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Breachway is the result of FTL and Slay the Spire loving each other very much

One of the most polished demos from Steam Next Fest
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It feels like so many indies incorporate roguelike deck-building elements into their feature arsenal these days that it’s difficult not to get a little bit tired of hearing “inspired by Slay the Spire.” It’d be a mistake to completely disregard that breed of game entirely, though, because then you’d miss the absolute blast that is Breachway – yes, a game that is very much “inspired by Slay the Spire” and that throws a good deal of FTL in there as well. That’s an intriguing combination in itself, but publisher Hooded Horse being attached to the project makes it even more interesting – they don’t miss when it comes to fun strategy indies.

So, Breachway. It’s a roguelike deck-building game set in a sci-fi universe and has you steer a ship through many dangers as you transport mysterious and important data through the stars. You travel from system to system, encountering enemies, frenemies, events, and other things that will make your run easier or more difficult, depending on your resources, decisions, and relations. Which brings us to one of the more interesting innovations the game offers: faction relations.

Breachway screenshot.

Breachway offers slick deck-building ship-on-ship action.

Depending on the decisions you make, you’ll be able to cozy up to some of the galactic powers that are while angering others, which can greatly change the course of a run. Strong relations with a faction mean better and more powerful rewards, while factions you oppose will bring stronger resources to bear against you.

Like in many other games of this genre, your deck grows over time as you pick up more cards after defeating enemies in combat. What’s cool about Breachway is that these cards depend on the kind of equipment your ship has on board. Like in FTL, you can pick up different modules to add to your ship, which in turn provide different sets of cards and synergies. For example, an improvised drilling laser will give you different attack options than a military-grade beam. You can also procure upgrades for these systems, adding some extra capabilities.

Breachway screenshot.

Ships can be heavily modified, altering the cards you have access to.

Staying with the FTL similarities for a bit, Breachway also features crew members that you can assign to different sections of the ship, where they will provide special abilities for you to use. A morale resource is needed to activate these, which can be gained by making certain decisions in events – a nice extra consideration to keep in mind. You can also change the amount of power each of your ship’s systems gets from the reactor, essentially manipulating how much mana you get for certain card types each turn. This gives you a lot more control than usual for the genre, opening up new strategies, and it feels thematically appropriate. But wait, there’s more! Some weapons can target specific subsystems, allowing you to disable weapons, shields, or sensors to block enemy actions.

Mechanically all of that comes together well, creating the severe case of “oh, just one more run and I’ll be done for the day, I swear” that we know and love from this genre. What sets Breachway apart is how the coherent and well-executed artstyle adds to the experience, giving it this very polished and high-quality feeling on top of the A+ gameplay. The fundamentals of this one are very strong.

You can play the Breachway demo during Steam Next Fest or wait for the game’s Early Access release on March 22, 2024, via Steam.