From the Danish studio, PortaPlay, comes Broken Lines, an interesting turn-based time-based strategy game. You landed on an unknown and hostile territory after your plane crash, and you have to recover your military squad members and figure out what happened while you survive on your journey.
Strategy on times of war
On Broken Lines’ main campaign, you play as a lost military squadron in an enemy country, after a plane accident. First, you will look for the other members. Then, you will investigate if there are other survivors or orders, and, without knowledge of the current situation, you will encounter stranger enemies. Also, you will meet some allies too.
On the second campaign, the most recent, The Dead and the Drunk, you play as your squadron in the same enemy country, but things start and develop differently. One of your local allies, Izkor, informs you that the dead comes to life as undead, and they are spreading along all the country. You decide to investigate it, with surprising and funny results.
Both campaigns are independent, and they have some unique mechanics, making them enjoyable to play. Static images and dialogues narrate the stories, with characters designed with comic style, and a good load of jokes, making their development enjoyable.
Surviving on a hostile territory
The battle system is turn-based and time-based. You start the turns in pause for deciding your team actions. Each action takes several seconds, and every turn last eight seconds, with a pause every four seconds, except if you encounter enemies, where the game pauses immediately to planning your imminent battle. You won’t see the enemies until you have them near enough, so establishing your route will be an important part of your strategy.
Along the territory there are covers, they are breakable, but you have to use them to avoid enemy fire, and take advantage in the fight. During the battle, the enemies will use them and will move too, so you will have to plan every turn to survive without casualties. Height and positioning will influence the outcome of the battles. If you are in an elevated position, you will have better accuracy percentages, and you will cause more damage, and, of course, if you are under the enemy placement, you will have problems.
Each character has a role in battle (like medic, heavy infantry or sniper), but you can customize your characters’ abilities. The majority of the skills have a limited number of uses, but a few are unlimited. Every character starts with a passive skill; you will unlock more during the story, which applies to their fight behaviour. For example, Fry is better if it’s not on the enemy range or Conner works better if she is alone. Also, you will obtain new active skills after complete missions, and you can put them on every member of your squadron, but beware, you can assign them just one time. If you put it on a character, and then you remove it, you will lose it. This adds more strategy to the game.
After every mission, you will get a score rank, based on the time needed to complete it, the number of enemy casualties and the ones in your team. You will receive a better reward if you get a Gold Rank. Rewards are skills, supplies and scrap, the in-game currency, which you can use on Izkor’s shop.
Squad management and relationships
Between missions, you can manage your squad equipment, skills and relationships at camp. Also, you can consult the story of each character, their relationships and their mood. You can renew your equipment by buying it in Izkor’s shop, where, in exchange for scraps, you buy new weapons, skills or supplies. You can compare your current equipment with the ones in the shop, helping to decide which one to buy. Furthermore, you can buy items that will give you new skills to your members, like different kinds of grenades or bandages.
You have a poise gauge for each teammate, if it’s emptied, your companion will desert, leaving you with one effective less. To avoid this, you have to get enough supplies. Each character consumes one supply after stage, if you have less than the required, their mood will worse. You will obtain supplies at the shop or in chests during missions. On the Dead and the Drunk, this mechanic change a little, the gauge will be the blood thirst, and you have to serve alcoholic drinks to your team to fill it. And, of course, if they are not enough drunk (yes, you read well xD), they will leave your squad too.
After completing the missions, you will obtain new skills, you can equip them on any character, but they are one-time use, so you have to be careful when you choose which soldier will learn it. Also, you can get skills from random events. Between missions, some random events will happen on the map, and they can have a positive or negative impact on your team, depending on your choice during their development.
Relationships are an interesting mechanic. You will start with some characters having a good relationship with their mates, and a bad one with others. For example, Conner has a good relation with Hailey but has a bad relationship with King. This will influence your battles performance, if in your squad, you have two characters together attacking the enemy, they will have better combat. This relationship can change during random events, depending on your selections, and sometimes they will give you new passive skills.
Finally, your team members can die during missions. Before dying, they will have a wounded mark, if they die again, you will lose them forever, impacting negatively on your squad mood.
Graphics, Soundtrack & Score
Graphically, this game has a cartoonish style. The soldier models are OK, but the avatars and the story remembers a comic. The soundtrack is great, will accompany you during your adventure, and if fits well in a game based on war. During the story and random events, humour is always present, especially on the Dead and the Drunk, making the story more enjoyable. The game is in several languages, and it has steam achievements.
Overall: 8. Broken Lines is a turn-based and time-based strategy game with a few RPG components, a cartoonish style and an important sense of humour, resulting in a solid and enjoyable experience. The battle system can be a little complicated because is not the standard one on a turn-based game, but you will probably like it. Recommendable