There’s little doubt survival games have grown in popularity in recent years. With the likes of Ark: Survival Evolved, The Forest, and Subnautica making waves, the serious struggle of surviving the elements, as well as man and nature itself, has turned into a compelling genre in gaming.
Then there’s Breathedge.
Recently released into Steam Early Acces, Breathedge is a game that takes the survival game formula on turns it sideways. Instead of worrying about a zombie apocalypse, cannibals, or of the frigid wilds of Canadian wilderness, players will do what they can to survive in space.
OK, sure. There are survival games in space, too, like Osiris: A New Dawn and Take On Mars, but unlike other games in the same subgenre, Breathedge throws seriousness to the wind by adding in a hefty dose of comedy to make for an interesting change of pace.
A Space Story
Developed by RedRuins Softworks, Breathedge is what happens when someone plays Prey and thinks it needs more fart and pee jokes. Currently in Steam Early Access, the game puts players in the shoes of a Russian astronaut carrying his grandfather’s ashes into space for a star-studded funeral.
Of course, as space is wont to cause, an accident invariably happens and the player will try to survive out in space — and that’s where the seriousness ends.
After the intro involving two mobster robots that could have shown up in any episode of Futurama, players find themselves in a leaky airlock. The first option is to plug the tube using a prized chicken, but unfortunately, the chicken has another “hole” in it, causing air to escape.
This leaves the second option as the only viable alternative: plug the hole with chewed bubble gum.
Once out of the airlock and in the “station” proper, pictures and other interactive items help give some background on the player’s character, the grandfather, and this strange future where condoms and lead paint are required to improve everything from your spacesuit to your oxygen tanks.
Don’t Die, Comrade
In typical survival game fashion, hunger and thirst will be two of your biggest enemies in Breathedge. Both will tick down as the game goes on, while oxygen will deplete once you step into space. When either of the three drops to zero, the player’s health starts ticking away and could ultimately lead to the “Comrade, You Are Dead” screen.
Oh, and there’s radiation to consider because space.
However, it’s something you’ll have to deal with because stepping outside into the void of space is where Breathedge really takes off. RedRuins captured the beauty of outer space with nearly pinpoint accuracy. It’s beautiful and expansive, serene and still.
Well, up until the point when warning sirens blast through that serenity, screaming that you’re running out of air.
Oxygen plays a big role in Breathedge, hence “breath” in the title. Early on, players will have to time their trips outside appropriately or else they’ll find themselves running out of oxygen. It makes for a unique addition to the survival game formula as running out of air can cause a quicker death than going hungry or thirsty.
It requires a bit more planning and can lead to tense moments of rushing back to base on a quickly depleting clock, something you’ll quickly get used to because space is where you’ll have to gather the resources needed to survive and build tools.
The more resources you gather, of course, means the more tools and equipment you’ll have available to build. Building more equipment means the ability to improve oxygen reserves or build oxygen stations in space to explore even farther away.
There are a dozen or so areas to scavenge that contain more resources and blueprints for new equipment, so exploration is always pushed further and further out. The farthest area currently available for exploration is a ship that will officially end the first chapter available in Early Access, but there are surely more to come in future updates.
The controls in Breathedge are fairly basic since most of the actions involve clicking around to pick up items or collect resources. However, movement can leave a lot to be desired in this early stage in the game.
Get too close to a floating resource and you can knock it away. Far away. Move a bit too fast and you can whiz on by an object or landmark, forcing you to whip back by and a (hopefully) slower speed.
There’s a certain amount of finesse needed with the controls to get the timing just right. It adds a certain “reality” to the game, but with all of the game’s other “unrealistic” elements, it can be a bit grating.
(Un)Intuitive Inventory Management
There’s also a lack of intuitiveness in regards to inventory.
In Breathedge, there are a lot of items to collect and only a limited amount that can be carried on your person. After a while, players will have to make use of the container located in the main room or simply leave the junk all over the floor.
Like other survival games, this type of “inventory management” is likely part of the struggle to survive, but there could be some changes to make it a better experience for the players — can we getanother locker, please? Or, you know, a backpack?
Along with all the resources you need to carry around with you, there’s also a need to make multiple tools. Every item or tool you plan to use, from a drill to a key, needs to be equipped in one of your four item slots — so there’s a lot of opening up the inventory screen to get the tools needed.
Since tools have a durability number attached to them, once they break, players will have to pull up the inventory screen and equip the item again. Although there’s a shortcut you can take, any method comes off as a bit on the tedious side.
In Space, No One Can Hear You Fart
Breathedge’s big selling point is the humor.
I felt it was a bit gauche, but without the humor, this constant gathering and building of tools would become incredibly mundane. It’s a much different approach from the doom and gloom of most survival games.
Most of the humor will come in the form of item descriptions, such as the Accelerator that uses bodily gases to propel you faster in space. Or, for example, a dead, floating astronaut can be found chained to a bed while in the middle of some kinky act before an accident threw him into outer space.
Other jokes will occur via the spacesuit computer as it describes impending doom, provides an endless amount of bad advice, and has players complete a mission that requires to build an item aptly called “Crap Imposed by the Developers.”
In the end, it makes life and death a bit less serious.
The Verdict (For Now)
If you want a game filled with humor then Beathedge has plenty. It’s enough to make the repetitive tasks seem not so banal (that is if they hit you just right).
Those interested can find it on Steam for $15.99. RedRuins Software said in a recent update that chapter two will release by the end of 2018.