Breathedge – Review

Breathedge – Review

From the makers of the Matrix… no news yet, but I am in possession of an immortal chicken.

No it’s not a euphemism for something rude, these things do go together. They are a glimpse of the kind of knowing humour on offer in Breathedge. It catches you off guard as you watch the opening cinematic of you being dragged towards an interrogation by some robots made from coffins….you’ll find out later.

Somebody Cut My Cable

A few days after I was given this to review someone cut my internet cable and I had to go somewhere else to download, update (trying not to forget my external drive) and shift everything onto my laptop just to get the game open to run. I was starting to feel like I was in ‘The Game’ and that this was some sort of meta pre-level of scavenging to prove I was worthy of playing Breathedge.

Having crafted together the ability to play the game I did not dare switch it off in case I couldn’t get back and my guy was lost in space to die.

…and I still have no idea why I am in possession of an immortal chicken.

Breathedge is a space survival sandbox game where you are constantly seeking out materials from the wreckage of the space ship you crashed in, to survive and improve your situation. It inevitably involves crafting essential equipment and tools to allow you to progress and in this sense it is rather linear and fairly standard, especially in the early levels. You are given a set of tasks to complete largely in a pre-designed order and you are prevented (by distance and no knowledge of location) from accessing other areas until crafting progression allows.

This is in ‘standard’ mode which is the story mode. Here there really isn’t much of the base building that you might expect in a sandbox crafter, rather you use discovered bases. Breathedge does offer a variety of play options which level story and freedom against permadeath, unlocked achievements and base building.

Downright Beautiful

Breathedge is, graphically, a downright beautiful game right from the get go. The premise is that you have survived an explosion of the largest spaceship in human history, which it transpires was a funerary ship (appropriate). You are on it delivering your fathers’ coffin when the explosion occurs and now you must survive.

Progress, like any sandbox crafter, is slow and contained at first, but opens up at a decent rate once you get past the first chapter. Your problems scale with progress as you move from simply surviving and getting home to uncovering and becoming embroiled in far bigger machinations as the game switches from a crafting exploration game to a more liner adventure game in its final few sections.

A common frustration of sandbox crafters is obtaining enough of the right resources. In Breathedge common sense developers have prevailed and resources divide into two categories.

Firstly the basics to survive, ice, various nutritional elements for crafting into food and various metal and chemicals for tools. These basics are in plentiful supply and often floating around freely…you won’t run out.

Secondly the other stuff, materials for crafting into bigger items (once you have discovered blueprints), plastic, copper wiring, rubber, paint, etc.

These things are found next to or attached to items of space debris. So there is some clarity about where to look for stuff you need and the in-game encyclopaedia offers visual clues on where to find them. This clarity means progression is always possible and never too far away.

About Time… Wasting

There are some gripes about unnecessary time wasting that falsely lengthens game time for no purpose and it is all over the place. Journey time is one particular complaint, it takes a long time to travel anywhere initially and repeatedly having to return to your base to refill oxygen on top of that is annoying. Planning and crafting to bridge what, early in the game, seems a vast distance and discover a new base takes a long time.

Once you get there and realise you need to return to transfer your phat stack of collected resources, over several journeys it is most definitely annoying. I mean having unlocked or completed an area, what is the point in making me travel 4 minutes back to my original base just to collect some resources

This is space and the future, (albeit a 1950s Soviet stylised one) so why, once I have securely moved on in the game or discovered more bases, can I not activate a fast travel system?

This needless wasting of time is present all over the place; you see it in the actual crafting, where every object created needs a 5 second wait for it to be built. If you are making several components that’s a wait of a couple of minutes for no reason at all.

Health & Beauty

Health is another example, it is restored by sleep, but you literally have to wait staring at a screen doing nothing but watch a spinning sand timer for a minute in order to recover your health. It serves no purpose except to waste time, at least until you get the medical box blueprint to craft instant healing.

It is for this reason that some major reviewers have been unkind to Breathedge, but I think they’ve got it wrong. You see any complaint about this artificial and imposed pointless game lengthening (which I think is a valid complaint) is dispelled shortly after completing chapter one.

Very quickly after this point you discover a second base and rapidly open up triple the length of time on oxygen, bigger spare tanks to carry and even discover a vacuum cleaner rocket bike and begin whizzing around at quadruple the speed like a sort of space Hagrid.

So, all of these complaints rapidly recede and the only annoyance that remains is the short wait time for crafting items, but that, by virtue of being the only one, becomes trifling as the game opens up into a vast multitude of tasks to complete and places to investigate; it isn’t as if I have to do a stupid three minute puzzle every time I want to buy items cheaper, (yes I mean you Bioshock) and if it doesn’t spoil that game I can assure you by chapter two crafting items won’t be bothering you here. Aside from that, developers are responsive to the community and a recent update has increased the oxygen and tool durability in the early stages to improve your experience.

Breathedge is a wonderous game of beauty, discovery and adventure. The college humour jars at times, but like the annoyances of the early stages this too dissipates and a more confident game emerges.

In Breathedge there is always something to keep you going and I have lost hours into the early morning on repeated nights playing this because I felt I was just about to crack a puzzle or felt I would just investigate that thing over there, just finish off this last part of the task and I will have made significant advancement. Every achievement in Breathedge feels significant and getting that feel and commitment from a player is a sign of a good game.

You’ll get about 30 plus hours out of Breathedge and the developers are planning two free expansions later this year. It isn’t a perfect game or consistent and in some ways that’s a good thing. So, if you can see past the jarring frustrations of the first chapter (somewhat now patched), you will be rewarded with a visually stunning adventure based largely on a solid crafting background. It’s worth your time and you will enjoy it.

I still don’t know why they give you an immortal chicken, but it’s good for shorting out flayed electrics on space debris. I wonder if that’s how my internet cable was cut…

Is it worth playing No Man’s Sky in 2022?

Is it worth playing No Man’s Sky in 2022?

No Man’s Sky has probably one of the most notorious launches for a new game of the last decade. Soaring on hype, the game failed to deliver on almost everything, leaving gamers crushed with buyer’s remorse.

Now, over four years after the initial release of the game (and several large, free updates), is it worth playing after all this time?

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Two planets nearly touching each other (Photo credit o0BaBaBoOeY0o on Reddit)

What’s the game like in 2021?

The core gameplay loop for No Man’s Sky is the same as many other survival/exploration-based games in the genre. You’re a person, in a world, and you harvest resources to build a base, upgrade your character to explore farther, and fight increasingly tougher enemies.

One of the biggest reasons why I could never truly get into Minecraft and its kin was exploration.

The different biomes were neat, but they didn’t make me inclined to stick around if I didn’t immediately find resources or points of interest. Especially for Minecraft’s sake, most of the game is spent underground anyway, making the change in biomes hardly noticeable.

With No Man’s Sky, you’re instead greeted with the same key resources on almost all planets. Some planets will not have these resources in abundance, which means you may have to stock up and come prepared for some planets.

These planets are completely procedurally generated, while they may still fall under similar biomes to other games, they end up being completely unique every time.

An exotic “Plated Planet” biome (Photo credit Lucifer926 on Reddit)

Between zooming from planet to planet, harvesting resources, and building bases across the galaxy, you’ve still got to explore space as well.

Space Stations serve as trading hubs between you and the local system’s economy, with different prices being offered depending on where you are. Here you’ll meet the three prominent races of the galaxy, learning their language to communicate, trading resources, unlocking new technology, and even buying better starships.

Environments That Leave You Breathless

Space – that is where the game truly shines in the graphics department.

Seeing these vibrant, colorful worlds in different systems and configurations often leaves you breathless. Systems with multiple stars, ringed planets like Saturn, even the sheer size and closeness of planets offer awe-inspiring views that can’t be replicated in other games.

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A Three-star system near a ringed planet (Photo credit JIARVIS on Reddit)

However, survival games such as these always fall into the same issue: Is the core gameplay loop enough to keep you entertained?

Just like Minecraft, the core of the game resides around harvesting resources, exploring new places, maybe building a base, and then going to another planet and repeating this cycle. No Man’s Sky offers some breaks to this via space travel, missions, managing your fleet of ships as you travel system to system.

And The Bad News?

The game doesn’t come without any faults, however.

No Man’s Sky has a fairly unimpressive story, which isn’t unlike other games in the same genre. Games like these offer little in the plot department, and instead opt for players to forge their own stories through their experiences while playing and exploring the game.

Gameplay gets repetitive as well, especially if you have bad luck and end up seeing similar planets in each system you jump to – which really ruins immersion when you’ve seen six Acidic planets in your last three jumps. This may be a personal beef though, as I don’t intend to land on every planet I see as other players may.

My final gripe with the game is the lack of difficult combat. The primary “enemy” of the game, Sentinels, are pretty dumb enemies. They offer little challenge after a certain point, and just attack in endless waves if you don’t actively run and hide from them to drop your “wanted level”.

All in all, the game has little to offer for downsides if you are already a veteran of the genre. There may be some struggles in Multiplayer that I’m not aware of, as I have only played solo so far.

Screenshot courtesy of u/Mokshake on reddit.

For me, I’ve never been more hooked in a game of this genre. I’ve already dumped over 70 hours into the game, including a 3 hour stream. The game continues to offer new free updates every few months, which keeps players like me anticipating what comes next.

Would I recommend the game? Absolutely.