into The Breach, I might have to pick this up. I never really played much FTL and couldn’t quite get into Invisible, Inc. despite it being very much my style. I love the time I’ve put into XCOM but returning to these games always feels intimidating. This game seems like it could hook me. The small screens and clear dynamics kind of remind me of Michael Brough’s design philosophy. Reducing space can actually lead to a better experience by letting players focus on the meaningful choices in front of them. Also, I want to play more mech games because I liiike big robots yet I never watch the big robot shows or play the big robot games? Dang!! !!
Thanks for the feedback! Will work on adjusting the size in the future, our CMS is a bit wonky with images sometimes.
Re: placement. Part of the reason that so many sites use these review summary boxes (and put them so high up in the review) is because readers rarely stick around to the end of an article. Honestly, I think most folks would be shocked by how early the average reader leaves even a very short a story. Insofar as it’s our job to communicate info to our reader, the summary ensures that the bulk of them will actually see it!
I adore the rhythm of this piece, all leading to that banger of a closing paragraph - really makes me want to dive deeper into mech stuff after only scratching the surface with some anime here and there.
Oh, okay! That’s insightful. The reason I was bothered by it being in the middle of the article, rather than at the beginning or end, is that it signified to me, as a reader looking at the whole article, that the review was over when it actually resumed directly below. Could it work as a scroll/follow sidebar? I don’t know how your mobile support works, and also I don’t have any experience with web design so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Keep on truckin
Reading the review, listening to Austin and Rob talk about the game, and then playing it for myself fills me with a deep sadness. Not because the game is bad but because it reminds me of the dead elephant (mastodon?) in the room: Front Mission.
The series that didn’t (have to) choose between the visceral dance of battle, the garage aspect, and the RPG story aspect. It did them all oh so satisfyingly well.
It makes me wonder if Subset Games would be interested in making an actual Front Mission-level video game if given the budget/time/team to do it, because hot diggity damn I want a new one of those. (Or a spiritual successor to it.)
I know Phantom Brigade is in development but to make a full-fledged Front Mission (or a true successor to it), I’m afraid you need quite the budget.
Really loved the opening meditation on the aesthetic of mechs. Never really thought about the relation between the attention paid to technical design and the fact that it’s all purely ornamental.
I need to sign up for a newsletter that can tell me the moment this game hits Macs.
I would be really curious to know if Austin ever played Cybernator or Metal Warriors on the SNES. I feel like those games scratched a serious mech itch for me as a teen, but I haven’t played them since.
I’m just shocked at the idea that people wouldn’t stick through the entire review. I go to Waypoint and other sites for a review of the game, not just a hot take. So I make sure I read the entire review.
So, thank you for taking the time to go into detail when you review games, as a consumer who wants to get the most bang for their buck, I appreciate it. Granted, if you are a listener of the podcast it is obvious you were already high on this game
I also am a mac user, and I found that if you buy the game through Humble Bundle, you can get a digital download, which you can then wrap in Wine, which I have done, and it works extremely well! I’ve not run into problems yet.
I really like Front Mission! 1 and 3 are all time faves of mine, and 4 is pretty solid too (though I never fully finished it). 5 seems incredible, but the fan-patched version was super unstable for me.
That said: I also think Front Mission too often turns into a stand up brawl, where you’re just slowly doing damage back and forth between units that are basically standing in place (or moving back and forth a couple of spaces over and over again). What makes Into the Breach special is that it never does this. Everything is pretty vulnerable, and each tile really matters in a way that it doesn’t in FM. It means that you rarely if ever have a “repeat” turn, and that’s a huge and distinct thing in the genre, and something I’d love more tactics games to learn from!