From indie developer Portaplay, Broken Lines is a tactical strategy game featuring “pause and play” mechanics about a group of eight soldiers who crash-lands behind enemy lines. It’s up to you to lead them home while fending off the enemy and helping them deal with the horrors of war.
Broken Lines allows you to set various difficulty options you have. Apart from the standard difficulty options present in a lot of games, this game actually allows you to customize enemy AI – what they can and can’t do and you can enable them to be unforgiving or go easy, allowing you to tailor the experience to your individual liking.
Broken Lines has five unique endings. Completing your play-through shows your overall campaign stats including your most useful (and useless) unit, number of enemies killed, how many times you’ve restarted missions, and more.
In terms of gameplay, the game offers a hybrid system switching between Real-Time and Turn-Based – you command your units in a pause mode and when you’re happy with your commands you press “play” and both your team and the enemy carry out the moves in sync.
This means you really need to think ahead to what your opponents are planning and outmanoeuvre them. Setting up ambushes and flanking is important because you’re always going to be outnumbered and fighting uphill a lot more than you’d expect. Every command is queued in a bar at the bottom of the screen each time the game is paused, allowing you to carefully choose when and how you want certain actions to play out.
Broken Lines’ story campaign can be played over a series of missions. You wont be able to go back to play the other missions you chose to skip which adds replayability to the campaign as there are unique story revelations and rewards for completing different missions.
Throughout the campaign, players will have to manage the morale of their squad and individual units. Once morale reaches zero, soldiers will leave the team and won’t be available. Players are able to restart missions altogether or from mission checkpoints, but they will lose squad morale every time they do it, incentivising strategy, planning and decision making.
Each mission consists of a series of turns where players program their orders for squad units and then let the turn play out over eight seconds. The general objective in each mission is to reach a goal marker while eliminating enemies along the way. If a squad unit detects or eliminates enemy units, the turn will end right away and your orders can be modified.
In between missions, players can heal and re-equip any of the eight available characters. The game also features a permadeath system, which means that once a squad mate dies, players will have to shift the duties and combat roles of fallen soldiers to other units.
The pause-and-play mechanic is intriguing and turn-based tactical fights are sure to excite and keep you on your toes. It manages to entertain you during its short campaign, offers replayability and brings back memories of Company of Heroes and Commandos games.
Broken Lines is available on Steam now.