Breathedge, which made some serious waves during its Early Access phase, recently launched into its 1.0 version. Developed by RedRuins Softworks and co-published by HypeTrain Digital, we couldn’t resist taking a look at what all the fuss was about.
During Early Access, Breathedge was mostly a sandbox-like survival experience that took place in outer space. Many have compared it to the deep sea adventures of Subnautica for that reason, but the final game is actually more narrative and objective-driven than what you might expect based on that description – for better and for worse.
The setting’s also quite different, as where Subnautica focuses on danger and atmosphere, Breathedge doesn’t take itself too seriously, and you’d be surprised at the uses they’ve found for chickens in outer space. Comedy’s definitely a driving force for the game, and when it’s not being delivered through chickens it’s your AI companion delivering the banter. There’s a serious plot about an intergalactic conspiracy that you unwillingly get caught up in, but this is far from a thriller and much more like Roger Wilco’s classic adventures.
At first, the game is all about survival, as you literally are trapped in a doomed deep space shuttle that’s in desperate need of your help in order to get to its destination without killing its passenger – you. This will require space walks, crafting, blueprints, item gathering and more crafting, but as you juggle a dozen things at once the feeling when you get to your destination is one of “job well done” – although that’s where things change again, and the aforementioned sandbox comes into play.
While very involved with all of its options to build out and improve your base of operations, I would have appreciated a bit more handholding in terms of the game’s many mechanics and I could see newcomers to the genre being completely overwhelmed. As a result, this is a game that gets better on subsequent playthroughs where you’ve already figured out the mechanics, but when you’re playing the story campaign it’s a lot harder to just dive back in.
As you progress past the core base building elements of the game in the story, the narrative becomes more and more linear in nature. There’s still crafting and inventory management, but it feels far less “sandboxy” and survival-like – turning into a type of gameplay we’ve seen done better elsewhere. It’s entertaining because of the comedy-rich writing, but it’s not as engaging as the first two thirds of the game were.
Ultimately, the game’s campaign may offer more narrative fun to players, but the best parts in Breathedge in terms of gameplay are found in the sandbox parts. Luckily, your playthrough ends with the ability to go back to that which you’ve built before, and a second game mode even takes out everything but the sandbox altogether. Breathedge is good, but if the sandbox experience was more streamlined/guided and the latter parts of the campaign were more ‘sandboxy”, it could have been better.