Breachway is a stellar space deckbuilder with a cosmic scope

Deep space exploration, spaceship customization, and good ‘ol dude-bashing card games don’t seem like they go together, but after playing the demo for Breachway, I can confidently say this actually makes a perfect trio. 

Breachway combines roguelike elements with deckbuilding to create a run-based space exploration game presenting new challenges in every star system. The basic hook has you exploring a large region of space while searching for new ship components and thus adding cards to the deck you’ll use in combat. Additionally, you’ll pick up new crew members along the way, each with unique abilities. Multiple factions exist in the game, and they all control their own pockets of space. There’s a surprising amount of encounters to be had in Breachway, but as you might expect, most of the time you’re going to stumble into combat. 

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Screenshot by Destructoid

That’s where the card game comes into play. Ship systems, like lasers and shields, supply cards to your deck, and require Ordinance, Energy, and Mass to be played. You’ve got to balance the resources your ship has coming in each turn to defend yourself from incoming attacks and deal damage to your opponent. 

As the fight plays out, you’ll be able to track how close an enemy is to firing on you or how soon you’re going to be hit by incoming missiles. The secret to success is matching your shield charges to any incoming attacks and dishing out maximum damage whenever your opponent has their shields down. Naturally, different cards combo with each other, and some even let you directly target components on your enemy’s ship, potentially allowing you to block some of their cards from being played for a few turns. 

The galaxy as represented in Breachway
Screenshot by Destructoid

A real space adventure

In the heat of battle, the card game at the heart of Breachway is compelling enough, but what really sold me on the game was how runs play out on a larger scale. Almost every mechanic in the game forces you to consider the future and plan for the longevity of your crew. Within battles, you set the rate at which your various resources replenish, which makes for some really tough decisions. More than once, I boosted my Ordinance to prep a heavy attack, only to run out of Energy, leaving my shields down and my hull damaged. 

There’s plenty to think about between battles, too. You get to plan your path through the stars, and sometimes, the only thing between you and the space station that can repair a damaged hull is risky enemy territory. You’ve got to sustain your ship’s integrity through multiple battles, which makes even easy fights feel impactful.

It’s not just the ship itself that you need to manage, either. Crew members have some extremely powerful abilities that boost damage or replenish resources, but this turns out to be another mechanic that asks you to think about the bigger picture. Crew abilities require Command Points that slowly add up after every battle. Sometimes using an ability to finish off one powerful ship would throw off my balance of Command Points and put me in a worse position for the next fight. 

All in all, Breachway really hit a sweet spot for me. As a card game, it’s the only thing that managed to (momentarily) pull my attention away from Android: Netrunner in a long time. As a space game, I found myself genuinely enjoying the exploration and really digging the art and aesthetic. Thanks to this Steam Next Fest demo, I’ll be looking forward to Breachway’s full release on March 22. 

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Gabran Gray

Freelancer writer – Gabran has been an avid gamer since he was old enough to manipulate a keyboard and mouse. He’s been writing professionally and covering all things video games since 2021.

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