Earth is going downhill so let's colonise an alien planet that's violently opposed to us being there. That sounds like a good idea, right?
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Right off the bat, let me just say that once you get comfortable with how The Riftbreaker plays, it's a rather habit-forming game. In fact, I had to tear myself away from it to write this review. Now, I'm not saying that its addictiveness is necessarily a positive thing as it's both good and bad. On the good side, it can be a supremely rewarding game but on the bad side, that sense of reward will come after many moments full of stress as even partial failure is utterly devastating. It's one roller coaster of an experience and I absolutely loved it! v1d30chumz 44-212-99-248
The Riftbreaker was developed by the folks who made X-Morph: Defense which had you control aliens in order to conquer Earth and this shares a similar nihilistic theme as the goal is to colonise a planet known as Galatea 37 that clearly doesn't want you to do so. It's funny that the protagonist Ashley S. Nowak is environmentally conscious but she must pilot her robot suit Mr. Riggs to absolutely devastate the flora and fauna in order to gather enough resources to build bases and things that definitely don't belong on Galatea 37. 🪐
The core gameplay is also similar to X-Morph: Defense as it poses a blend of twin-stick shooting and real-time strategy except this time, it's completely single player and the action is consistent instead of being presented in phases. Exploring your current area while filling out your map is crucial and after building a base with some bells and whistles, you'll lay power lines to various machines that can automatically mine for materials, shoot hostile creatures, purify water, and much more. Expanding in this way kind of reminded me of Astroneer. 👩🚀
Even with defensive measures in place, dealing with hostile alien forces is still a hands-on matter as Mr. Riggs is highly capable of taking out swarms of monstrous creatures. That'll show them for not welcoming us with open arms! Anyway, you can equip 3 weapons to each hand and swap between them on the fly. Whether you're bashing a horde of ankle biters with a giant hammer or setting a nest ablaze with a flamethrower, it's satisfying stuff. You also get an evasive manoeuvre that you can swap out as well as passive accessories and active skills such as grenades, landmines, and heal items. Needless to say, decking Mr. Riggs out to be an alien-killing machine is a treat.
The real-time strategy portion is impressively complex with new elements constantly being added as you research technologies and expand your base. You'll end up building pipelines, harvesters, and loads of power generators to make it all run. Watching your reach extend from a central location to the entire map is super-satisfying stuff even though what you're doing to this poor planet is a complete disgrace. There's just something about a massive network of interconnected parts that's awesome to observe and the fact that the campaign is open-ended and allows you to do whatever whenever you wish makes all of this even more rewarding.
Of course, The Riftbreaker has its downsides; the most notable being that it's an undeniably stressful game. What makes it so anxiety-inducing is that you have to constantly juggle everything perfectly while being ready for an alien attack at any moment. Sure, you get a countdown but it's sometimes not enough, especially when you have an enormous compound. Plus, the aliens become super-tough and relentless and can completely wipe out everything you've built in a matter of minutes which is extremely disheartening. This is all made worse with some unintuitive aspects such as the inability to move things and the fact that it's hard to find specific structures. Also, having enough power is a frequent chore so I wish you could toggle whole categories of structures instead of doing so one-by-one.
The Riftbreaker is one of the most rewarding games that I've ever played. With that in mind, that sense of accomplishment will come after many stressful moments and heartbreaking failures which could have been alleviated with some more intuitive mechanics.
- + Brilliant and challenging blend of twin-stick action and real-time strategy gameplay
- + Enjoyable open-ended structure
- + Loads of nifty gear and structures
- - Becomes exceptionally stressful with slight slip-ups having devastating consequences
- - Many elements could be more intuitive