Broken Lines: Overview
It's easy to miss Broken Lines among the wide variety of dozens of video games coming out weekly - at first glance, this is just another tactical strategy on the theme of World War II. How many there were and how many will not be counted. But in this case, we have a pleasant exception to the rule: developers from the Danish studio PortaPlay have found something to surprise both sophisticated strategists and those who appreciate an interesting plot and non-linear narrative. The presentation of this game was on the site https://www.friv5online.com/escape-games
Late at night, the landing force of the Allied army is heading for an important mission behind the front line somewhere in Eastern Europe. The war, as always, is full of accidents, for the most part not entirely pleasant, therefore it is not surprising that not all planes get to the landing point. After the night crash, only a few soldiers who escaped death were able to get together. The troubles do not end there: this scattered handful of the most diverse in character people does not have a commander who would take control and be able to carry out the combat mission - no one canceled the order, no matter what.
The player will become something like this commander himself - he takes on the management of both the actions of the soldiers during the battles and their relationships at short night breaks, when one inadvertently abandoned phrase of one of the fighters can jeopardize the morale of the entire squad . In addition, the soldiers gradually begin to notice that events are taking place around that are not quite typical even of a wartime event rich in all kinds of unpleasant surprises.
Instead of the German troops - incomprehensible soldiers who are dressed in protective equipment, including a gas mask covering his entire face. They guard strange structures, obviously related to the fog spreading over the terrain. This substance obviously does not add health to both the animals and the paratroopers themselves, some of whom feel worse and worse. Fortunately, they quickly manage to establish contact with civilians, one of whom agrees to help the detachment by exchanging trophies obtained in battles for supplies or equipment.
The closer the paratroopers are to the task, the more questions arise to what exactly happened in this unnamed country. Who are our opponents and why do they never take off gas masks, as if stuck to their faces? Where did the poison fog come from? Is it necessary to destroy those strange mechanisms, next to which its concentration is highest? Move towards the goal, no matter what, or try as much as possible to help the civilian population?
Understatement is present until the last moment. Even reaching one of the endings, it is unlikely to be able to get a complete picture of what happened. This is only a plus - the plot is intriguing, so the need to go through the game several times with different results does not scare you at all, since the campaign here is quite short. In addition, non-linearity in Broken Lines is expressed not only in the presence of several finals. For example, each game day we have a choice between several missions, the implementation of each of which may affect the further passage. Well, conversations and random events, which also make it possible to better understand what is happening, are clearly more than can be seen in one race.
“Tactical strategy with emphasis on the plot” - brings to mind the well-known joke about the guinea pig, which, as you know, is unlike a pig and has nothing to do with the sea. Not this time: in Broken Lines, everything is in order and with the main component of the gameplay - tactical battles.
Representatives of this genre can be divided into real-time tactics and turn-based tactics, but they use slightly different control principles, familiar from ALFA: Anti-Terror and Frozen Synapse . During a pause, the player distributes orders to subordinates, and then for some time only observes their implementation without the ability to intervene. Here, such an active phase lasts only eight seconds, but even in such a short period of time a lot of events can fit.
Each character can have both unique skills that open during random events in between missions, and acquired ones - the player himself distributes them among the squad members.
What pleases, the main signs of good tactics are evident, whether it is the use of shelters, detours from the rear and flanks, fire to suppress or the influence of the spirit on combat effectiveness. Do not be fooled by the unpretentious appearance, in fact, everything is “like in adults” - throwing grenades, sniper shots, changing positions and speed, first-aid kits, not to mention such trifles as a variety of weapons (and the enemies number) and disguise. There is even such an exotic thing as the influence of squad coherence on self-control - you immediately recall those conversations at the halt before each mission, as a result of which the soldiers can make friends or quarrel.
Separately, I note a very convenient control: after evaluating not the best graphics and a schematic interface, I managed to mentally prepare for the fact that the process of commanding a detachment on the battlefield would be a match for them, but here I had a pleasant surprise. With the help of several "hotkeys", which are always at hand, and a few clicks of the mouse, you can give out all the necessary orders in just a couple of seconds. The main thing is not to be too lazy to undergo training, which explains several not the most obvious points.
Claims, and even those small ones, remain only to balance and complexity. The ability to suppress fire with submachine guns is too good for opponents, allowing you to not really worry about using other tactics. If you choose the average level of complexity recommended by the developers and do not disdain the constant use of this skill, then you begin to feel some kind of challenge to your tactical abilities only closer to the end of the campaign, when the enemies take in numbers and especially dangerous units appear among them, like a tank or a gun.
Despite the fact that Broken Lines is designed for more than one pass, it can hardly be called replayable in the sense in which this word is applicable to tactical strategies. It’s impossible to come up with interesting builds for characters due to a large element of randomness in the process of acquiring skills and equipment (the latter still does not shine with variety), and the emphasis on history is noticed with the naked eye. Fortunately, all this does not prejudice the gameplay.
Go through the campaign several times to get all the endings - yes; returning to it again and again, as is the case with the XCOM and Jagged Alliance series , is definitely not. But that doesn't make Broken Linesa bad game - it's just different. The developers coped with the task of creating an interesting story and an intriguing atmosphere of a gloomy riddle, which is not quite familiar for strategies about the war.
Pros: convenient control; intriguing plot; interesting tactical battles.
Cons: plain graphics; mean voice acting.
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