Rating : 8/10
I first got my hands on The Riftbreaker during the Steam Next Fest. I replayed the demo many times, trying to get as much as I could out of it, but I was constantly disappointed at the scripted cut-off point and desperately craved more. I’m happy to say that the full game satiated that hankering – and then some.
The Riftbreaker is a survival, base-building, action-RPG from EXOR Studios. You take the role of Ashley S. Nowak, the titular Riftbreaker, who commandeers her Mech, affectionately referred to by her as Mr. Riggs. The two are on a mission to the distant planet of Galatea 37, teleported there through a one-way portal, to build a base capable of sustaining a two-way rift back to earth and with hopes of laying the foundation of colonisation.
You start with a basic pallet of buildings. You build up your initial outpost and start harvesting your first resources, and then begin to organise your base further, with further resources and technologies available through upgrades, as well as a weighty research tree. You’ll want to make sure you place walls surrounding your base, as well as turrets, because you will very quickly find that you aren’t alone on the planet, and not all the creatures on Galatea 37 are indifferent to your continued existence.
Whilst you’ll only come across smaller enemies to begin with, with each passing in-game day their numbers will grow, as will the variety of hostile creatures. You’ll come across many of them as you explore your initial drop-zone, but you’ll also have to stave off waves of attacks from the creatures, either triggered by your major outpost upgrades, or from nests that pop up around the map. Luckily, Mr. Riggs is also kitted out with weaponry and more than capable of laying the smackdown, so you’ll have plenty of opportunity to get stuck into the fights yourself.
One thing that greatly surprised me was the sheer volume of exploration available. Your initial drop-zone will be a basic, stable biome, but you’ll soon find that the exotic resources you need will require you to venture out to biomes of a more hostile nature. You’ll be able to research upgrades for Mr. Riggs that will allow the Mech to traverse these new locales with ease, as well as new weapons to bolster your firepower. As you travel to the different maps around Galatea 37, you’ll establish further bases to support your resource economy, and acquire all the things necessary for your substantially demanding rift portal back to Earth.
Although the waves and enemy levels increase with the passing of time, The Riftbreaker’s campaign tends to feel like it’s opening up at your pace which is something I particularly appreciated. Having been interested in similar games such as Factorio, I was put off by how quickly the level of depth in those games became overwhelming. Instead, The Riftbreaker lets you progress to the next step of your resource chain at a breathable rate, allowing you to become familiar with new mechanics and the growing functions of your facilities without ever throwing you in at the deep end.
Although some of the dialogue between Ashley and Mr. Riggs can be a little tedious to listen to, I generally appreciated the charm EXOR Studios tried to portray in their bond, especially in their use of it as a commentary about the real world. Ashley, both a scientist as well as an elite commando, constantly expresses to Mr. Riggs that the current state of Earth in-game has become uninhabitable, plagued by over-industrialisation and pollution, and that Galatea 37 should be a genuine fresh start. She wants to prevent damage to the local ecosystem as much as possible, but Mr. Riggs reminds her sternly that their primary directive on their mission is establishing a foundation for colonisation, seemingly at any cost.
There is also the inclusion of random elemental events that occur which honestly are more of a pain than a satisfying gameplay feature that you can work to counter. There’s no real effective way of preventing a hailstorm or earthquake from damaging your base, you’ve just got to hope that your Repair Towers will be able to cover as much damage as possible to avoid you having to run around clicking everything with your repair ability out.
Despite the small frustrations and ever-present threat of hostile creatures on Galatea 37, there’s something relaxing about The Riftbreaker. I found myself sinking hours into it without realising. Besides the main campaign, you have a survival mode to suck up even more of your time, as well as having the option of customising your gameplay to better suit your approach to the game, such as reducing enemy attack frequency or increasing resource availability. With a supportive development team at EXOR Studios that are keen to hear what the community wants in the future for The Riftbreaker, you have a game that is an absolute barrel of fun to play now, and with a bright future ahead of it. You had best hop on at the earliest stop.
A fantastic game for any base-building fans, The Riftbreaker’s tight combination of action-RPG and tower-defense elements produce an addictively fun experience well worth the inevitable hours you’ll lose to it.