Breach & Clear

A Review

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Subtlety be damned

This is probably the first time in my life that I’ve found a game that I wanted very hard to like, to truly enjoy and to find something to praise about. Yet Breach & Clear kept giving me reasons to feel grumpy, and there even became things that truly took away from the game so much that it became a drag to keep playing it to get a proper feel of its entirety. It's one of those games where you don't want to hate it but it keeps giving you reasons to do so.

Breach & Clear is a turn based game that, unlike some of the more popular forms of the genre, sets itself in a modern setting, with real life military organizations working around the globe in order to stop terrorist threats. It's very simplistic and it has a decent enough base for some interesting gameplay, especially considering that the game started out on mobile platforms. Breach & Clear tries to fiddle and play with the old tactics that we're all well accustomed to in the genre of turn based strategy.

You would figure that a mobile game moving onto PC would actually improve on its graphics and some of its core gameplay to better fit the new platform, and perhaps even have a new set of gameplay to work better for the more demanding PC market; however this is not the case. It feels like a very quick port to grab a bigger market share, and while the passion for the idea of the game is hidden through the cracks on the design, it's just not enough for you to overlook the glaring errors of the game.

I'll try to make this short and to the point, as this game gives very little to talk about, and what little I WILL be able to talk about won't be pretty. Let's dive straight into this mess, it'll be easier that way, trust me.

Fixing what was never broken

Breach & Clear takes a different approach to the usual gameplay of a normal turn based combat game. Games like Final Fantasy Tactics and Xcom handle turn based combat by letting you move all of your characters individually during a turn and allowing them to perform their actions, and then it doing the same for the other team.

A simple, some might even say genius design. Breach & Clear fiddles with this mechanic, however.

In Breach & Clear, the gameplay relies on you "planning" your team's movements in phases, in other words, you plan out what your people will do, such as where they'll move, where they keep their sights and whether they'll use any items or abilities, then you press the "breach" button and your team, as well as your enemies, will perform their actions simultaneously. In other words, rather than let your troops move one at a time, Breach & Clear makes you choose their movement patterns/actions so that they do them all at once.


Like any game that tries to be realistic, there are very few, if any, indicators of just what the crap is going on

You get 4 squad members with 6 different class choices:

  • Fire team Leader
  • Weapons Sergeant
  • Breacher
  • Direct Action
  • Medic
  • Intelligence
These all get different bonuses and abilities; however they are seldom activated once every 10 or even 15 maps, and quite frankly they make little to no difference when on the field, as stages can be cleared in their entirety in less than 10 seconds. I am not joking; every "situation" the game throws you in is ridiculously short. You could say that this is supposed to be this way due to the nature of Breach & Clear, but the fact of the matter remains that it makes for way too quick and uninteresting gameplay.

The game tries to take advantage of this at all times, and even presents you with "real time" threats that could occur that you will not see while on the preparation phase, such as terrorists incoming from other rooms or reinforcements trying to flank you.

There are also 3 different game-modes, separated in 7 different locations, which can consist of up to 5 maps each. These never change by game mode or even by difficulty. They are the exact same map sets every single time, with only enemy positions varying once in a blue moon.

The 3 game modes are:

  • Terrorist Hunt: Like the name implies, you go in, you hunt the terrorists down, you win
  • Bomb defusal: Go in, find the bomb, defuse it as quickly as possible. This mode is timed
  • Escape plan: Your team is thrown in random positions inside the map and you must escape, regrouping them and forcing your way through whatever terrorists there are in the map currently
These game modes, while very different description wise, feel largely the same when you are actually on the battlegrounds. There's also a problem that stems from this game's primary "feature", which is the phase system and the fact that all actions occur at once on the screen

You get little to no feedback for your actions. You do not know what you did "right" or what you did "wrong", not particularly at least. The action happens so quickly and in such a messy way that, apart from realizing your squad mate has lost half of its health or that you've lost a soldier to enemy gunfire, you don't really know what went wrong.


Great example here: This is an incapacitated enemy, but you get no audio or visual queue other than him sitting down, catching his breath, making it difficult to tell if you even did your job right

This became puzzling to me, especially when I started experimenting with Breach & Clear's customization options.

The game allows you to change up your squad's get up both armor wise and gun-wise, even allowing you to do changes such as painting your soldier's guns and modifying the patterns of their clothing (both very limited, but nonetheless still there as customization options). All of these options have some change on your soldier's statistics. Higher fire rates, higher accuracy, higher armor, etc. And it also adds up to the abilities of your soldier, which increase as they level up with the experience gained from finishing a stage, whether it's by winning or not.

Sadly, however, these changes barely feel like they do anything at all to improve or even detract from your soldier's experience on the field. After a few rounds on Terrorist hunt and finding that my strategy, which consisted solely on keeping everyone together, was working without a hitch every single time, I decided to "cripple" myself.

I sent my soldiers in with only the default weapons and no armor, also taking my sweet time to make them as gaudy and ridiculous looking as possible, setting the game on hard difficulty rather than low. Not only did I still win the mission, I got a commendation from the game because none of my soldiers died and I killed 4 enemies in one phase.


Truly, they are the most badass squad in existance

These customization options "exist", and they do indeed give you numbers and data that you could "technically" say makes your character better or worse, but the game largely ignores these and just works on your tactics, which sadly can easily beat every single thing the game throws at you by simply keeping all your men tightly close to one another.

Those are already condemning statements on their own, but we haven't touched up on some of the other things that could still make this game interesting for some people, particularly the graphics and even the settings that it sends you towards; after all, there is a severe lack of turn based shooters out there that try to focus on a more modern setting, so why can't the story or even it's art direction save this game from the repetitive gameplay?

How does the game look?

As mentioned earlier, this game has its roots in the mobile platforms that we all know and hate/love, and this is noticeable in the game's current graphic look in general. By all means, there are far worse looking games out there, and this is not a bad effort for a mobile game. The problem stems from the fact this is NOT a mobile game anymore, but a full-fledged PC game, and while I don't think an indie developer should be held up to the standards of higher grade developers, it should still be held to some standards, such as having clothing options that do not clip through your character's head or making it so that enemies do not look like they've dislocated their shoulders when they fall on the ground dead.

The map direction, however, is very interesting. While the layouts do not change too much from one map to another, you can see that they've paid a lot of attention to trying to re-create the locations that they're actually setting you into. The locations, which include areas such as Afghanistan, China and Germany, do feel very different from one another in the sense that they all look different, both in the color scheme and even in the general cultural feel, and this is something that I'd very much like to praise the developers for. For all the faults that this game has, they paid close attention to the environment's design, which can be one of the more interesting parts of a game, especially one that focuses so heavily on taking cover and analyzing the environment for strategic purposes.


Very few maps, like this boat off the coast of China, actually manage to feel unique

Sadly, it also brings out the fact that while they are well designed in their cosmetics, they are all made with the same basic layouts. You have one or two entrances, key pieces of cover and your enemies are just thrown randomly all over the area, sometimes not taking cover at all. Cosmetically these stages feel great, but gameplay wise they feel very dull.

The character customization is also one of the main parts where you notice the game's modern art direction, and it's also sadly where you notice this game's clear lack of polishment. Characters look lifeless when inspected closely, with 1,000 yard stares and dull expressions that seem to just barely fit the description of a human being rather than anything else. Textures look very bland and many little details, such as your character's hair or clothes, feel very off and stiff. I wanted to create a character with a beard, but I quickly detracted from it after seeing the horrible graphic work on it, which looked more like my character had shaved his head and duck taped the hair all over his chin (I wish I could describe it in a way that didn't sound so mean to the artist of this game, but it's the only fitting description I can come up with).


Clipping is all over. Despite multiple patches, these issues will STILL pop up

The weapons are extensive in number, yet most of them are based on the same weapon systems (M16 and SCAR, respectively) meaning that apart from some differing hand guards and the exceptions to this rule, which are the few shotguns and/or LMG's in the game, they all largely look and feel the same. You are given some customization options for their stats and looks however, primarily in the form of attachments such as sights, silencers, new trigger and gas systems, etc. Stats wise these barely change much of anything in the game itself, as I was able to run the game on the hardest difficulty with the default weaponry just fine, but they do give the game that small amount of customization that it desperately needs.

You can also "paint" your weapons, as well as their attachments, as shown in one of the earlier screenshots. This is an option which could work very well towards customizing your characters, as you could put designs on your guns, customize the different parts to look nice... Sadly it devolves to a very shoddily placed overlay on the entirety of your weapon, which ends up making it look like a cheap Chinese airsoft knock off than the actual weapon it's supposed to be.


Recolors, anyone?

In between all of this we have the glaring clipping issues in the game, which despite the latest patch that claimed to fix a lot of the games issues still persists. Several items in the in-game store clip through your characters body or just downright look bad compared to the rest. Some of the vests and armor seem to sink into your character rather than properly stay on them and protect them. Clothes seem to be glued onto them rather than actually fitted properly to them.

When I really think about it too, you can find better graphics than this on mobile platforms already. Angry Birds go, as much as I dislike mentioning that game series, has excellent graphics for a simple mobile game. So does Shadowrun, a game that is on the exact genre as Breach & Clear (And does much of these things better).

So... I take it you wouldn't recommend this game.

No. No I wouldn't.

Breach & Clear is an admirable effort from a set of people that you can tell, despite the fact that the quality of their product is severely lacking, gave it an honest to god try at making a good game, and some of their ideas and efforts were well placed, trying to inject some much needed variety into a genre that hasn't had much variety in a very long time. Yet it's undeniable that the game, overall, just isn't worth it's 15 dollars asking price right now on steam.

If you're really desperate for a modern setting turn based combat game, please try out ARMA Tactics. Stay away from this game, as this developer has great ideas, but they need to be worked up from the bottom up again before they gain your attention.

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Score

Graphics
3
Gameplay
4
Sound and Atmosphere
5.5
Overall
4.2

Pros & Cons

Pros
  • An interesting take on the Turn Based Combat genre
  • Not many other games of this genre take on the Modern Warfare look
Cons
  • Terrible customization options
  • Horribly repetitive
  • Barely any semblance of a story or connecting device between missions

Reviewer

J. Parra avatar
J. Parra Offline
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