It's been a while since the creators of the well known FTL have done anything besides upgrading the original with more content. I must admit. I have played FTL to Hell and back, yet Subset Games didn't ring a bell when Into the Breach was announced. That's probably what the crew at Subset Games feared since they decided to give away a free copy of FTL for every purchase of Into The Breach for a limited time.
Speaking of time, Into the Breach carries the time-traveling theme. Although time traveling is only a minor aspect of the game, it serves to explain the roguelike elements way better than FTL, which didn't explain them at all.
In any case, Into the Breach has you controlling three giant mechanized war machines in turn-based tactical combat against an invading species of large underground swarming insects called The Vek. Nothing new here. Visually, the game's pixel art is done masterfully and makes everything look as cutesy and plushy as mechas and oversized bugs can get. What's happening though is not as cute, but it's bloody fun! Each randomly generated theater of operations forces you to last for several turns while also completing as many bonus objectives as you can, without compromising the defense. Progressing in this game means protecting The Grid.
The Grid represents the civilian buildings that appear in every encounter. These are housing the human population you are trying to protect and are also providing your mechs with the enormous amount of power that they need to remain operational. When The Grid goes down to zero, the mechs are useless, the Vek swarm becomes unstoppable, and you lose the game. The enemy seems to know this since most bugs care to smash buildings slightly more often than your units. The good part is that your pilots can sense their intentions before they act and, through skillful maneuvers on your part, can divert their attacks.
Many weapon attacks also throw enemies around, which If I were to imagine would look much like the scenes in Pacific Rim. You want to push and shove to make them attack thin air before they realize what happened. This translates into a very strict turn mechanic. While your mechs work in the classic turn-based fashion, where shooting prevents further movement, the enemies on on the other hand attack first and then move, This structure is further 'enhanced' by an enemy spawning step and other scenario-based steps, such as flooding, violent storms, shifting elements, etcetera.
The tactical challenges can be approached in many ways but are also very difficult to overcome with flying colors except maybe when you're playing on Easy difficulty, which is a walk in the park compared to Normal. But what goes on between these challenges is what turns Into the Breach from a purely tactical game into a strategic struggle through various theaters of operations. After you succeed at preventing one of the four islands from being overrun, you get to purchase new weapons and items. You desperately need new hardware to overcome the ever-increasing power of the enemy. Pilots also gain skills after turning enough bugs into mush, and everything combines to create unique experiences every time. If the Grid hits zero or if all your pilots die during a single mission, you will have failed humanity.
However, here's where time traveling comes in hard. You may save one of your remaining pilots by throwing him back in time to help the defense of Earth anew. Luckily, you don't get to see everything happening in the same way, as that would be boring. Even though you'll always be fighting on the same four islands/biomes, the maps, objectives, and enemy composition will be randomized. Moreover, depending on your achievements, you can unlock new mech squads. The unlockable mechs work very differently than your basic starting trio, but they still fit in the same four classes: Prime (melee), Brute (tanks), Ranged (artillery), and Science (support). Once you've unlocked your first trio of mechs, you can begin customizing the squad, using mechs in any combination, including two or three of the same model.
In essence, this makes Into the Breach both a strategic and tactical roguelike. Finishing the game on a first try is highly improbable. Primarily because you play on ironman mode by default, and you aren't allowed to start more than one game at a time. Brutal! Combine this with Normal difficulty or above and you get a tough nut to crack. But failure is seldom as rewarding as in Into the Breach.
Into the Breach is unquestionably one of those games where you can't help but go through one more turn before going to bed. As a warning, don't play this during exam season (unless you're on gender studies or some other useless courses). Otherwise, GET THIS GAME!