In Breached, by developer Drama Drifters, you awake from cryosleep in a damaged environmental shelter, and have only eight days to repair and refuel it before you run out of oxygen. The abandoned world outside is deserted, but not empty, and you must explore the former civilization with remote drones in order to find the materials you need to survive.
The primary gameplay of Breached is piloting the aforementioned hovering drones across the post-apocalyptic landscape, scooping up minerals for fuel and mysterious equipment caches for repair. This is controlled almost entirely with the mouse, with mouse 1 and 2 being to accelerate and stop respectively.
This simple control scheme works well enough when gliding across the sandy hills at hundreds of kilometers an hour, but somewhat less so when faced with “anomalies”, the floating balls of EM energy (think STALKER) that loiter around your objectives. They aren’t hostile, but proximity will scramble your drones and contact will break the link entirely. This is more than a threat than one would think given that changing directions or fine maneuvering is difficult by design, and you often find yourself in close proximity when trying to nab your targets. It isn’t really a problem since the control scheme contributes to the atmosphere of the game (more on that later), but it feels like an artificial source of difficulty at times.
But the risks one takes in the field tie back into the broader challenge of survival. The minerals retrieved must be synthesized into fuel, strange artifacts found in caches may also be of interest. Only a certain number of actions may be made per day however, so one must balance time between drone missions and piddling about in the lab.
A surprisingly important element is diary, which dispenses the backstory, bit by bit. Each day a new entry appears, which generate hyperlinks and hashtags for other lore. The mysteries trickle out at a good pace, and there seems to be a lot of content that varies between plays of the game, adding some replay value. This is welcome, given the drone sections have a limited selection of maps.
Despite what seems like a pressing time concern, Breached is almost… Relaxed. The way your character might wake from a good night’s rest and peruse his diary while the doom clock ticks down at first seems dissonant but instead develops an intense sense of melancholy. Your diary entries express a certain acceptance of fate (and perhaps responsibility), the anomalies seem less like enemies and more like large herbivores you shouldn’t disturb. The music and visuals cast your efforts less as an epic struggle for survival than as a errand, or perhaps a rite.
Breached is a difficult game to classify. It would be easy to peg it as a “survival game”, but the atmosphere and mechanical simplicity disqualify that somewhat. At the same time, it isn’t just an atmosphere/walking simulator, because of the urgency the mechanics have. What it does offer, however, is impressive visuals, a brooding tone, and some good writing. For 7 US$, that might be enough.
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