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The Breach channels Returnal and Control via 1970s sci-fi in a fast and unforgiving RPG perfect for Mothership fans

Travel to parallel worlds - and try to make it back alive.

Image credit: Need Games

A sci-fi tabletop RPG inspired by the retro-futuristic stories of the seventies has been given an English-language release. The Breach melds together the punishing run-based feel of Returnal, the mysterious corporate conspiracy of Control and the unforgiving space-horror of Mothership.

The Breach throws its players’ Watchers - interdimensional researchers tasked with gathering data - through portals to different worlds known as Paradoxes, where they must survive long enough (helped by their protective suit, a Cloak) to complete their mission, from eliminating hostile lifeforms to discovering secret information, before making it back to their hub of the Bastion in one piece.

Fabula Ultima is awarded People's Choice at the 2023 Tabletop AwardsWatch on YouTube

Powering the RPG’s fast-paced gameplay and episodic structure is the Breathless system created by designer René-Pier Deshaies for the game of the same name, using the full spread of polyhedral dice from d4 to d12. As players roll to overcome physical and psychological tests, the die they roll gradually reduces in size, reflecting their ongoing endurance and exhaustion.

The mission-based structure of The Breach as players depart from their safe hub to complete a given objective and then return reminded me of the roguelite gameplay of video game Returnal - with the randomised creation of Paradoxes by the GM also adding to the parallel.

The game’s lore - centred around the efforts of the mysterious Ministry of Culture and Science, which has formed its own cut-off dictatorial society in the Bastion called The Enlightened Confederacy - and focus on investigating strange interdimensional occurrences brings to mind Control, from Alan Wake developer Remedy. Designer Matteo Sciutteri, meanwhile, directly cites 1950s and 1970s sci-fi novels as a key inspiration on the game’s retro-futuristic setting, with the book itself styled like a forgotten artefact of the time - complete with worn-away price sticker on the cover.

The brutal difficulty and dark atmosphere of beloved sci-fi-horror RPG Mothership - likewise acknowledged by Sciutteri as a major inspiration - also threads its way through The Breach, with players making reaction rolls as they encounter threats during their explorations using the simple ruleset.

With Sciutteri having first released an early edition of The Breach in 2022, Italian publisher Need Games, which published the Final Fantasy-inspired Fabula Ultima last year - and went on to win our own People’s Choice accolade at the Tabletop Awards - has since picked up the game for a full English physical release. After a limited release at last year’s US convention Gen Con over the summer, the print book and PDF are now available via the likes of DriveThruRPG.

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