Trap you in a vast field of space wrecks with nothing more than an immortal chicken for company, Breath is a survival-adventure game with an undeniably innovative configuration. Instead of drilling through trees, you’ll navigate a three-dimensional, gravity-free environment to collect supplies, craft tools, and avoid suffocation, all while attempting to uncover the winding plot behind the world’s largest ocean liner crash. of history – what happened with you on it. Despite the new setting, you’ll only get a taste of rudimentary survival gameplay before a scripted story takes over and drives you out of survival mechanics altogether. The feeling that another wonderful discovery is imminent is what drives these games … and Breathedge doesn’t have it.
Breathedge is desperate to please with its jokes, slapstick humor, and wacky concepts like corpse-powered coffin robots. He’s aware that this is a story-driven, single-player survival game that references tropes in the genre (as well as other sci-fi games like Alien: Isolation and Mass Effect), including gags on plot twists, artificially lengthened wait times, outdated gameplay, and salvage quests. Sadly, Breathedge is guilty of the things it jokes about, full of the more tedious, repetitive types of survival game clichés. Even when I was laughing, his awareness of these issues makes it a problem nonetheless, and humor is no substitute for innovative gameplay.
Breathedge’s main contribution to survival games is its movement, which is at least different enough to make the first routine novel. It was fun doing a microgravity ride at first, bouncing off objects and peering behind asteroids. It’s fun to collect floating resources out of the debris field around you. Many of the crumbling spaceships that make up its world and the environments it contains are quite well designed, with new things to be found often hidden nearby or placed in plain sight for a distance you don’t yet know how. to cross. The layout of the early survival zones is one of Breathedge’s greatest strengths, feeling both very purposefully designed and as if they could be real places. Which is good, because you tend to go back and forth through the same parts over and over again.
This is because everything you do is limited by your air supply, which you must constantly monitor. Your count clock will peak at just 10 or 15 minutes or so, and that’s if you devote a lot of inventory space to oxygen refills. In general, I had a lot less time than that to explore and gather before I needed to retreat to an air source … then tediously wait for my air supply to refill, which can take two minutes. Then I would set off again and do a few minutes of work (if I was lucky) to explore or gather resources before needing to refuel. The idea of limited air supply works much better in a game like Subnautica because when you run out of air all you have to do is swim straight for a quick break before getting back to the interesting things you were doing.
As well as tediously waiting for your air to fill up, you also have to wait for crafting to finish, which involves watching a bar slowly fill up without doing anything at all. You’ll also have to wait for the search to complete, which runs on a 15-minute or longer timer that stops no matter what you’re doing. Killing time like this is nonsense in a single player game without time constraints otherwise. This only lengthens Breathedge.
So most of your time is spent either waiting for a bar to fill up or collecting resources. In the real survival game, you collect resources to craft the things you need to go and collect more, different resources, all in order to build something else to advance the plot. Gathering resources is as easy as moving around to snag floating items or pulling out a new tool from your inventory (for some odd reason you only have four quickbar slots) to click on a static item with. Doing it all in zero gravity starts off as a novelty, but it never evolves in a way that keeps it interesting, and even lacks the satisfying sound or animation to go with it. No terrain warping, no automatic or upgraded collectors, no factories – no meaningful real base construction, in fact. It’s just a lot of clicks and hand crafting, delivering what is essentially the most basic and early gameplay of games like Subnautica, Empyrion or ARK without any of the much more effective and fun advancements that come later.
Breathedge PC Gameplay Screenshots
During this time, your oxygen has dropped and you will have to go back in to refill it. Oh, and your frustrating and fragile tools broke halfway. I often carried two copies of each tool as one wouldn’t last even the most basic expeditions. Why force me to recreate tools when a repair system would work so well? Why not offer improved versions with increased durability for more than one of the five common tools? These are issues that many survival games have already addressed, but Breathedge ignores them all.
Your reward for success here is doing the same thing again, and I felt punished for doing well. When you’re building a base, for example, making it bigger means you spend more time patching oxygen leaks with gum every time you get home. There’s no automation or efficiency upgrade to be found, nor advanced tools that change the way you play or give you new resources. Other than a few cosmetic items to build, there is hardly any progression. What you do in the first hour is what you will do for the next 15.
It’s the worst genre of survival gameplay, making all of the simpler mistakes of the games that came before it. For example, even if you get faster travel methods or gear to speed up exploration or reduce the burden on your air supply, environments get larger to match. A few extra seconds of increasing speed or a wacky space car doesn’t do much to alleviate the feeling that you’re not making significant progress every time you leave safety.
It’s quite different from most survival games, where exploration is a key factor that rewards the curious or the daring – exploring the wrong way around in Breathedge seems to end mostly with sadness, death, and a recharge if you do. can’t find a new source of oxygen. . Since automatic saving only occurs when entering and exiting stations, there is a lot of chance that you will lose significant progress if you forget to use the manual save option.
And when you have each upgrade and can finally explore on your own? Breathedge rejects the concept of oxygen entirely, as well as crafting and any unnecessary bases you’ve built, shifting entirely from the survival genre to something more like an adventure game. That’s right: the last 10 hours of the survival game which took me 25 hours in total is not a survival game at all. This is arguably a good thing, as Breathedge’s survival elements fail to shake things up beyond the basics, but what comes after is worse.
Instead of discovery, the second half relies entirely on plot to move you forward. However, this plot is straightforward and linear, and the first two chapters take place in the sandbox survival environment, with two to six main things to explore and build. As the story progresses, it shifts to other environments and becomes completely linear, with its sandbox elements disappearing entirely in favor of constrained areas that play like a 3D adventure and are laid out like an FPS starting out. from 2005. Or, maybe more accurately, a straight line walking simulator – except sometimes you have to go back to a crafting station because your tool is broken.
It’s a shame, because I wanted to like things on Breathedge. The whimsical but dark Soviet retrofuturism of its visual design has garnered a lot of love, and enjoying its spooky stations, propaganda murals, or fictional pop culture is one of the best parts. It’s an attempt at an outlandish Russian version of Fallout mixed with Subnautica in space. Sometimes the jokes land, like the many burlesque death poses you find other passengers in, the sci-fi parodies, or the silly designs of different components of ships and other parts of the world. Drive a vacuum cleaner like a rocket motor? Now that’s funny. You sting dangerous things with your family heirloom – an immortal chicken – to disarm them, and it’s hard not to take advantage of the absurdity of that.
But for every joke that hits, even more level ground. The AI in your spacesuit directs you while constantly joking, but it quickly becomes obnoxious and the writing of the joke is generally terrible. It speaks so fast that I could barely catch the jokes without reading the subtitles, and the ones I did were often like a stand-up comedian doing a rolling observation comedy routine, but delivered by the guy who reads the subtitles. legal terms as quickly as possible at the end of pharmaceutical advertisements. There are also some really weak attempts at irreverent and provocative humor, like taking dated hits at cross-dressing. I would say they might be funny to someone, but they’re actually just … bad jokes.
Adding insult to injury, if you die you’ll hear all of those same lines again next time. When this joke is a breathtaking fourth meta-commentary about game developers making it difficult or tedious to reduce overall playtime, it starts to feel less like a referential blunder and more like an obnoxious lack of awareness. self.