Breach and Clear: Deadline is a hybrid of twin-stick shooter and turn-based strategy. But while you must control a modern military squad of four special ops using real-world tactics, Deadline adds zombies - just to mix things up.
Shoot and Plan
Breach and Clear: Deadline’s blend of gameplay sound like it could quickly become complicated, but it manages to keep things intuitive. Exploring the open-world you have real-time control over a single squad member, with the rest of your team dutifully following. This all controls like a twin-stick shooter – though the realistic movement speed makes it feel less snappy than arcade titles.
With a single tap of a button you can pause the action and shift to a tactical mode - similar to XCOM. Here you can set way-points and direct teammates without any time pressures. Removing the immediate threat allows you to plan, plotting each characters’ path, their tactics, and making considered use of their abilities and items.
Holding down the trigger button will then advance time – with the speed dictated by how far down the trigger is held. Actions play out synchronously, and plans can be stopped at any point and redirected. So, if you have sent in a shotgun wielder to take out a band of walkers and are surprised by a spitting beast, you can instantly retreat.
Every control method allows you to switch between squad members on the fly, plus bring up tactical and item menus at the press of a button.
You don’t have to pick between play modes. Setting up the team's tactics and then directly controlling one to go in guns blazing, is full supported. Indeed this is my go to choice – though it rarely proves to be the wisest option.
Change and Upgrade
Each member of your team fits into one of the game’s unit types - and from heavy weapons expert to medic, everyone has their own upgrade tree. Some of these skills are available across multiple classes – such as increased health – while others are more specific, meaning squad selection can make a huge difference. A medic, for example, can use a defibrillator to revive downed squad member with more health than other classes - vital in the later game.
While each member starts with specific equipment and skills, both can be changed. After finding the powerful LMG, for example, it makes sense to equip it and then try to spec the character’s skills towards using it effectively. Weapons also offer their own upgrade options, with collected scrap and upgrade items used to improve them.
This all makes Breach and Clear: Deadline incredibly satisfying both in planning strategies and in the moment to moment tactics and action. The developers clearly poured a lot of effort into ensuring the range of monsters – be they undead or human – provide an ever changing challenge.
But the same care does not seem to have been given the technical aspects. Functional graphics recreate the world well, but in most situations flat textures and angular geometry make it feel lifeless. Also, on our test machine, we had issues with save files, crashes, and the game failing to launch - all drastically slowing our progress and enjoyment.
Fantastic and Frustrations
There is a lot of depth and gameplay flexibility in Breach and Clear: Deadline. The mix of enemy types, which range from undead monsters to monstrous survivors, only add to this ensuring you can never fall into a rut with your tactics or character loadout. Technical issues may frustrate, but the core gameplay is fantastic and just as deep as others in the genre.