The Riftbreaker review (PS5)

The Riftbreaker from EXOR Studios has been on our radar for quite some time and we even previewed it about two years ago. Now, after four years in development, it’s finally been released, and is no longer a PC exclusive. We went hands on with the PlayStation 5 port of the game, which was announced long after we last went hands on with it.

The team at EXOR certainly likes a sci-fi premise, because after X-Morph: Defense dealt with an alien invasion we see something similar here in The Riftbreaker. You travel to a planet called Galatea 37 in order to colonize it, but are met with heavy resistance – triggering a race against time as you gather enough resources to keep up your bases and defenses while also pushing forward.

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If that sounds like the setup for a Real Time Strategy game to you, then you’d be right, but The Riftbreaker blends RTS with twin stick shooting mechanics. The latter ties into how you explore the game map and spread your colonization efforts as quickly as possible, dashing around the map and taking out enemies as you secure precious natural resources and then connect these to your base of operations – rather than gradually building out the latter like you would in a regular RTS game. The old “mouse pointer” that reveals the game/genre’s PC roots does return, though it’s only a factor in base building.

Although you can build defenses, guarding your bases is much more hands on here than in other RTS games, where you’d select a unit and point it at the enemy. Wearing your mech-like suit called Mr. Riggs, you can take a handful of weapons into battle and alternate between them when ammo runs low, or go the melee route when the situation demands it. There’s a great range of weapons and upgrades to choose from, some of which give you new abilities as well – like being able to dash out of the way.

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The way in which The Riftbreaker seamlessly blends genre is impressive, with genre staples like a research tree and taking care of the logistics behind your resources all accounted for despite a large role for combat. Having so many things to take care of at once does mean that things get stressful though, on a few levels. Because your base is so spread out across the map (often with several hubs around resource-rich areas), it can be hard to find what you’re looking for in a split second. And when the enemy attacks you receive fair warning, but at the same time you have a lot of ground to cover and when they break through they can make you suffer game-crushing losses that feel like they couldn’t have been avoided.

Despite those issues, however, The Riftbreaker succeeds as a genre-bending new game from EXOR, and based on the Steam release we’re fairly sure we’ll see some point-launch updates to improve some of its launch issues as well, so definitely keep an eye on this one. It looks gorgeous for a top-down game too, and the screenshots don’t do it justice. Vibrant colors and tons of lighting and visual effects bring Galatea 37 to life, and we’re happy to be spending time there.

Score: 7.5/10

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