Launching an indie game on Steam seems like a risky decision these days. With over 13,000 titles on that platform, it’s easy for the smaller games to get lost in the shuffle of larger releases. Despite that, indie developer Drama Drifters have brought us Breached, a small sci-fi game full of mystery and resource gathering, with a dash of strategic thinking thrown in on top.
It becomes apparent, as you start the game, that your character is being taken out of hibernation after a 4 year period of being asleep in space. You’re immediately notified that the facility you’re located in is lacking oxygen due to a broken generator, and you need a fresh supply of fuel if you hope to survive beyond the next 8 days. Luckily, there are resources nearby that you can dispatch a drone to fetch, and this is where Breached really begins.
You’ll spend most of your time piloting a drone in first person. Doing this only requires the use of a mouse, but the game also supports the use of keyboard or controllers. The drone itself is a little clunky and can’t move in reverse, but it’s still fun to zip around in, especially at higher speeds. You use the drone to hunt for capsules across four different dispatch zones, with each of those zones potentially containing parts for your oxygen generator, or you can look for resources to create more fuel.
Harvesting supplies with the drone is simple, and requires only that you sit still in front of the resource to collect it automatically. The drone is limited to only three empty slots though, so you have to make a choice when it comes to gathering supplies on each run. There are also floating orbs of light that the game calls ‘magnetic anomalies’ that can ruin the trip if you run into them. Once you’ve found three pieces of resources that you’re happy with, you fly back to a recall point to make your collection official.
Each day is made up of energy your character can spend. When it reaches zero, you have no choice but to end the day and move on to the next. It takes a set amount of energy to remotely pilot the drone to gather resources, hack open capsules for parts, and use resources to synthesize fuel. Dispatching the drone uses the same amount of energy regardless of how long it takes, but if you should fail by running into one of the orbs, you keep none of the resources you gathered and you lose the energy you spent.
Breached really boils down to a race against time. You’ve got just the 8 days worth of energy to repair the oxygen generator and correctly cook up some fuel, so hard decisions have to be made along the way regarding when and where you spend your energy. Luckily, the game gives you just enough information to make strategic choices. It tells you how likely you are to find the parts you need before hacking a capsule, and it tells you what kind of resources are available (and in what quantity) in each of the drone dispatch zones.
Having said that, the game could offer a bit more direction at times. I enjoyed the fact that you have to poke around to figure things out, but after two complete runs of the 8 day sessions, I still wasn’t entirely certain how the fuel system worked. The game is pretty short at about 90 minutes per each 8 day cycle, so it doesn’t take long to retry after failing, but it’s also a bit boring to play through the same zones over and over again to try and get it right.
The aesthetic and minimal story of Breached are both wonderful. It’s a good looking game when you’re flying around in the drone, and the menus where you manage resources are simple and work well. The journal entries you get at the beginning of each day are fun to read, and they really play into the cool and mysterious sci-fi elements at the foundation of the story. I also particularly enjoyed the distortion effect and ominous noises that would take over when I was getting close to one of those pesky orbs.
Breached is a fun little game that derives a good portion of its charm from its minimalist and mysterious story. The drone sections are fun, particularly in the beginning, and there’s just the right amount of strategy involved in the choices you make. It does get a little dull after the first playthrough, and you can theoretically beat the game in less than 90 minutes, but at £4.49/$6.29, it’s still a cheap little bite-sized game that’s likely worth your time.