Tactical Breach Wizards, a turn-based strategy game about spec-ops casters with a habit of throwing people out of windows, has a free demo after years in the cauldron

Two world-weary tactical mages stand outside of a police department they just tore through.
(Image credit: Suspicious Developments Inc)

It might just be my history with City of Heroes—an MMO which had witches and wizards aplenty in its modern comic-book styled setting—or my love of Dimension 20's Fantasy High, but I'm a huge fan of modern magic settings. Give me a witch in a leather jacket and I'm basically there.

Tactical Breach Wizards, which we previewed back in May 2021, has been in the oven for a while—and, at long last, has a playable demo on Steam.

I was completely unaware of its existence until a friend excitedly shared it to me in a Discord server with the message 'blowing you all up' rendered in block capitals over the weekend, which I consider a solid recommendation to check something out regardless of personal tastes. I was then told by my fellow writers that PC Gamer alumnus Tom Francis made it—which makes me feel a little embarrassed, but hopefully impartial enough to let you know that I mean it when I say this game already rocks.

Tactical Breach Wizards is shaping up to be an excellent time if you're a fan of turn-based strategy games like XCOM (or, more recently, Capes)—although, in terms of moment-to-moment gameplay, the game plays out a little more like Chimera Squad, focusing on a squad of defined characters doing battle in tight spaces, though it already feels more well-realised than that game did.

Each level includes a series of rapid-fire breaches requiring cunning deployment of guns and spells to deal with foes like the druid mafia, cops (you're a loose cannon PI, naturally), and whoever's unlucky enough to get on the business end of your hexes. Positioning is key—requiring you to knock enemies out of windows, into walls, or into each other.

Similar to Capes, Tactical Breach Wizards allows you to meticulously plan out your turns by (through the power of time magic) rewinding all of your actions on any given turn after you understand the consequences. My only complaint is that you don't get an instant replay of the action, but it's an otherwise handy system for the working-memory adverse like myself.

(Image credit: Suspicious Developments Inc)

Tactical Breach Wizards doesn't lock player power behind difficult side-objectives, which was one of my biggest bugbears with Capes. Instead, it locks cosmetics behind those things, which I think is a far cooler way to handle things. If I feel obligated to do a bunch of super-difficult extra objectives just to unlock better abilities, I'm gonna feel annoyed. I will, however, walk across hell and back for a fancy coat. You can still upgrade your soldiers with perks, naturally.

(Image credit: Suspicious Developments Inc)

Each turn, your operatives can move once and take one action. There are things that let you swing the action economy your way—for example, failed private eye and witch Jen has a wind grenade she can huck at someone for free, while ex-military seer Zan can spend mana to grant extra actions to his mates. Mana is a resource that can be gathered through completing optional side-objectives like snagging intel and sealing doors. It all dovetails very nicely—though it can be a little difficult to tell where ranged enemies are going to move, rendering multi-turn strategies hard to execute.

The real unexpected surprise, however, is Tactical Breach WIzards' story. The game's cleverly written, already setting up a mystery involving a "god-tier operative", their kidnapping, and their subsequent involvement with a paramilitary organisation.

It keeps you apprised of the plot by asking you to literally do the detective cork-board-with-red-string-thing between outings, which I like as a visual learner. The game also takes advantage of its "fight, breach, fight" structure by letting characters exchange banter while parked outside of the doors they're about to bust down.

(Image credit: Suspicious Developments Inc)

It also already has worldbuilding that's funny and interesting in equal measure. Far from being just an excuse for your operatives to shoot lightning, Tactical Breach Wizards genuinely chews over the impact of arming time wizards with AK-47s. My favourite touch is that, whenever you toss someone out of a building, you do so with a slowfall ward in-place—with ending screens showing your victorious mages standing surrounded by bubbled bad guys.

(Image credit: Suspicious Developments Inc)

There's no guarantee Tactical Breach Wizard's setting'll stay endearing over the course of a long playthrough—unlike its operatives, I'm not blessed with foresight—but I'm already having a blast with what's there. I might even go and check out Gunpoint, which I hear has even more defenestration. My new favourite word, by the way.

Disclosure: Tactical Breach Wizards' developer Tom Francis was an editor at PC Gamer for 10 years, leaving in 2013 after the release of his first game, Gunpoint. We assign writers and editors who do not have personal relationships with Tom to any coverage of his games.

Harvey Randall
Staff Writer

Harvey's history with games started when he first begged his parents for a World of Warcraft subscription aged 12, though he's since been cursed with Final Fantasy 14-brain and a huge crush on G'raha Tia. He made his start as a freelancer, writing for websites like Techradar, The Escapist, Dicebreaker, The Gamer, Into the Spine—and of course, PC Gamer. He'll sink his teeth into anything that looks interesting, though he has a soft spot for RPGs, soulslikes, roguelikes, deckbuilders, MMOs, and weird indie titles. He also plays a shelf load of TTRPGs in his offline time. Don't ask him what his favourite system is, he has too many.