Today we will be taking a look at 2021 indie title called The Riftbreaker that I believe more people should try. It is quite the gem!
Disclaimer: I bought the game with my own money and did not get a review copy. I have not had any contact with the game’s developer. I just really like this game!
So what is “The Riftbreaker”?
Imagine someone combining Diablo with a tower defense game, a large scoop of Factorio, and a lot of survival game DNA thrown in. This is The Riftbreaker! The name of the game is building, optimizing resource gathering, making awesome weapons, automated defensive systems for your base and fighting hordes of hundreds to tens of thousands of enemies at a time!
Ashley and Mr. Riggs!
There are two main modes right now, Survival and Campaign and the game has official mod support. Plus, it is a sleek, modern title with good optimization and ray tracing. It looks good, runs well, plays amazing! The different biomes have different weather effects, the whole planet has a day/night cycle and the game has multiple random events that can affect the environment, your base, or the wildlife!
Planet – Galatea 37! Mission? Setting it up for colonization!
You and your robotic powered armour are sent out to this beautiful and wild alien world as a sort of forward scout unit which is supposed to create a few outposts and gather enough resources to complete a huge portal that will link Earth to your current location. Said portal will connect this planet called Galatea 37 with Earth and allow the human race to capture it fully and start mining it and colonizing it.
Galatea herself is a beautiful and diverse planet full of luscious jungles, arid nuclear deserts, magma-filled volcanic lands and huge swamplands, among other biomes (more on that later). The game’s many locations are stunning to look at and are full of wacky and cool animals and plants. Many of whom are semi-unique for their biome (more on that later…) and have their own attacks and routines and adaptations. Each biome has its own resources and specific events or hardships too!
Gameplay – one big mashup!
The game’s gameplay loop is quite a lot to take in. Basically, the chief objective is usually either to survive for a given amount of time (Survival mode is mostly this^) or to explore and scan the local wildlife and plant-life or look out for rare resources to build a base with. It all feeds in on itself during the game or survival mode.
This base is a work in progress. Note the multiple teleportation points!
You need to build a base for security, but to do that you need resources. You need to explore or fight the animals for resources. Some of them are quite tough, so you will need better equipment or consumables and more or more powerful weapons. Those may need resources or research, which requires buildings and power/water, which require power stations and walls and turrets to defend them when you are not near them… the animals themselves can drop some of those materials so you still need to fight them, but scanning them and raising one’s knowledge on them gives not only lore but bonuses to damage AND resource drop rates! The plants matter too, since some of the best ways to get late-game resources is with harvesting some of the dozens of unique types of plant life via drones.
Exploring the world may yield many rewards. Scanners, radars… it matters!
Some locations discovered during the campaign can have a lot of one resource and very little of others. So for example, you may need a compressor to take water from the jungle and transport it to your desert base. It really is quite involved as a process!
A part of the vast tech tree…
To top it off, the animals will at times amass great waves to assault you or your base. You see, Galatea seems to know that it is under existential threat by humanity, so it will try sending its many varied beasts against you. Now… your powered armour, Mister Riggs, is a 4 meter tall beast of a machine with access to flamethrowers, gauss guns, laser swords, gigantic shotguns and miniguns, energy lances, nuclear mines and drones… but some of these beasts can contest even such a monster in combat!
Engaging the wildlife in combat!
From living rock-like creatures to horse-sized swarm predators or carnivorous semi-invisible brutes or towering strider-sized creatures served by drones who can engage even a mech like yours in combat – the enemy roster is quite varied. And while a brutal power fist strike, a grenade or a 50. Machinegun can deal with a lot of threats, some creatures require different tactics. For example, certain creatures cannot really be harmed by gunfire, even from your large-caliber death dealers. But an energy or laser weapon vaporizes them. Maybe the powerful missile launcher is sub-optimal at dealing damage to the horde, but a flamethrower or a brutal 5-meter-long lance can make the enemy stop dead in its tracks. Many of the game’s creatures can be immune or semi-immune to one weapon type only to fall prey to a different one. This is where the game’s research and crafting component kicks in. You start off with a blaster, a machinegun, and a sword. This is useful equipment actually, but you will need enhanced versions of those and more weapons in general. Very useful to have different types of weapons too. For example a melee weapon, an energy weapon, perhaps some sort of explosive weapon, bullets and a liquid-based gun (flamethrower, cryogenic weapons etc.). Different ammo types because while buildings like the armory produce munitions and ammo depots can store it – that takes time. And when you are up against ten thousand enemies you WILL switch out your weapons when they run out!
These guys used to scare me quite a bit!
Really the game offers a lot of variety and you will be doing a little bit of everything all at once. Building bases, creating massive walls of turrets and artillery (the tower defense aspect!), optimizing production – and remember to place portals (rifts!) for faster travel! They are so cheap and its easy to go from exploring a dangerous area for resources to defending your base in mere seconds!
I don’t know why but I love the Toxic biome :O
One other cool detail is that the different biomes have different weather effects, the whole planet has a day/night cycle and the game has multiple random events that can affect the environment, your base, or the wildlife! For example, a blue moon may mean a more passive wildlife. A storm may mean lower solar power, but better wind power. An asteroid rain can damage you and your base (and the animals too) while unique events such as sandstorms or volcanic ash can make survival on those biomes – even harder. Its awesome!
The story – some ludonarrative dissonance?
Many of you have perhaps already picked up on the problem explored within the game’s plot. The colonization of Galatea 37 by an advanced humanity – this may destroy the planet long-term. The game’s two main characters, the human Ashley (who is some weird spec ops / explorer / biologist / builder combo) and her mechanical mech Mister Riggs, are opposites in this aspect. Riggs is an advanced AI and is very much in favor of the mission. He isn’t without any humor or at least some care for the alien lifeforms, but he really cares about finishing the mission for Earth and defending Ashley. Ashley in the meantime does care a bit for the mission but is far more concerned about the alien world and its preservation, at least so she says…
Slowly terraforming this place…
It is just weird that she says that while approving the creation of nuclear artillery turrets that vaporize hundreds of creatures at a time, builds intricate fortresses with kill zones optimized to perfection, extracting all the resources she can find alongside
And if she is piloting the mech (I am not 100% certain she is) directly, then she is in the suit as it cuts down or guns down tens of thousands of alien animals defending their home.
Quicksand can be dangerous, must reinforce first!
Now I am not going to protest this too much. Adding even more complexity to somehow play the game passively or as a pacifist sounds like a great idea, but Riftbreaker is an indie game and one with dozens or hundreds of hours of content even without taking into account mods. Suffice it to say, it is just weird.
Dual wielding a plasma gun and a grenade launcher!
Won’t stop me from building my massive artillery fortress though! I love Galatea’s lore and wildlife and plant life, gotta mention it cause it is a feature too!
Technologically competent and modding too!
The Riftbreaker has mod support like an actual PC game. Major props for that and this will add more hours of content to any player who wishes to dabble in it. Also here at Sapphire we love games with high end technology and The Riftbreaker is indeed one such title.
It has support for FSR 2.0 and XeSS. It has ray traced features and the game uses CPUs well. It can handle thousands of enemies with simple AI at once and a simple but working ecosystem as well. Props, a competently made DX12 title. It has some bugs though, even if fewer in number than your average AA or AAA title. Plus, it has a good benchmark too!
The game received its first DLC on the 18th of July, 2022 – Metal Terror. Taking us into a brand-new metallic (cool!) biome with some new buildings and weapons as well as a new branch of the storyline. Oh and new enemies too!
Exploring the metal valley!
On release this DLC got critiqued for not offering too much new content and for being buggy. Now, fair enough on it being buggy, even if it is a lot better nowadays. That is fair criticism. But more Riftbreaker is what I wanted and this short 5-8 hour DLC (at least for me) gave me that in spades. Plus, some cool new weapons and some cool new Survival maps!
Into The Dark and Beyond!
Into The Dark is the game’s newest DLC and it looks extremely interesting. I am yet to play it but it seems to take place underground and includes even more brand-new mechanics and enemies. I cannot wait to play it!
Mods like this one will keep me happy till the new DLC!
Now The Riftbreaker is no perfect game. I do think it has bugs that still need attention, I would love RTGI and RT Reflections to come to the game, its AI is very simple for most enemies and I wonder if perhaps a bit more could be done to improve it. Yes they are animals and a few of them are not complete beetles, but still. Id love a bit more. I also find it odd how the planet has actual predator and prey combat but the moment the two fighting aliens see you enter their area, they stop their natural battle and attack you. I mean… I can see how they’d do that late game when their planet is being strip-mined and I have killed over 4 million of their friends already but not at the start.
Zade is right on this one!
Still – it is awesome. This diablo / tower defense / survival / management and building / strategy hack and slash exploration (how many genres…) game is awesome and I am so glad I picked it up. If you are into it even slightly or like games of this sort – do give it a try. We need more
The articles content, opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed in SAPPHIRE NATION are the authors’ own and do not necessarily represent official policy or position of SAPPHIRE Technology.