I admit that I tend to be drawn deep into narratives that have a mystery. Zero Escape does this to marvelous effect, but I also was curious when stumbling around the house in Gone Home and Danganronpa scratched my investigative itch lovingly. So when Breached proudly proclaimed it had a mystery, I was already prepared to quote Brad Pitt and keep asking “what’s in the boooxxx”. It’s a shame Breached never manages to create interest in the mystery, through its narrative or gameplay.
Breached is a sci-fi narrative-driven title by Drama Drifters. After waking up from a cryogenic sleep, you find yourself abandoned on a planet with 8 days of supplies. While you’ll be trying to assemble an oxygen unit and enough fuel to get off the planet, your character writes with non-specific regret of what happened with the mysterious accident.
The story is delivered by your character creating blog entries. You then pick a word for the protagonist to expand upon, until the blog entry is filled. You’ll then gain access to tags that can be used to access other blog entries by people before you (who may also be you).
Already, you may see a problem. The mystery exists because your character refuses to acknowledge the truth for the audience. While there is signs of memory loss, it seems the protagonist could potentially recall what happened but, in contrast to the player, just doesn’t want to. In this regard, it seems Breached wants to be Silent Hill 2 in the “I did something naughty and want to forget” style of writing, but doesn’t manage to go beyond making the main character a story obstacle to never be surmounted.
Although that isn’t to say the characterization makes you want to learn the mystery, as there is very little. It feels very monotone from the entries, like someone filing a tax report, only breaking the monotone to absorb themselves in self-loathing, hopelessness, and misery.
The main character just doesn’t have much of a life beyond his memento more-induced sadness. I could have done with knowing he used to be happy once. At the bare minimum, I would have liked a reason to believe he actually wants to live and doesn’t want to take a suitless stroll on the planet’s surface.
Moving swiftly onto the other side of the coin, the gameplay is divided into two parts. The first part has you try to navigate a drone in a first-person view as you extract minerals and storage pods by staring them down within 1 metre of them. In this regard the controls are relaxingly simple. Left click to go forward, right click to brake, wiggle mouse around to decide where to go.
That said, it quickly gets to this awkward point where you begin to hunger for more controls. You wish there was a jump button for the canyon leaps (or to get out of a glitch that I once did) and a map screen so you can look up pre-found items or at least memorize where you found things. The latter control is an especially big deal as you do have a very limited storage container, so you may decide to go back later.
Fortunately, you do have one tool at your disposal to help track down the minerals and pods you need: a tracker that’ll tell you the closest one of either. Considering minerals are plentiful and you need pods to help rebuild an oxygen unit, this can be a huge source of frustration as you are usually led to the nearest mineral instead. However, once you’ve fixed one problem (minerals for fuel, pods for oxygen machine), the tracker will no longer lead you to the nearest item needed to rectify it.
This entire time, your biggest foe is the anomalies that come in different shapes, colors and effects. They all amount to breaking your drone (which is a big deal we’ll get to in a moment), although some are hard to spot while others move, and even others will drag you to them if you decide to crawl past them. Overall, it made for an interesting challenge, with the yellow ones (that can drag you to them) being a source of frustration due to how powerful they are at destroying my drones.
The second gameplay avenue is burning energy. You only have so much energy which is used to send out drones, manufacture minerals into fuel, or hack into pods for parts. This will be where you succeed or fail to get off the planet. While it sounds like an interesting concept, your success is based on the guessing of mineral composition for fuel and randomized pod parts reaped. So you may have a lucky run and get everything needed, or you may realize you’re out of energy without hitting your objective.
Overall, Breached gets a 5/10. Even for a game kicking about at $6.99/£5.00, I find myself amazed at how empty it all feels. Breached feels like a smaller part of a bigger game rather than its own independent spirit. It sadly leans too much on the prospect of providing an interesting mystery to unravel, but never manages to sell me on the idea it was something worth learning. Even now, I wonder if it was a tale best left amongst the stars. After all, I believe some stories from beyond our world are best unknown. Not necessarily due to the mind-bending terror, unfortunate implications, or the knowledge it contains within, but rather because it’s not interesting to anyone.
A PC review code for Breached was provided by Nkidu Games, Inc. for the purpose of this review