Review of The Riftbreaker. Space RTS for those who like to spend couple hundred hours
After several years of development, The Riftbreaker came out in early access on Steam, in which the player will have to survive on a distant planet, simultaneously building up the base and fighting off the raids of the local fauna. And all this in the open world. Should you devote time to this project against the backdrop of the abundance of autumn games? Let’s figure it out now.
Jump into the portal and we’ll begin
The main thing that overwhelms The Riftbreaker is scale. The authors not only took and mixed elements of different genres, but they also expanded them in all directions.
So, in the game, there are four biomes (tropics, sands, swamps, and volcanoes), each with its own set of flora, fauna, and various fantastic life forms, such as intelligent mushrooms. The entire biome is not just decoration, but part of well-written game lore, and all its types, from a small bush to a huge mother nest, have 10 levels of research.
The more you interact with them (kill or research with a bioscanner), the more you learn and get different bonuses (more resources for a kill, higher damage, vulnerability to weapons, and so on). And if everything is clear with the fauna, then the aggressive flora is the unusual gameplay mechanic of The Riftbreaker, especially noticeable in the swamp biome. Its aggressive mycelium, shooting acid and filling everything in a row, has to be literally burned out.
Even the very foundation of the location will be a problem. In the arid biome, quicksand will prevent you from deploying, and in the volcanic zone, a hot surface. And this not to mention the ubiquitous meteorite and acid rain, earthquakes, sand and ion storms, red moon, fog, and other weather effects that affect the gameplay.
The scale manifested itself in the size of the locations: here they are either large or huge – they are randomly generated and filled with content in accordance with the biome. Therefore, even a small exploration turns into a real hike and takes more than hal hour.
All these decisions of the game designers of The Riftbreaker work well, forcing you to strain your brains and reflexes, constantly switch attention and not get stuck in any one process.
Dig Dig Dig.
The resource base of The Riftbreaker is the same as in other economic strategies: 2 main and 4 rare metals, plant and animal biomass, 4 unique minerals, and, of course, electricity and water. All of them are applied as the gameplay develops, so you will have to get them.
Tower Defense and RTS prevail here – and this is the most boring part of the project. The problem is that most of the gameplay of the entire Riftbreaker is focused on the common extraction of resources around which everything else revolves.
No, for the first 15-20 hours it is very exciting to build up the main base, conduct research, build up all kinds of reserves, strengthen defenses and explore the world. But when the nearby resources are exhausted, you have to go farther and farther for new raw materials, or even move to another location.
And here construction turns into a routine: set up mines, protect with towers, supply everything with electricity, build strong walls. For the sake of a little progress, you need to spend several hours and for the fifth or tenth time, like it or not, gets bored. And the tenth and even the twentieth time will surely come because each rare earth element or unique mineral opens in its own location and is available in small quantities.
It would seem that the constant attacks of hordes of alien beasts should make the process more meaningful, but with competent defense, mobs do not cause problems, that is, construction dominates.
Variety could be given by chains of production and trade, some kind of bot units that would transport the delivered goods and guard them. The chains themselves are still in the game, but they are simple, short, and ineffective. Logistics has been replaced by instant teleportation, the extracted resource is immediately available at any point.
In such huge locations, it is much more reasonable (and more enjoyable) to do the same thing, using mobile units: miners, guards, carriers. And to “dig in” with turrets on the fattest deposits, important passages, and bases. Moreover, enemies can attack from any direction and it is wasteful to build up each piece in three layers.
In short, the Tower Defense genre conflicts with the scope of the project. The current gameplay would look good on one, even a large, location, which the player would gradually explore and build on. And with the scale of the release version, it was necessary to switch to the side of classic RTS with units and their management. And that’s why I’m sure that the developers had the opportunity to make units.
Ashley and her “Mr. Riggs”
According to the plot of our protagonist Ashley Novak is thrown to the distant planet Galatea-37 in order to prepare for colonization. Such pioneering builders are called “rifle breakers”, they are chained in a humanoid robotic suit under the control of artificial intelligence, and must single-handedly do all the work.
We start in an open field with a basic set of buildings and must not only gain a foothold but also expand. Three blocks of research will help us in this: one is dedicated to new buildings of the base and improvements to them, the second opens weapons, equipment, and consumables, and the third will help to overcome the hardships of being on Galatea.
Is all this really necessary? In our subjective opinion, the first two blocks of research are nothing more than an artificial obstacle and pumping. The earth connection is our ultimate goal, we survive alone. Isn’t it more logical to immediately load all the buildings already known on Earth into the mechs? All the same, we will not be able to build them without starting the extraction of uranium or titanium.
Leveling mech and various loot for it? Yes, as a result, he became much cooler, he was able to crush enemies with one left, and the roster of weapons made me happy. But we understand how it works – the enemies get thicker, we get stronger. A game of numbers, because the enemies themselves do not change! Why do we need four types of a same weapon like a shotgun or minigun? Moreover, the weapon lends itself to modification (the list is huge!), You can get a good buff.
It seems like a form of madness that we needed to improve the General Headquarters six or seven times, and other useful buildings at least 3 times. The effect of all these improvements is either purely cosmetic or tied to the game of numbers, like with a weapon.
The campaign itself is forty hours, but interest in it fades away much faster due to the deliberate protraction. We open each new resource according to the same scheme: first exploration, then research, and, finally, the beginning of production. Everything is in separate locations and with different additional conditions.
Was it impossible to fit into a one-hour-long mission and one location? The money and time that should have been spent on units and logistics and get more value were buried in excess pumping and resource search.
It is doubly disappointing because the problem is not in the script and not in the quests! Despite the fact that we only listen to the dialogues between Ashley and the AI, they are all very well spelled out, therefore disputes, discussions, and reasoning cause a keen interest in what is happening, and I cannot say that I was tired of their chatter. Quests for the most part are unique and do not repeat (although they follow a general outline), well-designed, made for specific biomes and situations.
The Riftbreaker is a strong and distinctive project with a number of finds that can interest the player, fed up with the latest games in such genres as survival, RTS, and action RPG. Plus, the novelty is also in a rare sci-fi setting!
The main thing is to take into account the listed problems and observe the measure. There are so many things here that at first, the eyes run-up. Whole evenings will have to sit for some specific aspect of the game – developing the base, exploring the world, repelling hordes of enemies, pumping mech and testing its build.
And then you get bored.