Fri. Jul 19th, 2024

[Review] Breathedge – Nintendo Switch

  • Developer: RedRuins Softworks
  • Publisher: Hypetrain Digital
  • Genre: Adventure, Simulation, Action, Role-Playing, Survival
  • Released: 6th April 2021

In space no one can hear you scream… with canned laughter.

Swim in space.

Breathedge is, as advertised, an ironic space survival adventure. It has been compared to Subnautica, except instead of exploring the depths of an ocean, you’re stuck in the vacuum void of outer space. Also of note is the tone of the game. Typically games within the survival genre will have some form of apprehension even horror as you plumb the depths of the unknown to fulfill whatever your mission happens to be at the time. Breathedge takes a breather from the usual fare in this case and introduces a healthy dose of sarcastic dark humour. It might not be to everyone’s taste, of course; but I liked this direction taken by the developers.

Better dead then never…

Fowl Play

Breathedge puts you into the role of a man who is accompanying his deceased grandfather in an interstellar journey to a galactic funerary home. Along the journey, there is an almighty quake and the massive vessel you’re in ruptures and send everything hurling into the void as you clutch on for dear life before blacking out moments later. You wake up to find yourself trapped in an airlock with a leaking pipe. Thus starts your bizarre journey into finding out what in the galaxy happened to you.

If the opening cinematic sequence hasn’t convinced you of the title’s attempts at a comedic take on the survival genre, then the opening tutorial where it’s possible to stuff an immortal chicken into a broken pipe might push you in that general direction. I will have to state again that your mileage with the game’s humour and jokes will vary. Personally, I found Breathedge to be a mixed bag in this department: some jokes were crude, some made me smile and a few made me do the old roflcopter.

The game’s also quite self aware, though it doesn’t help gross humour much.

Eat pray breathe.

The gameplay flows through a particular loop that sees the player head out of their oxygen shelter to hunt and scavenge for parts, then returning before their oxygen level runs out to craft useful items while at base. It’s quite the tried and tested formula that does sinks its hooks into you if you allow it to. The tension at leaving for a slightly farther area to scavenge for new materials does get the blood pumping.

Unlike most games in the survival niche, Breathedge doesn’t have hidden monsters hunting you or any overt antagonist that you will have to fend off. Indeed, the major foe players will face will be their ineptitude at conserving their oxygen. I actually found this a refreshing change as the stress at trying to balance out other survival meters often takes a toll on my sanity and I really don’t need the added burden of trying not to die from demons or beasts.

This warning will become a very familiar sight.

In a galaxy far far away…

Another aspect of the game that differs from a lot of its compatriots would be that the games seems to not be a roguelike. That is to say, if there is any randomization in the game at all, it might be on the scattered resources that litter wreckage areas… maybe. I honestly haven’t seen any signs of it.

While for some this might bring the title down a notch due to its perceived reduction in replay value, it does allow the game to have a stronger narrative pull instead. Areas become iconic landmarks with their little stories as you putter your way through Brethedge’s little slice of space. You won’t forget finding some of the more weirder ruins that’s for sure. Another potential advantage this confers would be that you’re less likely to get lost, though that isn’t a guarantee in some of the more clustered areas.

Fatality indeed…

The trade-off paid well I feel, as the little stories you gather weave into the greater mystery of what caused the crash in the first place. You get to see the last moments of a lot of other passengers, a large chunk of them darkly funny if quite graphic. Additionally, you’re accompanied with an AI in your suit as well as an enigmatic chat companion and both help to pull you deeper into finding out more about the crash. That said, the AI can get a little grating at times, especially with jokes that sometimes miss their landing and end up making their own little crashes.

Houston, we’ve had a problem.

Speaking of crashes, well not so much actually crashing but something to note. The game autosaves everytime you reach base. You can also save manually, but be warned, there seems to be a bug regarding loading files. I found that upon loading, my oxygen values will be capped at the base value before any upgrades. So say I save while I’m outside at levels of 90, upon loading I’ll find that it becomes 70 instead. This can be quite frustrating if you don’t happen to have spare oxygen supplies on you and you’re stuck in the middle of nowhere. Fortunately this can be circumvented by just saving at bases only, but it is unfortunate that such an error exist. I believe I will enjoy this game more if they patch this issue out, but it’s something I can deal with right now.

Contact light.

While this title may have taken a bit of a beating during the porting process (like most Switch ports, unfortunately), it nevertheless retains a strong art direction and at times can look very pretty. Beautiful even. Well, good enough for a couple of shots, eh?

Sometimes the scene aligns just right and the chaos becomes quite artsy.
The eeriness of the wreckage makes for quite a sight at times.
Playing the game just makes one just wanna chill out in space. Best done in the free roaming mode.

Music is quite sparse in this game, having been mostly relegated to your safe spaces in form of a radio. This is by no means bad as the quiet ambience that accompanies you as you float about in space does give one the sense of being alone as they explore the vast carnage of the accident that left you, well… alone. Also, there is one piece of music that is an absolute banger amongst the station choices available on the radio, so much so it’s become the game’s theme music for me.

Event horizon.

While most games in this genre aren’t my usual cups of tea, this one hit quite a sweet spot with myself. With the ability to choose to how difficult you want the game to be, as well as a sandbox option (with the trade off being the removal of all story elements), this title caters to both veterans of the survival genre and to those new or not very good at it.

Apart from a major loading period the first time you load a game or start a new one and slightly blurry visuals, I’ve not really much beef with this game. It’s definitely something I can recommend for anyone, although as I mentioned: the game’s sense of humour may or may not gel well with everyone.

4/5 – or 3.5 if the humour doesn’t stick. Still a fun survival game.

Available now: $24.99

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*a review copy has been generously provided for this review

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