Over the next few days, we will reveal what we believe are the 10 best games of 2018, organized by release date. Then, on December 19, we will reveal which of the nominees gets to take home the coveted title of GameSpot’s Game of the Year. So be sure to come back then for the big announcement, and in the meantime, follow along with all of our other end-of-the-year coverage collected in our Best of 2018 hub.
We ruined our planet. The remains of human civilization now reside on four islands run by mega-corporations, and now those islands are being overrun with enormous insects–the Vek. You’re a small, time-and-reality-traveling squad of mech pilots, and it’s up to you to do your best to save this timeline from destruction. The odds are overwhelming, there’s only so much you can do, and sacrifices will need to be made. You’re going to try your best, and if you fail, well, there are always other parallel universes to save.
Into The Breach is focused. It is an exceptional distillation of turn-based tactical strategy. The compact, chessboard-sized 8×8 maps mean that confrontations and problems arise immediately. The short missions means there’s a constant urgency. The clear transparency of its systems shows you absolutely everything that is going to happen in the next turn–what enemies are targeting, how much damage they will deal, and any effects that will occur. It’s a game that tells you everything you need to know, keeps randomness to a minimum, and never wastes your time.
Into The Breach is creative. It’s a game where your level of success is determined by how well you can use your abilities to manipulate your enemies and the environment. It’s not about how many Vek you can kill, but how effectively you can mitigate damage. Your mech might have a pithy cannon that only deals a small amount of damage to a Vek. But that cannon might also have a push effect, meaning your shot can knock aliens into a bottomless pit, slam them into the side of a mountain, or best of all, move them into the path of another Vek’s attack. Think outside the box, and that pithy cannon becomes a surgical tool.
Into The Breach is meaningful. There is always a threat to counter, and every single turn is a series of tough calculations about how you can make a single action have the greatest effect. You could use a mech to deal some damage to an enemy, or you could instead use it to physically block an emerging one from entering the map. You’ll be able to stop the overwhelming forces from becoming even more overwhelming next turn, but can that mech afford the damage it will receive from acting as a weight? When you don’t have the resources to save everything at risk, what can you afford to lose? You might decide to sacrifice a civilian building and take one step closer to total failure, let an optional objective be destroyed and deny yourself a coveted reward, or even sacrifice one of your own mechs, killing the pilot, but making sure everything else survives. Every decision matters.
Into The Breach has variety. Once you begin to unlock more squads–equating to 27 different mechs with distinct abilities–you start to see the battlefield in completely different ways. You’ll learn to use the Blitzkrieg crew to set up chain reactions that might allow you to damage 10 tiles at once. You’ll use the Rusting Hulks crew to blanket the map in a debilitating electric smoke that inhibits anyone from attacking. The Ice Mech, whose only ability is to freeze itself and another tile at the same time, is initially inexplicable. But when things click, it becomes the ultimate defensive tool, helping you to complete stages without hurting anyone at all.
Into The Breach is a masterpiece. Every single turn is a unique, satisfying mental conundrum of roundabout thinking, prioritizing compromises, and maximizing your capabilities. Every single battle is a wonderfully choreographed ballet, a kinetic push and pull of units, a whirlwind of attack reversals and near misses. The world building from writer Chris Avellone is evocative, the soundtrack from composer Ben Prunty is haunting, and the cohesive design from developers Justin Ma and Matthew Davis is exceptional. Into The Breach is a compulsively replayable tactical gem, whose sharp focus makes every moment feel pivotal. It is one of the best games of 2018.