Quick Look – Breathedge (#JustOnePercent 4/100)

Developer: RedRuins Softworks

Release Date: February 25, 2021

MSRP: $24.99

played on XBox GamePass for PC

I am starting to suspect I don’t actually enjoy survival games all that much, so I almost skipped over this one, but with it being on GamePass, I figured it was a low risk proposition. I was optimistic – the opening credits had me giggling, and I really enjoyed the opening of the frame story. Breathedge has a quirky sense of humor, and impressive production values for a studio’s first release. I was totally onboard, right up until I got into the actual mechanics of the thing.

The player character is aboard a space ship for his grandfather’s funeral, when the “space hearse” flies apart. You’re immediately tasked with fixing an atmosphere leak, and then you have a few minutes to look around and absorb some background information before the computer sends you out to start doing some repairs.

You start with nothing but a very basic spacesuit and a wisecracking computer telling you what to do. Usually, in survival games, you need to worry about food, water, and your health, but here the ante is upped because what’s going to slow you down the most in the early game is oxygen. Your O2 tank is pitifully small, so it’ll be awhile before you can get very far at all from the ship. So you exit the airlock, float around and try to grab stuff to unlock blueprints and fill your inventory with materials you can use to make stuff, but that ticking timer is always going, and you can’t get far before you have to run back to home base to refill your oxygen.

Crafting is simple enough, at least once you find whatever item unlocks the blueprint for the thing you’re looking to craft. The inventory limits don’t feel overly restrictive, considering how often you’re returning to base. There’s space where you can store some stuff on the ship, and I never felt like there was any shortage of food or water already assembled, but the recipes to make your own unlock almost immediately. Usually, inventory management is the first thing to frustrate me in this genre, so my lack of issues was a nice surprise.

Finding the things you need is a whole other story. I spent way too long looking for a floating hunk of wire before realizing I needed to find a piece sticking out of some wreckage and rip it off. Breaking things (once you unlock the blueprint for and craft a Scrapper) is a little tedious, but not as much as trying to grab the flying debris once the thing finally breaks apart. Don’t expect to go out on big scavenging trips – the early game you’ll either be stocking up close to home base, or attempting to explore to find rarer resources and ignoring everything else.

But if the need to make a million short trips sounds like a good time, and you enjoy some referential humor (and the not-so-occasional toilet joke), you might be into this. Even on normal, everything will kill you quickly, though. Go too far from the ship, run out of air and die. Go off in a direction that’s too cold? Freeze to death. Actually start managing your oxygen and wander towards the extraction point without first finding all the doodads you need to upgrade your suit? Radiation’s going to be the death of you. I got the vibe that this was really a slow-and-steady-wins-the-race kind of game.

I don’t think Breathedge is a bad game – it’s just not for me. I gave it about an hour and a half before I decided I had seen enough to make that determination. I personally think that the exploration is the best part of survival games, and it’s precisely that part of this game that I was finding myself frustrated with. I’m glad I checked it out – it looked like something on the fringes of the kind of game I enjoy, and now I know that I’m going to be A-OK with skipping this one.

SteamDB estimates that Breathedge has sold somewhere between 233,000 and 640,800 copies on Steam (which doesn’t take into account anyone playing it through a subscription service). That gives it a ranking of 905 out of 10,967 releases in 2021.

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