Netflix’s push into gaming might not be off to a roaring success, but it appears to be slowly building out its game library. I’ve just the latest game to join its ranks, and that I think it's an absolute must-play on both iOS and Android.
The game in question is Into the Breach. Released back in February 2018 on the PC, this turn-based strategy game meets roguelike (where elements of the game are randomly generated each time) spread onto the other platforms like the Nintendo Switch, iOS and Android. Then in July this year it was added to the Netflix gaming roster, meaning Netflix subscribers like myself could download and play it on both Android phones, iPhones and iPads for no additional cost.
I did exactly that, and I’m hooked.
Life's a breach
Into the Breach is made by Subset Games, who also developed FTL: Faster Than Light, another roguelike game based on managing a spaceship as it runs from enemy forces to the safety of a friendly fleet; it’s one of my favorite games and is awesome on my iPad mini. So setting aside the rave reviews, I had high hopes for Into the Breach.
Thankfully, simply searching the game in the App Store or Google Play Store will bring it up, flagging the Netflix version. A quick download later, and a login to Netflix on some devices, and I was in.
Into the Breach immediately grabbed me with its menu music composed by the simply brilliant Ben Prunty. A brief low-fi pixel art-style intro explains that the Vek, a race of giant insect like monsters, have pretty much destroyed humanity, and to reverse that a team of mechs needs to go back in time and beat them before the cataclysm happens. It’s as if Edge of Tomorrow was crossed with the likes of Pacific Rim.
As for the game’s action, it’s all turn-based meaning there’s no great pressure to rush through strategic decisions. But there’s definitely pressure to make the right moves. The brief tutorial explains that players are given a trio of mechs to be used to defend certain objectives and slow a seemingly unstoppable onslaught of Vek for a number of turns before the objective is complete or the monsters retreat… for now.
This seems straightforward. But like a game of chess, Into the Breach is less about ridding a board of enemies and more outmaneuvering rivals and choosing to sacrifice a unit in order to complete an objective.
What’s interesting here is that players are told what each Vek monster’s next move is, be it an attack on a mech or hitting a civilian structure. That presents the challenge of weighing up if one of your units can weather a hit and still have enough hit points to survive the mission, or if you can withstand the hit to your power grid, which goes down with each attack on civilian power-generating buildings and is game over if it hits zero.
There are times when you have to make the tricky decision of damaging or even killing one of your own units to take out a swarm of Vek, winning you the mission but potentially losing an experienced pilot. If this happens a pilot will be replaced but won’t be the seasoned veteran you had before.
All this makes for a game that you think you’re going to dip into for a quick bout, but can utterly absorb you. I found with with FTL, so was ready for the “just one more go” nature of Into the Breach.
Unlike FTL, which is only available on the iPad for mobile gamers, Into the Breach works rather well access a mix of smartphones. It’s very easy to use on my iPhone 13 Pro, despite my worry that it may feel a little cramped, and it plays rather nicely on my Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3. But if you can, I’d suggest giving it a spin on something like and iPad mini, which offers a nice balance of screen space and portable form factor,
Regardless of what mobile device you play Into the Breach on, I compel you to give it a go. It won’t cost you anything if you’ve got a Netflix subscription, and it’s a great way to get more out of the service than just waiting for the next episode of Better Call Saul or another season of Stranger Things.
And I really hope Netflix adds more stellar indie games to its service, say the excellent Bastion, as while people might not be flocking to Netflix’s game library just yet, I still think there’s a lot of potential here.