Reviews - Updated on March 29, 2022

The tower defense genre, extremely popular on mobile devices, is nowhere near as noticeable on PC and consoles. Of course, there are similar projects there, but there are not so many “pure” TDs – as a rule, the main focus is on something else, using the rebuilding of the base and the extermination of the enemy hordes attacking it as one of the secondary elements of the gameplay. The reason is clear – at the present time for such serious platforms it is already somewhat undignified to limit the gameplay only to the construction of towers and watching the firing of cannons.

A fresh example of a mixture of genres is The Riftbreaker from Polish developers EXOR Studios. The plot is simple: space pioneers colonize a planet inhabited by hostile flora and fauna. Do you think that with such a plot, nothing interesting should be expected? Wrong!

Factorio for dummies?

The Riftbreaker is practically assembled from pieces of other games, like a puzzle. The authors decided not to limit themselves to the standard Tower Defense gameplay, but to go much further. Among the sources of inspiration are Factorio, Alien Shooter, classic RTS and even ARPG like Diablo. But it’s not worth approaching with standard measurements, hanging labels – everything is much more interesting here, and borrowings from other projects, although noticeable, are neatly adjusted to each other and do not leave the impression of a cobbled together monster.

The Riftbreaker: Обзор

The first priority after landing is to provide the base with electricity.

There was even a place for the plot – and you can’t say that it wasn’t given enough attention. In the distant future, humanity is starting to explore distant worlds. Captain Ashley Novak is sent to the planet Galatea-37 to prepare it for the coming colonization. Riftbreaker (that’s what they call such research scientists here) is helpless without a huge mech suit that has some kind of mind – Ashley calls him Mr. Riggs. Ashley and Mr. Riggs are not averse to chatting – their dialogues serve as hints for further actions, and they simply entertain the player: listening to the chatter of a girl and a robot is sometimes funny, even if it sometimes interferes with doing business and exploring our new haven.

An indomitable planet

Galatea-37 is a beautiful and terrible planet. This is not a lifeless stone or ice ball, but a world bursting with variety. Killer beauty – Ashley knowingly set off on a journey in the company of fur: the local flora (and sometimes fauna) is not at all happy with the aliens and is trying to destroy them, regardless of the losses. What can be countered, except for the ingenuity of a riftbreaker and the firepower of Mister Riggs? Of course, to build an island of calm and silence in such a bright and predatory world. This island, however, is able to snarl with fire, bullets and rockets, providing normal working conditions for the main character – during the passage of the campaign, she will have to build a portal to establish a stable connection with the Earth.

The Riftbreaker: Обзор

The desert has its own characteristics – for example, you have to take into account the presence of quicksand. Either we huddle on the islands of an ordinary surface, or we study special tiles to create a solid foundation.

If the plot and a strict chain of tasks do not interest you, but you need clean, concentrated gameplay, then you can pay attention to the survival mode, where there are no clear goals, but it becomes possible to customize the game for yourself by changing a dozen settings from the duration of the scenario to the damage of enemies.

New house

At the initial stage of the passage, The Riftbreaker is most reminiscent of Factorio: the need to independently extract resources and provide energy to a growing base, the first timid raids of local animals, the simplest production chains … It seems that a little more, and you can forget about the defense of the base, trusting the guns, and do it yourself production automation.

But, as I said, this game should not be approached with the usual standards. Building fortifications, ensuring continuous production, managing resources is just one of the many elements of The Riftbreaker gameplay. If you rest only on it, then it’s easy to get bored – the local simulation of production cannot be compared with the monstrosity of Factorio. Production chains are ridiculously short, logistics are non-existent (any resource other than liquids is instantly teleported to a shared storage), so it makes no sense to fight over optimal mining automation.

The Riftbreaker: Обзор

And in this biome, it is very easy to die by inadvertently stepping into a colony of acid mushrooms.

But over the careful defense of the base you have to think – and well. Everything is subordinated to preventing aggressive fauna from devouring and breaking your buildings. Guns, missiles, mines, lasers that torment alien flesh are just the end point of all our efforts to ensure the security of the base.

To extract resources, provide factories with energy and repairs, protect vulnerable points with walls and batteries of guns – there is enough work, Ashley is constantly busy with something. Here it will not work, as in Factorio, to admire a well-established technological process; on the contrary, there is always time trouble, there is always a shortage of one resource, then another, the base needs to be repaired, expanded, rebuilt … There is also a race for technology: the research tree is simply huge, and neglecting it is like death – without investing in science, it is unlikely that you will be able to survive in such complex conditions.

The Riftbreaker: Обзор

The research tree, or rather just one of its sections. The remaining two are no less extensive.

New weapons, new buildings, improvements – all this must be studied and not forgotten to be put into practice. This is where one of the few disadvantages of The Riftbreaker lies – not the best implementation of the construction of improved building options. Manually upgrading each is so-so fun, especially on a large base.

Not only valuable fur

Take a break from the routine will help Mr. Riggs. Don’t forget that he has tremendous combat power on his own. This is not just a scout or a foreman who gives orders to construction drones, but a real combat vehicle that alone can repel an enemy invasion. However, much more often we will have to fight outside the base – especially in the campaign.

It will not work to provide production with everything necessary, fenced off by walls in a narrow section of the map – you have to travel, exploring the world. In addition to the central settlement, you can visit other parts of the planet, founding small towns there (or large ones – as your heart desires and the local living creatures allow). One outpost is for uranium mining, the second provides an influx of valuable minerals, and the third is just for the soul.

The Riftbreaker: Обзор

Galatea 37 is especially beautiful at night. In addition to changing the time of day, nature constantly reminds of itself with natural disasters from tornadoes and earthquakes to meteor showers.

Biomes on Galatea-37 are the most diverse, and the animal world has dozens of unique creatures that differ from each other both in appearance and behavior. Small evil monsters attacking in huge crowds, “shooters” spitting acid and throwing huge exploding balls, clumsy armadillos, invisible men, strange stone giants – the biosphere of this planet will find something to surprise you with.

All this fauna is also a source of resources: you can get energy from the biomass left after the battles, the same is true for plants – sometimes it is beneficial to cut down the entire forest in the area for a couple of extra megawatts. From defeated enemies, you can collect minerals, and sometimes DNA samples. With the help of the latter, it will be possible to find out detailed information about this type: resistance and vulnerability, damage done, amount of health – all this is entered into the database.

Kill ’Em All

This results in an interesting effect – Galatea-37 is not limited to the perimeter of the erected base. The world can be explored – both in search of mineral deposits, and for your own pleasure, studying new types of animals and, of course, fighting with them. The planet does not skimp on the diversity of biomes: jungle, desert, acid fields, volcanic areas – each with its own properties and inhabitants.

Doing research (more precisely, fighting hordes of monsters alone) outside the base is no less interesting than building a competent defense of the settlement. Ashley can research new equipment blueprints and find weapon mods to customize Mr. Riggs’ outfit.

The Riftbreaker: Обзор

A killing machine and just a good conversationalist.

Here we have a full-fledged isometric action movie in the spirit of Alien Shooter: one hero against many enemies, endless shooting and spectacular scenes of using melee weapons. ARPG elements in the form of the pursuit of the best performance are also in place – the mech has many parameters that can be changed, and the arsenal of weapons includes dozens of samples from a sword and a hammer to an atomic mine and a rocket launcher, not counting activated skills and modifications.

In the end, the flamethrower is just beautiful.

Finally, one cannot fail to note the excellent technical condition of the project – it is perfectly optimized, and I did not observe any errors or crashes at all. If you try, then, of course, you can find cons – the campaign, for example, sins with a grind that does not allow you to move on (I will remember the mission to search for acid fungus spores for a long time). The plot part is hardly suitable for re-passing – it’s not only the delay of the gameplay, but also the educational nature of the campaign.

But the survival mode with its wide possibilities for customization and setting the game conditions is a real find for fans of such entertainment, it is thanks to it that The Riftbreaker has a great future. Perhaps, besides Galatea-37, other planets are waiting for us?

Pros: optimization; competent mixing of several genres; elaboration of each element of the gameplay; the ability to customize the game for yourself in survival mode.

Cons: The length of some campaign missions.

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