GOTY 2018: The Top 10 Games of the Year: #4
Welcome to the Tenth Annual Silicon Sasquatch Top 10 Games of the Year list! Using our tried-and-true methodology (i.e., we play a lot of games and argue until we’re tired,) we've finally narrowed down the 10 games that we feel accurately represent the best and most important that 2018 had to offer.
#4 – Into the Breach
Subset Games | February 27, 2018 | Windows, Mac, Linux, Switch
Though selecting Into the Breach had been a no-brainer during our deliberations, I was left scratching my head a bit when it came time to write this piece. After singing the praises of an attrition-heavy mech-based tactical strategy game, I was tasked with writing about, well, another attrition-heavy mech-based tactical strategy game.
With nearly 10 months passed from the release, I had to reinstall Into the Breach to regain perspective. Why did we like two of these games, and why did we like one of them more? On paper the differences might seem minuscule, a distinction between Battletech’s Unity-engine based glory and Into the Breach’s stylized isometric pixel-art. There are thematic differences as well, as you face down alien foes instead of enemy pilots.
But the single biggest difference is the core question you ask as you play. In Battletech, the constant financial demands and challenging missions prompt the question “How do I win?” But the overwhelming odds and forced sacrifices of Into the Breach necessitate a different one; “Can I win?”
Subset’s previous title, FTL: Faster Than Light, has its DNA on clear display. Though Into the Breach appears tactical on its surface, in practice it’s a roguelike puzzle game. Even on “Normal” difficulty, it is crushingly punishing, an exercise in painful mistakes and constant triage. Despite full knowledge of your enemies and their impending actions, there isn’t always a solution to be found.
Into the Breach’s brilliant soundtrack, the brainchild of Ben Prunty, is icing on the cake, an emotional melange of math rock and electronic influences. And though its appearance is simple, the pixel art is at once evocative of the 16-bit era of gaming and razor-sharp, delivering exactly what it needs to convey while looking damn good.
Between its brutal difficulty, conventional but well-executed apocalyptic/time travel science-fiction story, nostalgic visuals and pensive music, the game wrenches feelings out of you. Fear as you find yourself in a hopeless situation. Agony as you lose citizens and pilots. Elation with each solution found. The sense of accomplishment that comes with your first full completion of the game is, frankly, beyond compare.
Confusingly bound to the PC at its release, Into the Breach has finally found its way to the Mac and Nintendo Switch. I’m glad it finally made the jump, because like its predecessor it’s an ideal and challenging on the-go-game. It may take you several attempts to emerge the victor, but that’s okay—you have all the time in the world. —Spencer Tordoff