There’s a knack to creating the perfect combination; Mac & cheese, The Simpsons and Family Guy, Final Fantasy and Disney. All of the aforementioned combinations work as well with each other as they do on their own. However, it is quite possible to take two separately great ideas and merge them together into a product that, at its most basic level, simply does not work. Bringing me to Breach & Clear: Deadline – a combination that, on paper, makes perfect sense, but falls far short in practice.
A spin-off from 2013’s Breach & Clear, Deadline attempts to take the series in a bold new direction, unrestricted by cramped corridors and closed in spaces. This time around you take control of a group of four troops trapped within a decaying, zombie infested city, shut off from the rest of the world. You’ll have to track down survivors and aid them as best you can, whilst wiping out the undead scourge – all in the hopes of being exfiltrated by your army comrades outside the city.
The game opens in a laboratory, where you’ve been called in to investigate explosions and rescue any survivors, but it quickly becomes clear that there are unnatural forces at play. Vile creatures have taken over the laboratory, forcing you and your team to beat a hasty retreat. Once you have made it out into the open world, Breach & Clear: Deadline takes a sharp turn from tactical squad shooter, into squad-based action RPG territory. Now you are free to roam the map to look for people to save, missions to take on and zombies to kill.
In a further departure from the series’ roots, you can control each character individually, such as you would in a twin stick shooter. This new sense of freedom is at odds with the game’s tactical leanings, but proves to be a good fall back when your tactics have failed.
Early on in the game your squad finds a base camp set up by survivors, and from here you’ll be able to accept new missions, upgrade gear and craft new weapons. Missions are usually “fetch” in nature, where you’ll be asked to go out into the world to recover more supplies for the camp. The missions themselves are fine, if a little cliché, but its Breach & Clear: Deadline’s combat that truly leaves me scratching my head.
The game is absolutely at odds with itself. It tries to set a creepy, foreboding tone, meanwhile arming your squad to the teeth with an assortment of weapons, explosives and perks. Non-human enemies are usually slow and pose no real threat from a distance, meaning you can quite happily set your squad up in safe positions and let them plug away. When things get tough you can take direct control of a squad member and go to town on them with a shotgun or rifle, making light work of the enemy. There’s no real challenge to the combat. The game lazily tries to make up for this by sending wave after wave of enemies after you, but the high elasticity of your squad means you’ll usually be able to work your way out of a bind.
Admittedly Breach & Clear: Deadline is quite well put together, and on a technical level it ticks all the boxes that it needs to, to make a serviceable product, but its core concept just doesn’t make any sense. It’s two themes don’t fit together well, making its action sequences feel long and drawn out.
I was never quite able to get over just how incongruous a combination Breach & Clear: Deadline is. It certainly isn’t a bad game, it just isn’t that much fun, and lacks the suspense that it tries so badly to evoke. If you’re not a fan of the series there’s no reason to buy this.