Epic Store Free Game This Week Is A Hidden Gem Of The Survival Genre

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If you’re a fan of single-player survival games like Subnautica, you can get Breathedge for free this week.

I don’t know how long I’ve been collecting free stuff on the Epic Game Store, but it feels like forever. I don’t remember the last time I actually played any of the free games, and it might be never. In fact, the only reason I even open the Epic launcher is to add a free game to my library, then I log off and wait for the next batch of freebies before I come back a week later and do it all again. The cycle repeats, and I leave these freebies to gather dust.

This week is different, sort of. I still opened the app, claimed the free games, then logged out, but this time I’m not deluding myself into thinking I’ll get around to playing it eventually. I’ve already played this week’s free game, Breathedge, and it’s so good that I had to take a second to make this public announcement: don’t be like me. Open EGS, download the free games, but then before you close the app, actually sit there and play the game.

Breathedge is a single-player survival game, and when it launched in 2021 (after a few years in early access) it was compared, somewhat unfavorably, to Subnautica. It’s easy to see the relationship between those two games, and I suspect Breathedge wouldn’t even exist if Subnautica hadn’t laid the groundwork for solo, exploration-driven survival games, but that doesn’t mean Breathedge should be discounted as a clone or rip-off. There are a lot of things that it does differently than Subnautica, and it does a few of the same things better.

Both games begin with your character surviving a crash in a tiny, tin-can of a spaceship, but while Subnautica is all about exploring the depths of the sea, Breathedge is about exploring the vastness of space. At the beginning, you’re tethered to your ship, only able to extend out a few meters to collect useful debris. Soon, you’ll find ways to craft oxygen tanks, which will let you venture out from the station and float freely through open space as you look for the means to repair your ship and escape.

One thing I prefer about Breathedge over Subnautica is its environment. I always felt it was too easy to get lost and overwhelmed in Subnautica’s endless blue ocean, but Breathedge makes it a lot easier to navigate through space using celestial markers. While scavenging resources and mining asteroids for useful minerals, I often found myself stopping to marvel at the scale and beauty of my surroundings. That can be a dangerous thing to do when every second matters to your perpetually depleting oxygen supply, but it speaks to how captivating the world of Breathedge is.

Reviewers weren’t particularly kind to this game, and I’m not surprised. Its comedic approach is somewhere between eye-rolling and cringe-inducing, and the second half of the game is incredibly linear, to the point where it feels like a different game altogether. But I don’t regret that dozen hours I put into Breathedge, and I still think about it often. The mix of urgency and tranquility that comes from peacefully exploring space a moment before your racing back to base to save your last breath is something wholly unique to Breathedge, and I think it’s worth experiencing yourself – even if you’re an Epic Game Store hoarder like me.

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