I am almost constantly looking for a new survival game to play, as there is something about the stress of being stranded in a hostile area with no food or water that appeals to my brain. The struggle to survive in these games provides an immense level of satisfaction, and the ability to craft new objects constantly helps make me feel like I am always making progress. When I saw Breathedge I was immediately intrigued by both its unique setting and its focus on humor elements rather than horror to tell its story. The first few hours of play lived up to my expectations, but as time went on the game very quickly began to irritate me.
Breathedge begins by showing the player character being interrogated by some brutish-looking robots about their journey. This winds up just being a framing device for the character's adventure through space as you the player take control of the character while they tell their story. Essentially while traveling on a spaceship owned by a galactic funeral service company, something goes wrong and the ship is destroyed out in the middle of nowhere. This leaves you completely alone except for an immortal chicken that once belonged to your grandfather.
Time to Explore the Deep Reaches of Space
Like all survival games, the objective from here is to try and stay alive while collecting resources to craft useful items. The thing that sets Breathedge apart though is that since the player is in space they have complete freedom to explore in every direction. Floating around in anti-gravity really is a joy in this game and it makes exploration that much more interesting. There is a huge amount of debris and wreckage for the player to check out too, so the game's movement mechanics mean that there is always something new to explore as you check every nook and cranny for new resources. Frankly, this is Breathedge's biggest strength and puts it more in line with Subnautica than anything else in the genre.
I really wanted to like Breathedge despite its poor humor and generic gameplay, but the genre switch in the latter half completely ruined the experience for me.
Another aspect that makes Breathedge and Subnautica similar though is that you have a very limited air supply while out exploring. Once the player leaves their starting base they have less than a minute to explore the immediate area around them before they begin to asphyxiate. There are ways to get around this though by acquiring permanent upgrades to the air supply, setting up oxygen stations, or even by creating bases and vehicles that generate oxygen. In the early hours maintaining oxygen is pretty frustrating, but eventually, you hardly have to think about it with all of the upgrades.
A Pretty Standard Survival Game
Other than the movement and oxygen mechanics of Breathedge though it really struggles to do something different than 95% of the survival games in the genre. Players will get stuck in the same tired loop of collect resources, create tools to collect better resources, break tools, collect resources to recraft tools, and continue collecting better resources. There are several locations for you to unlock as the game goes on that are fun to explore at first, but eventually, the player will go back to doing the same things that they were doing before.
Breathedge tries to break this up by inserting humor and a storyline into this experience, but they do very little to break up the monotony. The story itself isn't complex or engaging enough to make you really care what happens to the characters. The humor on the other hand tends to either be horribly outdated or is some kind of observational humor about survival or sci-fi video games that fall flat. For example, there are several times that Breathedge makes jokes about quests added into a game just to pad the length, but then almost in the next breath it is guilty of doing the same thing it cracked a joke about. Rather than being funny, this makes Breathedge look hypocritical. Other jokes are just unnecessarily cruel or outdated jabs that wouldn't be out of place in an episode of South Park or Family Guy from 2005.
Ten Whole Hours of Breathedge Are Terrible
Despite its issues, though I was willing to accept Breathedge as a generic survival game with an interesting setting, then I got past the halfway point. Halfway through it takes a bizarre turn and randomly switches from survival to a linear story game. Rather than floating around in empty space collecting resources, the player will instead be forced to walk through linear hallways as they discover more about a storyline they could barely care about. The last ten hours or so of Breathedge has very few elements of the open-world survival game that you were playing up to that point, and this makes for a very frustrating experience.
While Breathedge is generic and sports pretty rough humor, I did actually enjoy a lot of the survival parts of the game. I don't think any other survival game has managed to capture the feeling of sheer wonderment and terror that Breathedge does when you first step out of your base into open space. I would have been happy to spend a few dozen hours exploring this space-themed survival game and would have recommended it to fans of the genre. The last ten hours or so though completely ruin the experience though, as it essentially removes all of the good elements that Breathedge has going for it and forces all of the bad to its forefront. I recommend either playing the first half of the game and quitting or just go play Valheim instead.
TechRaptor reviewed Breathedge on PC using a Steam code provided by the developer. Breathedge can be played on PC and will release on Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4 on April 4th.
- Unique Environment
- Engaging Movement Mechanics
- Outdated Humor
- Generic Survival Elements
- Poorly Designed Back Half