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'Into the Breach' makes impact upon PC launch

The team behind spacefaring hit "FTL: Faster Than Light" has returned with stomping mech action title "Into the Breach," whose launch trailer and initial reviews leave a suitable impression.

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The team behind spacefaring hit "FTL: Faster Than Light" has returned with stomping mech action title "Into the Breach," whose launch trailer and initial reviews leave a suitable impression.

The two-person studio that debuted with 2012's "FTL: Faster Than Light" is back with a new and appealing spin on the strategy genre. Riffing on a concept the studio is calling "micro-strategy," the game is about defending the earth from an invading force of giant insects. Much like in the "Pacific Rim" movies, players use oversized, humanoid tanks to fend off dangerous beasts.

With a retro aesthetic reminiscent of classics like "Advance Wars" and the original "X-COM" games, each level of "Into the Breach" is contained within a comparitively small area.

Although the player will be frequently outnumbered by enemy units, those aliens make their next moves rather obvious. That goes against prevailing trends in turn-based strategy games, but here the key is to use the aliens' predictability against them, even making them accidentally fight each other, in order to keep human cities safe.

This lends a puzzle element to each battle as it unfolds, while randomly-generated levels, additional objectives, and a generous roster of mechs and equipment make for a multiplicity of possible combinations. Subset Games' first title, "FTL," became a runaway success with its ambitious concoction of crew management and against-all-odds survival.

"Into the Breach" continues with that underdog theme, but in a more forgiving manner. Failure is not an option -- instead, players are whisked back to the start of an alternative, branching timeline.

Initial reviews have been extremely positive. Among them, PC Gamer described it as "a fascinating hybrid of turn-based tactics and puzzle gameplay" and "more fun, strategically complex, and consistently rewarding" than "FTL."

It received a 9/10 score from GameSpot, while Eurogamer likened it to a delightful combination of elements from billiards, Whack-a-Mole, chess and American Football: "Precise and brutal and complex and dizzying and utterly thrilling."

That sort of high praise makes "Into the Breach" look likely to become one of 2018's essentials, alongside expansive major studio releases "Monster Hunter: World" and "Shadow of the Colossus."

Perhaps surprisingly, given that the four-year-old "FTL" launched on PC, Mac and Linux, with an iOS edition arriving afterwards, "Into the Breach" launches solely on Windows PC for now. Yet wider distribution surely beckons. Learning from its "FTL" experience, Subset elected to focus on a single-platform launch without ruling out re-releases further down the line.

"Into the Breach" (subsetgames.com/itb.html) is available from Steam, the Humble Store and GOG at a $14.99 USD launch price.

It is a finalist at March 21's 2018 Independent Games Festival Awards along with "Baba is You," "Getting Over It with Bennett Foddy," "Heat Signature," "Night in the Woods" and "West of Loathing."

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