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Exploring The Stars And Drawing Cards

An Entertaining Amalgam Of Worthy Inspiration

Slay the Spire didn't invent the rogue-like genre or deck builders, but it certainly popularized the combination and has led to a long list of follow-ups taking inspiration from the now-iconic game. Some veer a bit too close to the source material to be worthy of players' time and money, but others, while intentionally paying homage or simply following in the same footsteps, springboard themselves into something new, different, and well worth checking out. Breachway, from developer Edgeflow Studio, takes some inspiration from Slay the Spire and other rogue-like deck builders, throws in a healthy dash of FTL, and - at least in the short demo build I was given access to - delivers something immersive, complex, and utterly entertaining.

Layers Of Complexity

Breachway puts players in command of their own ship and crew and asks them to manage booth in a series of challenging deep-space dogfights. The concept, in its purest form - is quite simple. Each turn-based encounter between the player ship and an enemy is handled via a deck of cards that are spent with resource points to attack, defend, or perform other functions. Disable/destroy the enemy to win or fail to do so and succumb to an icy death in the vacuum of space.

For players used to more straightforward deck-builders, there are a lot more moving parts and things to simultaneously manage in Breachway than one might expect. Even just the way in which resource points are spent to play cards takes thinking and offers an important angle of stretegisation. Each turn, the player has a separate pool of points for weapons, shields, and systems. Cards cost different combinations of each, but the total available points for each are also malleable. Players can reassign points to focus one a balanced or more specialized approach based on what the enemy ship will be doing (with changes taking effect the next turn), and doing so is a major key to success. Moreover, cards don't simply go into a discard pile when they're spent that's re-shuffled into a deck when the draw pile runs out. Each card has its own cooldown (and some are once-per-fight use), so it's not always worth using the strongest cards right away when they're drawn.

Curating Weapons And Crew

The ship deck isn't simply built freely in Breachway, Instead, each weapon and system has its own mini-deck of a few cards that are all shuffled together. These weapons are slotted into ship hard points, and crew can be assigned to each to offer bonus. Moreover, the equipped weapons and systems dictate the cards that are looted from encounters. It’s here that ships can be customized to specialize in specific weapons and system synergies or crew specialties.

The actual pool of weapons, stems, and crew is limited in the current demo build, but the potential is there for a really interesting and complex web of decision points to build the most effective ship possible. So much going on felt a bit overwhelming, but it also felt fun, and I found myself wanting to dig deeper and understand things better - which I certainly will when Breachway launches in full.

Awaiting More

Rogue-like deckbuilders live and die by their replayability and how well the full suite of gameplay options allow interesting room for exploration without pigeonholing players into a few hyper optimized, "correct" builds. Whether Breachway is able to accomplish that or not isn't possible to parse in such a small slice of the eventual pie, but what's in the preview build is promising. The same applies to exploring the stars and inter-crew relationships, both of which are really only teased in this built. Players interested in a deep an complex deck-builder and and space combat adventure would do well to keep an eye on Breachway when it releases in full on March 22.

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