GamingReview: Breathedge

Review: Breathedge

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It’s time to get lost in space! RedRuins Softworks throws you into a first-person survival sandbox title inspired by the Subnautica series. When transporting your deceased grandfather goes awry, it’s up to you to navigate the vast and lonely vacuum of space. With an immortal chicken and a saucy AI within your spacesuit at your side, you must scavenge resources and build better tools to yield further travel. Set in a first-person perspective with plenty of fourth wall-breaking jokes and narration, the overall tone and humor will make or break the player.

Let’s Start From The Beginning.

You enter the game being dragged into an interrogation by what appears to be robot gangsters asking you for the truth. You answer reluctantly and begin to recap what in the hell actually happened (or continue to spit at them and get beaten repeatedly). It’s not too long of an intro and there are some really good jokes to help hook you in. Occasionally you’ll jump back from the core gameplay to the interrogation room for occurrences such as dying in-game. They’ll say “You’re alive now, so that part was a lie. Please tell the truth!” before you reload your last save file. So it’s time to buckle up and relive the mess that you got yourself into.

Who are these space coffin mobsters? Better tell them your story and find out.

You have survived the aftermath of a huge space transportation vessel that has crashed in space. Many of the ship’s decks and stations have blown up and are separated by long distances. You must cover these areas and eventually reach the ship’s bridge in order to signal for help. It’s a little easier said than done, since you do not begin with the resources necessary to get you where you need to be. As you progress further into the depths of the final frontier, you’ll uncover more to the story and the conspiracies involved.

Inventory Control

Breathedge‘s main focus is to find resources such as metal, ice, and plastic to construct tools and better equipment to extend your exploration into the unforgiving depths of outer space. Oxygen and supplies are limited. Be sure to have a spare tank and some space food to fuel your suit and your body. There are a lot of things to do and tools and materials to craft at your workstation. While it may feel overwhelming at first, that’s essentially the nature of these games.

It’s hard to pass up collecting items when out in space. This inventory box, along with the floor of your vessel, will fill up very quickly.

Fortunately there is an abundance of resources used in the beginning of the game that are easily accessible outside of your pod. There is plenty of room for trial and error here. I never once felt like I was running out of water or batteries and couldn’t progress in the game. However, this abundance can result in a messy workspace. The inventory box is rather limited, but you can toss extra stuff on the floor if there is no room. After a while you’ll find other oxygen-safe areas with their own storage as well. Survival isn’t always pretty.

Space Is A Lonely Place

The atmosphere of being out of the comfort of your pod and into the void is so captivating. The soft piano music and the long travel distances of waypoints make you feel quite insignificant. As you run out of oxygen, the music will change key and increase in diminished tones. This is a nice reminder that you will die soon if you don’t head back. The sight and sound is clearly Breathedge‘s biggest strength.

The first few treks into the great beyond are truly awe-inspiring

However, since so much of your time is spent going back and forth from your pod to the reaches of space, you will fly past the same structures again and again. This can be a slog. It can take minutes at a time to get to some of the areas you will need to visit. And the rewards for a long trek can be underwhelming. Sometimes it’s all just for some new material for a better flashlight or something. The monotonous repetition will cause some players to lose interest after a while. You start to feel desensitized to the openness and ominous mood of space, especially when it’s being juxtaposed by the tsunami of color commentary.

Light-Hearted Dark Humor

Breathedge‘s main directional force is it’s comic delivery. It takes morbid concepts of isolation, death, and human excretion, and adds an optimistic tone soften the mood. It’s a clever juxtaposition, but I can’t help but feel like it’s thrown in your face a little too much. Your chicken companion can be used to kill live wires, plug oxygen leaks, and fix other hazards. The animations associated with said actions are quite silly, and maybe a tad juvenile. The AI is sarcastic and has a joke to say about literally everything you interact with. Does it have a built-in mute button? While I recognize the attempts to add color to the emptiness of space, I do feel the jokes are excessive. After some time, the humor loses its value.

A game objective is to construct a phallic object. It serves no real purpose to help you on your journey, but you can use it to kill yourself.

Bottom Line

I have a feeling that Breathedge will be a divisive title. For those who love Subnautica, and other survival sandbox titles, their experience could go either way. The change of scenery from the ocean to space will be a breath of fresh air for some. However, the atmosphere only has so much polish before being worn off when the same areas are being covered over again. Let’s not forget the oversaturated humor attempts. But for those who are less familiar with the genre, I honestly don’t see any difference in the overall experience either.

SUMMARY

+ great space atmosphere
+ abundance of interactable objects and items to craft
+ humorous take on dark subject matter
- travelling back and forth can feel repetitive
- humor overstays its welcome
- game feels boring once the charm wears off

(Reviewed on Steam. Also available on Nintendo Switch)
Wil Raterman
@ brgrboii: NYC dwelling rush-down zoner fighter. Lover of any and all things retro. Modern games with a pixelated paint job are also welcome here. Always equips grenades as part of the loadout. Currently playing Switch and Steam games.

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