I was lucky enough to try this original tactical turn-based game set in Eastern Europe during World War II, full of style, roguelike elements and a compelling story inspired by titles like Frozen Synapse, X-Com and Banner Saga.
You control a squad of reserves on a covert operation, stuck behind enemy lines, without Intel or orders. Under fire from unknown enemies and hopelessly lost in a fog-engulfed valley, they have to figure out how to survive while fighting amongst themselves. You control the outcome of their story, how they plan each battle, conduct themselves and cope as a group in spite of their differences.
Let’s start by saying that Broken Lines does not use the classic turn-based mechanics but instead turn-based planning with simultaneous execution. This allows us to plan soldiers’ moves (moves that last in seconds) and then see them in action at the same time as those of the enemies.
The tested build begins with an intro that tells us about a plane who crashes into a territory that was supposedly neutral. From here we will take control of one of the soldiers who survived the crash.
In the early stages thanks to tutorial windows we will acquire the basic concepts and mechanics of the game.
Plan the moves
We will see immediately how to plan the actions and movements of the soldiers during the planning phase. Each soldier can reach a certain point by choosing from 3 move stances that have different speed; run towards a cover by attracting more enemy fire, walking and shooting or kneeling in order to be more difficult to hit.
For each soldier we can plan more moves to be performed obviously in a predetermined order, we can tell him to reach a cover, wait a few seconds, and then proceed to throw a grenade for example, rather than offering cover fire to a moving ally.
Once the strategy and actions are planned it will be time to press play and see what happens in those seconds, how our soldiers will react and what the enemies’ counter-moves will be, during these 8 seconds we can’t stop time and change actions.
We can’t choose who our soldiers will shoot at, they will choose the most likely target to hit by themselves.
At the end of each mission, we receive a score depending on the time taken to complete a mission and the casualties suffered. Between one mission and another, we will manage our soldiers, equipping them with primary, secondary weapons and skills.
Classes & abilities
Every soldier has his abilities and traits that we will have to use properly to complete missions without casualties. Grenade launches, suppression fire and use of med-kits are just some of the skills available.
The soldiers class are determined according to the weapon that they hold. This applies to our soldiers and also to our enemies.
- Soldiers with rifles (more efficient from long range)
- Soldiers equipped with sub-machine guns. (low aim, but with suppressing abilities to allow strategic flanking movements.)
- Then there are the soldiers with shotguns. (excellent in close encounters.)
Every soldier has a health bar and a stress bar. When the health bar goes down and the tress one rises, there will be consequences that will affect the accuracy of the soldiers and their courage in battle.
Non-linear story and events
Another element that I liked, is the personality of the different soldiers and the way they interact with the events that happen to them. These episodes are told in a cool comics style.
Broken Lines promises to be a game with a non-linear story that will present events that will change according to our choices, which will guarantee excellent longevity.
- Rich, atmospheric non-linear story and events.
- Rogue-Like campaign structure with resources, game over and permadeath.
- Squad of Individual soldiers with unique personal story-arcs.
- Multiple narrative endings directed by the player’s choices.
- Complete the campaign to unlock hidden content for your next playthroughs.
- Replay to experience new missions, weapons, enemies, events and stories.
Portaplay is an Indie game studio that focuses on combining involving gameplay with serious stories – inspired by real events. Introducing new ways of telling stories, new core mechanics and generally give players a unique experience. Broken Lines have been shortlisted to numerous awards and won several, e.g. best strategy game at Dreamhack Atlanta.
Release date & platform
Broken Lines is certainly one of the most promising tactical turn-based game in development. Its release will be around Q1 / Q 2020 for PC and Switch initially.