Why playing Into The Breach makes you history’s greatest monster


Did you win outright, for all four islands and without a single lost building the first ever time you played Into The Breach? No? Well, did you play again afterwards? If you did, you’re the most genocidal maniac humanity has ever known.

I’ve spent at least two sleepless nights trying to get my head around the moral implications of Into The Breach’s time travel. There’s been a great deal of talk, including in my own Into The Breach review, about its faultless tactical elegance and razor-sharp design, but not much about its plot – which is quite likely down to the deft minimalism with which it’s told. Almost nothing happens outside of brief lines of dialogue in which every character involved seems to totally know the score or already, and it’s presumed that you, the unseen mech commander, do too.

But, during play, short comments create dark implications that spread backwards through your past attempts at the game like a stain. The scattered remnants of an already-decimated future humanity are threatened by the Vek, giant alien bugs from God knows where, and their only hope lies with an even smaller group of human survivors from an unspecified further future.


So coy is Into The Breach about details that I’m not even sure I’ve got that right. Are the mechs from the far future, or are they from mere moments after the Earth fell, making a last-ditch jump to a few short hours earlier in the hope of preventing it? The game is admirably light on hard facts in this regard, which I will take over an earful of exposition any day. It makes me hungry to know more, in a way getting lectured by Professor Ian Science about exactly what was going on never could.

The truth is, however, that it simply doesn’t matter exactly when or where the mechs hail from. What matters is the untold tragedy caused every time they time-travel. One thing the game does tell us as a hard fact – uttered by either your pilots of the CEOs who govern each island at the conclusion of a campaign, whether you won or lost – is that every time you ‘jump’, you abandon the timeline you’re in and move to a new one. You’re not simply moving back and forth through history, but also laterally, across what would be infinite new realities – every time you move back through time, your own changes to it cause it to fork off into a parallel, rather than replacement, reality.

In terms of hooking the inherent suspension of disbelief involved in replaying or reloading a videogame, it’s an absolute doozy – a built-in excuse to try again, and again, and again, to escape the tyranny of the Game Over screen and instead combine your every experience of the game into one contiguous tale. But by God there is a darkness to it.


This is a game about saving thousands, even millions, of lives. The dark irony is that, every time you move to a new timeline by rewinding the clock, you effectively create a new copy of the human race who are, given the game’s thoughtful difficulty, more than likely doomed to suffer horribly at alien hands/mandibles. You create life in order to see it destroyed. Though, naturally, we start each new ITB campaign convinced that we’ll get it right this time. You are toying with an infinite number of lives for your own entertainment. You’re a god-damned monster, far worse than the Vek.

There’s also the thorny matter of abandonment. Fail a campaign and, on top of hundreds of thousand perishing because of all the buildings you failed to save from the bugs, you leave the entire timeline behind to die in favour of a do-over in another one. The CEOs will occasionally address this head-on, glumly accepting their fate by trying to take thin succour from the idea that a parallel them might live. It is cold comfort. I know that I have failed these people, and creating a brand new timeline with brand new copies of them is only for my benefit, not for theirs.

I’ll feel proud if I succeed next time around, but these people wouldn’t even exist if I hadn’t failed to save the last version of them, so what does it actually count for? Every new time I choose to play, I am embarking on absurdly high-stakes, wide-scale sadistic gambling, wanting to prove something to myself at the expense of lives that don’t even exist unless I make the express decision to create and then willfully endanger them.


Your monstrosity is at its absolute height if you choose to play again after a success, particularly a four-island victory in which you’ve most likely saved the vast majority of possible lives in that timeline. You’re not playing again to save more people. You’re giving it a go again, because… Well, because you want to play the brilliant videogame again, and perhaps you’ve unlocked a new mech squad or pilot that you want to try out, or perhaps you’re hoping to unlock another one still.

There are few feints made towards the idea that, doing it all again with the accumulated knowledge of your past experiences, you might be able to save even more lives this time around, but it doesn’t change this dark element of creating lives in order to then put them in peril. (You’re also depriving the survivors of the successful timeline of your presumably much-needed help in the rebuild effort, but there we venture once again into the wild woods of when, exactly, the mechs and their pilots come from, and whether or not the timeline has its own contemporaneous fleet of mechs up in the sky somewhere).


And, holy god, the abyssal implications of using the ‘reset turn’ button you’re allowed to press once per battle. It scans like a simple rewind, but going on ITB’s scant time-rules, what’s really happening is you jump backwards by a few minutes and then proceed down a slightly different path than before, thus creating yet another time-fork and leaving the one you’d just been trying to save entirely unprotected. “I damn you all because I didn’t like my mistake” is the message.

This is one reason why I’ve stopped using the pilot Isaac Jones, with his magical two-reset special ability. I’m doubling up the horror if I do. (The other reason is that I’ve gotten much better at the game, which means a) I need resets less often and b) I now know how to take full advantage of the more tactical, non-time-wimey special abilities of other pilots). Every time I failed, every time I reset, and even every time I won, my hands became soaked in newly-created blood I can never wash off.


Don’t let me be misunderstood: I think all of this is brilliant. It’s brilliant because it’s causing me to hesitate, and analyse, and feel terrible remorse, and unlike those vast legions of emotionally-manipulative texts in popular entertainment it’s doing all that without ever telling me to. It’s also driving me to pursue perfection not for bragging rights or unlocks, but because of how guilt-stricken I feel every time a building falls, and all those lives are lost with it, and it’s my fault, and I can never bring them back no matter how much I try to be Sam Beckett.

This hits even harder in terms of my own pilots. Win or lose, you get to select one of your three mech pilots (if any still live by that point) to jump with you into the next timeline – which means that the other two (if they still live by that point) are abandoned in whichever hellscape you bail out on.

And, when you ‘return’ to the future and choose old allies to join you for your next attempt, what you’ve actually done is spawn new copies of them, who you may then cause to die or also face exile to the apocalypse. On the other hand, when you jump on from a successful campaign/timeline, the other two pilots are presumably being rewarded with a lifetime of peace while you and your lead pilot are doomed to endless war.

Some of the pilots make occasional references to allegiances or family or anxieties from earlier in their lives. The truth is that none of the people they care about are ever accessible to them any more, not as soon as they move to a new timeline for the first time. Is their complicity in birthing endless parallel timelines containing perfect copies of those lost and very probably dead people a noble act, or is it ongoing genocide in the name of self-indulgence?

My head has been polluted with these worries for days now, and the mounting sense that, every time I play, I become more monstrous. Bar an occasional one-line aside from a pilot, the game’s few words did not ask that I feel that way. I love it for it.


  1. KDR_11k says:

    So you assume that the timeline doesn’t split until you arrive, as opposed to it already existing before? I’d think that the timeline is already there and headed for doom if you don’t show up and save them.

    And when you rewind there’s still the other you that’s in the other timeline that didn’t rewind. Maybe he’ll fare better?

    If we go by the branch-on-every-decision model of timelines then from any timeline you start to influence there are an infinite number of timelines that you defended successfully and an even larger infinite number of timelines that you failed to defend.

    You can play Zero Time Dilemma if you want a story written around the concept of branching timelines.

    • Dewal says:

      I feel this way too.
      You could be from a timeline that survived the invasion and jump into other ones to try to save them too. But you get only one shot at this, so when you fail they all die (and when you save a timeline you save billions – not millions – of people, it’s written in the credits !).

    • Shadow says:

      If you think about it, there’s plenty of reason for the game to just not exist.

      Earth has fallen, and you can go back in time in order to save another timeline. But why? You’ll never save those who perished in your own, and trying to save another timeline means taking on the huge risk that you fail and billions more die.

      And if we follow the implications of quantum theory the game’s lore seems to be based upon, there could be an infinite number of timelines where anything and everything can happen, and it’s simply a fool’s errand to try and save them all. Even if you never fail, there is no end. You could save trillions upon trillions, but there would be an infinite number of people left to save elsewhere.

      So it’s not quite that the game makes you a monster, but rather that it places you in an impossible situation in which there can be no favourable outcome other than just accept your timeline’s fate and refuse to time travel.

      • Kitsunin says:

        But that isn’t a favorable option. Depending on your ethical beliefs, it’s at best completely equal to helping another timeline.

        • cpt_freakout says:

          It is, but it launches a war that never, ever ends. Like other commenters I also think that you jump into timelines that already exist, but those timelines are infinite. This would mean you’re not a monster, you’re Don Quijote, fighting endlessly against the sea: your war makes absolute sense, to the point of being a moral imperative (to some), but simultaneously, it’s pointless because it will never, ever come to completion. I wouldn’t say it’s a nihilistic game, but it is bleak, and I’d describe its tone and theme as perfectly coherent with tragedy, as it treats heroics and sacrifice as both necessary and unnecessary, as rewarding as they are senseless. Resist fate all you want, but it will always destroy you in the end, whether by letting you ‘win’ (hey, I saved a timeline! On to the next!) or by making you ‘lose’. In other words, winning is just as good/bad as losing.

          • abnotwhmoanny says:

            You have to keep in mind the nature of infinity. If the liklyhood of a timeline going on to create a force of timetravelling warriors is 1% then you have a 1% magnitude infinite number of time travelling warriors. In that case, each group only needs to visit 100 timelines to have effectively visited all of the infinite timelines.

            Now if the likelyhood of such a squad forming is 0.0000001% instead then you would need to visit 10000000 timelines each to attempt to save them all. There’s no real way of any given squad to know how many others might exist, or if any do. All they can really know is that they can potentially save billions of lives if they jump again, so they do. Maybe it works out. Maybe it doesn’t.

  2. e102 says:

    I think there are two possible scenarios.

    Scenario 1: The timelines already exist before you enter. You not entering them would mean that the humanity had no chance of survival. By entering, you potentially save billions of lives.

    Scenario 2: The timelines come into existence when you enter them. Even assuming there’s a 90% chance you fail and humanity dies, that still means a 10% chance of a whole universe filled with human beings living lives filled with meaning. Even if your chance of success was 0%, I’d still say that having lived and then dying is better than never having lived at all.

    Either way I look at it, the protagonists are doing good.

    • Don Reba says:

      Moreover, who knows how many other sentient worlds each timeline gives life to.

    • Soyweiser says:

      Scenario 3, you are not the only group doing the timeline jumping. If jumping is possible, people could always jump out of a failed timeline on mass, or if they discover how to totally defeat the enemy jump back to help all failed timelines.

      Also, is it given the other pilots die? We know that timeline jumping is possible. And all pilots have the same knowledge after a battle. Jumping them all to the same timeline makes no sense. (You leave one timeline to try and save the next). By jumping them to different timelines you can use one timeline to save up to 3 others. (which is a good deal, if there are infinite timelines).

      So if you win all three pilots jump to different timelines. So they can save 3 more.

      (I have not played the game, so not sure if this is option is explained away, but if it isn’t why did you jump to the bleakest conclusion Alec?).

      • Soyweiser says:

        And with my conclusion, by not jumping more often, you are slowing the branching rate, and thus the rate of victory in the multiverse. So by trying to not be a homicidal maniac, you doomed uncountable billions more to suffer longer than they have to.

      • Nixitur says:

        I think your Scenario 3 is pretty much confirmed by the existence of the Time Pods. They contain pilots from another timeline, so there are other mech squads through the multiverse, and they’re sending pilots back.
        That also makes me think that whether you win or lose, you are always sending back every one of your pilots. It clearly shows every one of them being warped away. They do not stay in that timeline, as Alec implies. They go back either to the start or to a Time Pod. However, you personally (whatever you are) can only follow one of them. That means that those big breaches can never keep multiple people in the same timeline.
        On the other hand, localized breaches (turn resets) allow all three to travel back simultaneously and to the same timeline. To me, that shows that it is fundamentally different from a proper breach.
        Here’s my hypothesis: While proper breaches throw everyone all across the timelines, turn resets do not result in a timeline travel at all. They actually do go back in the past, but can only travel a very short time. If they traveled across timelines, they wouldn’t end up in the same one.

  3. Seafoam says:

    I feel that when you introduce timelines into a situation then the morality of anything flies out the window, circles around the house, and comes back in trough the other window inside out.

    Win or lose, at that point it stops mattering. Might as well treat it as just a time rewind because what else are you supposed to do?

  4. Professor Bobo says:

    This article has a very “Primer” vibe to it.

  5. Xocrates says:

    I’m pretty sure I’ve had pilots mentioning not resting until “all timelines” are saved, so I always just assumed they already exist and you’re simply moving into them. – and that this was why your pilots time-jump at the end of a successful campaign.

  6. rocketman71 says:

    This hits even harder in terms of my own pilots. Win or lose, you get to select one of your three mech pilots (if any still live by that point) to jump with you into the next timeline – which means that the other two (if they still live by that point) are abandoned in whichever hellscape you bail out on.

    No, you are not abandoning them. They go to fight to other timelines. Some dialog even says it explicitly.

    Also, every timeline exists already. You are doing all you can to save as much lives as possible. But, if you want your head to hurt even more: infinite timelines exist. Infinite lives will be saved. Infinite lives will be lost. All will die in the end.

    Don’t think so much, Alec. Just enjoy this absolute gem of a game that they’ve given us.

  7. automatic says:

    The way I see, the pilots are cursed beings, damned to fight against a terrible evil for the rest of their lives. The question you must ask is: why are they doing it?

    • Excors says:

      I don’t think that’s a meaningful question in a multiverse like this. Infinitely many pilots are fighting forever, for infinitely many different reasons. Infinitely many aren’t fighting and have given up, for another infinitely many reasons.

      Instead you should ask: Why is the game letting us observe some of the pilots who are fighting forever? And that’s easy to answer – those are the fun ones.

      Although, I’m not sure why each timeline is only entered by three pilots, not by infinitely many pilots from infinitely many other timelines all choosing the same destination. (Obviously the sudden arrival of infinite mass in that timeline would cause the universe to immediately collapse into a black hole, which would be bad for the original inhabitants.)

      • automatic says:

        Yes, ofc the game protagonists are the versions of the pilots that are still fighting. Regardless, why THOSE pilots are forever fighting even though they know it doesn’t matter if they win, there will always be a universe where they lose? Are they perfectionists that want a universe where they make 0 mistakes? Are they guilty because they feel responsible somehow? Are they in search of revenge? Are they just machines programmed to fight forever for as long as they exist? I think all those questions are left unanswered because they relate to the reasons people play the game aswell. Alec for instance is guilty because of the lifes lost. I just like blowing bugs brains out. But tbh I played so much already I’m a bit sick of it.

        • Nixitur says:

          Regardless, why THOSE pilots are forever fighting even though they know it doesn’t matter if they win, there will always be a universe where they lose? Are they perfectionists that want a universe where they make 0 mistakes? Are they guilty because they feel responsible somehow? Are they in search of revenge? Are they just machines programmed to fight forever for as long as they exist?

          You might enjoy [Steam Directory]\steamapps\common\Into the Breach\scripts\personalities\pilots.csv. It’s clearly not meant for players’ eyes, but it does contain quite a bit of backstory for all the pilots.

    • baud001 says:

      What can change the nature of a man?


    • Scrofa says:

      It’s obvious. They want golden medals!

  8. Rane2k says:

    Disclaimer: I have not played the game (yet).

    If you are buying into the idea that jumping into another timeline creates a new branch, then I would say you are not a genocidal monster, instead you are a creator.
    You create a new mankind (which might or might not be destroyed in this timeline), but you also create the rest of the universe.
    If more than 50% of the universe is, for lack of a better word, happy, then you are doing good.

    This includes the bugs by the way, in case mankind is destroyed you have created a positive timeline for the bugs. (I don´t know if they are portrayed as some kind of “chaotic evil”, or if they are invading for reasons of their own survival, as I haven´t played the game yet)

    Edit: Oh, and great article by the way, I like thinking about such things. :)

  9. Xelias says:

    When ever you join a “new” timeline, the timeline is different from the one you came from, subtle differences that changed it (different island, Vek, etcs) YOU are not creating a copy by jumping to a new timeline, you have an infinite realm of realities in front of you and simply decide to help one, unable to do so, you go through another timeline, hoping to save that one.

    and the interesting thing is : When you do save a timeline, your hero, exhausted declares something like “This one is saved, let’s save the next one too”

    they are doomed hero. they aren’t contempt by saving one timeline : They are ready to for ever try and save as many timeline, as many people as possible. even though the task is by the very definition infinite and impossible.

    The real crime is if you stop playing. it means you forfeit the lives of all the timelines you didn’t even tried to save.

  10. epmode says:

    Alec, you should play Soma. It deals directly with this whole parallel universe thing. And yes, it’s just as unsettling as what’s implied here.

    • Seafoam says:

      Uh, no?
      I’m sorry but I think you got the wrong game.

      • automatic says:


        The guy from Soma already lost everything he knew and loved and yet he had the chance to save the existence from the last people on Earth in a virtual reality. There’s the question of whether virtual existence is real or not but still…

        • Seafoam says:

          Well that ain’t parallel universes. More like what does it mean to exist in general.
          And it’s less about saving humanity but instead leaving a relic of humanity with a copy of you on board.

          • automatic says:

            That copy is you in an alternative universe. The question Soma puts for the player is if it’s worth to have that copy. Making that copy is saving a universe though, regardless if it’s a “fake” universe or not. Remember that the protagonist himself is another copy of a person that died ages ago. Even more realistic than multi-dimensional time travel if you ask me.

  11. Revolver Rossalot says:

    In the context of this reading of the game, I’d be interested in your thoughts on the ‘victory breach’ that pilots take. As the Renfield bomb is primed to blow, your surviving pilots share a heartfelt farewell before scattering to the temporal winds purely as an alternative to hot fiery death.

    (Mostly, I feel sorry for the pilot scripted to speak third. By that point their temporary comrades have already activated breach protocols and bailed from the converstation.)

  12. Tony M says:

    Some of the dialogue after you win a game makes me think that all three pilots are travelling on to new timelines. You are just choosing one traveller to “follow” to their new timeline.

    And I felt that guilt when I was abandoning timelines rapidly to chase quick achievements. Good luck with that Vek invasion guys, I got what I came here for!

  13. Henas says:

    “And, when you ‘return’ to the future and choose old allies to join you for your next attempt, what you’ve actually done is spawn new copies of them”

    Wait, you can choose more than one pilot at the start of the game? So you can run with three unlocked elite pilots with special abilities? How does one do this?

    In relation to time travel and alternative timelines, too many paradoxes and other things to do your head in. Also where do the time pods come from? I assumed when I read about that feature that you, the player, would choose to send these into other timelines. So instead of donating extra pilots, weapons etc to the corps you could send them into alternate timelines as time pods.

    • Henas says:

      Oh damn, block quote fail. What happened to the edit button? Where’s my reset?!

      Time to abandon this comment to the Vek.

      • Darloth says:

        You waited too long to activate the breach-editing protocol, and now it is lost forever. Like the rest of this comment thread, and myself.

        Also, you’ll probably never read this comment (both fictionally and quite probably actually, since RPS does not seem to do comment notify) and I will likely not return either. The only ones to see our eternal doomed suffering will be those who come later.

        This analogy works far, far too well, I think you’ve just discovered that the RPS comment section is and always has been an eternal well of time-looped suffering. Well done.

  14. Edgewise says:

    You’re not creating new timelines. That doesn’t make sense…from a fourth dimensional perspective, all this must already exist for you to travel down it. The whole reason that you are skipping between timelines is because you can’t change the past. Otherwise, you’d just travel back in time, right? All of this suggests that the “time tree” is effectively immutable.

    What you’re doing is neither creating new worlds nor condemning anyone to death. All you’re doing is finding the timeline in which you win. After all, that’s all you can do.

    The reasoning behind this is that any sort of nondeterministic effect must produce multiple timelines. To not do so is to defy nondeterminism because, from a fourth dimensional perspective, only one outcome is the “real” one. Which means it was never really nondeterministic because the other possibilities were never truly possible.

    If I sound like a rambling internet nutter, it’s only because the human brain is not well-suited to framing these topics. I’m really quite sane!

    • mlj11 says:

      you’d just travel back in time, right?

      Hmm. Isn’t that exactly what you’re doing if you choose to ‘reset turn’?

      • Edgewise says:

        Yes, you’re going back, but you will diverge immediately from the prior timeline.

  15. bran479 says:

    Quick questions:

    Is in to the breach repayable?
    Different levels depending on play though?

    • Don Reba says:

      Very replayable. Same as FTL.

    • Archonsod says:

      The missions in each campaign are random, so yes. On the other hand there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of them for it to cycle through so it really boils down to a lot of protect X/kill Y style missions with randomised maps.
      Personally I found it somewhat lacking in content and was done after an hour or two; YMMV.

    • Xocrates says:

      The game is not only very replayable, but designed specifically to be replayed.

      It has very limited content when starting out however, since you’re limited to one mech team and one starting island. However once you start unlocking stuff (which should happen quickly) you end up with:

      – 8 mech teams each with different playstyles and abilities (plus an extra one if you get all achievements).
      – Amounting to 24 different mechs which can be used in random and custom teams.
      – 4 different islands with random missions, maps, and enemies, each with a different tileset and gimmick, which can be played in any order.
      – 13 possible starting pilots, each with a different ability (plus a few more secret ones)
      – Not to mention all the random equipment that you can buy during each campaign.

      As a point of reference, I’ve so far logged 26 hours in the game, accounting for 36 different playthroughs and there is content I’ve barely touched.

  16. Premium User Badge

    alison says:

    This is not my style of game and I’ll probably never buy it, but I am thoroughly enjoying the articles. Cheers!

  17. ninjez says:

    I can strongly recommend reading Dark Matter by Blake Crouch for anyone who wants brain fuel for considering what an infinite parallel multiverse could mean.

    I have a vision of this threshold in the timeline – the furthest extent the time machines can reach back – and the infinite bifurcation of possible realities that explode out of it. So many of them see the extinction of mankind, or see humanity crippled by near extinction, but there are infinite branches, infinite realities where mankind survives and progresses, builds the time machine and breaches back to the singularity with yet another iteration of the time travelling heroes.

    Infinite soldiers from infinite infinitely varying worlds, scattering through infinitely recursing realities. Some would loop, jumping back again and again in a never-ending crusade against the Vek, others would fall or give up the fight – it wouldn’t matter, because the multiverse is infinite.

    What does a timeline matter when you can leave it and search for another, more hopeful one? What does it mean for your sense of humanity when you know you can step into another identical world? Rick and Morty touches on this in its own way too; once you are no longer shackled to one reality everything in it can lose value, everything can be replaced, every mistake reset – and unless you are unlucky, you never have to deal with the repercussions. The only evidence is in your memories.

  18. stringerdell says:

    Jimmy Carter Simulator 2018

  19. racccoon says:

    This game has had a lot of talk I wish i could see what the fuss is as I’ve watched a lot of vids, it looks ok, but doesn’t grab me enough to plunge yet at its current price .

  20. sub-program 32 says:

    One thing not mentioned too often is the possibility of the victory explosion in the end of a successful run being the very thing that fractures the timeline, and allowing the Vek to spread to so many different timelines…

  21. allison says:

    If you enjoy horribly depressing stories about mechs fighting to save alternate realities, I recommend a little manga titled Bokurano. (The pilots are children)

  22. IonTichy says:

    Isaac shall die in every timeline of mine for being the most annoying of them all.

  23. mlj11 says:

    Whether or not new timelines – and thus, new people – are created by time travel, I think potentially saving the human species from extinction might be good enough justification for me personally.

  24. Mostquito says:

    If you create a new timeline with every new game, you are giving chance to live for 4,6 billion people (I wonder where the other 2,4 billion now existing went…), and also to their almost limitless number of children. Maybe entropy can be a danger to all of them at the end of time, but they could also be able to jump into breaches later, so every new game you win, effectively creates a possibility for infinite number of humans.
    I really do not know, how can one call this life creating wonder “monstrous”.

    Every game you lose possibly makes infinite number of Veks, but hey, genetic diversity of the multiverse is important. :)
    Also, they are not looking too “into the breach” type, so the Vek’s war is lost before it was even started.
    They are fighting against infinite number of players, that are multiplicating uncontrollably, and they are stuck into one exact space-time continuum.
    The Veks are really endangered species!
    We should make a game about their horrorful life.
    Imagine: you are a giant bug, born near a nice village full of tasty humans, and the next moment you are pulled into the lava by a giant hook. What kind of life this is?!

    • Dewal says:

      If you think multiverse-wise, the Vek are actually the winners. I’m pretty sure people loose more games than they win, so there are more universes were Veks are the only surviving species.

      Moreover, when we win, we only know we stop the earth invasion. Nothing says where the Veks come from and if there isn’t other nests among the stars.

      Still worth it to try and save a few human timelines, though.

      • Mostquito says:

        “I’m pretty sure people loose more games than they win”
        That would make an interesting statistic. I am surely winning 80% of my campaigns, and I think a person who e.g. would lose 80% would rather stop the game early, so it tough thing to decide without the exact numbers.
        ” Nothing says where the Veks come from and if there isn’t other nests among the stars”
        I am pretty sure the Veks are coming from the ground, so I do not think they are a space-faring type.
        And with the lack of Vek-technology, even one Vek-purged timeline’s humans could produce infinite number of “time-breachers” to free other timelines, but there is no way of winning for the Veks the other way around.
        I stand by my decision to declare the Veks endangered. :)

  25. ADorante says:

    Have you played Dungeon Siege: Legends of Aranna – the standalone add-on to the 1st Dungeon Siege?
    IIRC you’re a descendant of a race that killed almost everybody of another (reptiloid) race in a genocide triggering some kind of apocalypse. During your questing the game designers gave you no other options but to hack/slash the remaining survivors/progeny when you wanted to reach the story goals. In fact, if your are not fighting against critters, you’re fighting those reptiloids.
    This moral situation made me angry and I wondered if the developers were aware of the implications when they did their story layout.
    It’s a given that Dungeon Siege’s story was created when elaborate writing for simpler games wasn’t a must. I still see the approach to Legends of Aranna as lazy if not downright thoughtlessly dangerous. In comparison the moral dilemma presented by ITB as such can be considered as an artistic achievement.

  26. wraithgr says:

    Actually, I kind of did get a 4-island victory on my first run (normal). I played the end mission on my laptop and lost (so I got to see the final stage mechanics, to be fair) but some steam cloud save snafu meant I got pushed back a couple of stages when I tried to play on PC. I then ended up winning off that save. So does steam cloud overwriting the old file mean I time travelled outside the game? Did I create an alternate timeline me who had to live with the stigma of losing his first game? Or was this all just an excuse to write an article based off an interpretation of the “many worlds” time travel theory that doesn’t quite work?

  27. napoleonic says:

    “creating lives in order to then put them in peril”

    That sounds like having children. Even if you are creating the lives in the new universe, would they rather be dead than face the Vek? No. It’s better to exist in a shitty life than not to exist at all.

    • hungrycookpot says:

      Eh, depends exactly how shitty you’re talking about IMO.

  28. Ethalis says:

    As others have said before, I definitely think that you’re merely entering pre-existing timelines, not creating new ones.

    But even if that’s not the case, here’s another question for you : what price are you ready to pay for the possibility that human kind, as a species, may continue to exist even in a few timelines ?
    Let me rephrase that : the premise of the game is that in the “original” timeline, Earth is doomed, and the last few humans are going to die. That means that everytime you create a new timeline, you’re not only putting billions of people at risk, you’re also giving the human species a chance to exist in the multiverse.

  29. Helixagon says:

    Assuming this is correct (and not the “timelines already exist” theory), it raises up the moral question: do we have the right to choose somebody else’s right to exist, for them? Those survivors of the timelines you have saved, would they rather have never existed, instead?

    Sure, you create a few timelines only to let them end in doom. But even then, you could argue that it’s worth the shot.

    Reminds me of that moral dilemma in the beginning of the Witcher 3: the girl is dying. Give her a potion, and she MIGHT live, or she MIGHT die anyway and the potion will cause her death to be agonising. Which one is ‘playing God’ more: choosing to give her a chance at life, or choosing death as the right thing for her?

    A guy above me had a good point, this is similar to the dilemma of having children in a dystopian future …. or actually, just today.

    This is a fun topic, so I just wanted to present an alternate view, if you will.

    I definitely think that each pilot is headed to a different timeline at the end of a victory, and hopefully they’re all victories too!

  30. LennyLeonardo says:

    Wierd how the monsters invade in every timeline. Couldn’t they just find/make one that was nice and peaceful?

    • Ethalis says:

      It’s also weird that they go back to a period when Veks have already invaded Earth, they could potentially do a lot more by going back to just before the invasion and prepare Earth’s defences to fight them off.

      But then again I guess that in both cases there wouldn’t be a game

      • Andersonger says:

        Might be a school of time travel where one can only go back to a certain point in time (like Primer).

        Like, they activated the time travel machine a few years into the Vek invasion, and can only travel back to the time it was started.

  31. MajorLag says:

    A) If you were creating new timelines each time you breach, then your pilots would gladly die with the bomb in the final Vek hive. It make significantly more sense that these timelines already exist regardless in an infinite 4 dimensional continuum and you’re just moving between them.

    2) At the end of an unsuccessful attempt you abandon a timeline, true, but sticking around just means you’ll die with everyone else, what’s the point in that? After a success, your noble pilots engage the breach protocol and each go on to fight the Vek in another of the infinite time lines. For the people left behind, the day was merely saved or lost, but for our pilots there is only the same war over and over and over again.

    Γ) Rewind isn’t the same as breach protocol. I haven’t yet seen any dialog that hints towards how it is different in-universe, but your mechs come with you so it isn’t a normal breach. It’s possible that you don’t actually end up in a new timeline and that’s part of why it is such a limited tool.

    Finally, this is a damn good premise for a TV show. You have an excuse to hit the reset button whenever you want, you can switch up the cast at will, bring people back, have guest stars, etc. You have no need to retcon anything. And otherwise it’s about giant mechs fighting giant bugs, then jumping into new timelines and doing it all again. And the merchandising…

  32. Nickburger says:

    The thing that is hard to figure out is whether our pilots are clones:

    1) Our pilots seem to be able to reunite with the *same* pilots they fought with in previous timelines by finding time pods (or as perfect-island-completion rewards). Are these pilots just alternate timeline “clones”? I don’t thinks so. If they were “clones”, then in some timelines you could get a duplicate of your main pilot. *This never happens* (at least in any timelines I have played). Therefore, the individual pilots are unique across the multiverse.

    2) BUT – pilots can be killed in action before they jump into the breach. In later timelines I think you can reunite with these formerly deceased pilots. That means there *are* alternate timeline clones of pilots?

    I think a lot of the debate on how time works can be solved if we can figure out if Camila Vera in timeline 1 is the same Camila Vera in timeline 2.

  33. Son_of_Georg says:

    I haven’t played ITB yet, but I like how this seems to be a good commentary on how games work in general. When you reload a save, you’ve doomed your previous digital characters. When you start a new game, it’s a whole new timeline. Some characters are doomed to suffer no matter how many times you replay a game.

    • Son_of_Georg says:

      Does anyone else do this: when playing an RPG, if I need to reload (died, game crashed, etc) I always go through all the conversations with NPCs again. Sure, I know what they’re going to say, but in my mind my character hasn’t talked to those people yet in this particular timeline.

      • wraithgr says:

        Gives a new horror to “savescumming” until you get that difficult fight you are not quite high enough level to win…

      • Premium User Badge

        alison says:

        You’re not the only one. Although I’m not sure it’s a role playing thing for me so much as a fear that by not having the same conversation I did before I might be missing some important unlock that happened later as a result of the conversation.

  34. DatonKallandor says:

    The Consortium did the same thing, but put a lot more thought into it.

    And didn’t leave the guilt of the player ambigious – you are not creating timelines, you are explicitly loading into an existing parallel universe, messing it with for your own amusement and “load” to go to a different one to mess with that – abandoning the old one to keep running on without you.

    • Premium User Badge

      alison says:

      This was actually my favorite part of the whole Consortium story, and it felt glossed over in most of the reviews. It’s why I didn’t replay it after getting to the end once, because the in-game story made me feel guilty to do something the marketing copy encourages you to do. I thought that was a great trick.

  35. cpt_freakout says:

    This is brilliant stuff. This why I read RPS. Thanks :)

  36. mactenchi says:

    What do you all make of the Chronophobia achievement? (Finish 3 Corporate Islands and destroy every Time Pod discovered) Is there something nefarious about the Time Pods?

  37. apa says:

    Alec, have you been reading William Gibson’s The Peripheral (link to goodreads.com)? Or if you haven’t – read it. Futures, pasts, timelines… it’s a good one!

  38. Saul says:

    You’re basically a bunch of Ace Rimmers.