Steamworld Heist is a turn-based strategy game that was developed by Image & Form, who also created Steamworld Dig, which I really enjoyed and was well received by many gamers and critics. The game is now available on PS4 and Vita and has similar design and presentation to their previous games but this time it has very different gameplay.
Steamworld Heist is a turn-based strategy game that also has elements of action throughout and I could instantly see some similarities to the XCOM franchise and those style of games. The basic idea for the narrative behind the game is that Earth has been destroyed and the characters you play as must go in search for resources to survive. I also want to mention that the game still has a steampunk style, with quirky cowboy robots and futuristic settings.
The story this time takes place in space, where you search various locations like spacecraft’s. You start out by playing as Captain Piper but you also get to control other crew members. Along with searching for supplies you also discover new allies and foes. I have to say that I actually really enjoyed the premise for the game and it has done a fantastic job of creating an interesting atmosphere and style.
Before I talk more about the gameplay I want to mention the humour in the game. The visual style is striking and the depth of the characters and the dialogue between them and the interactions they have are what makes the moment to moment gameplay so great. It almost feels like an animated cartoon, with loud likeable characters and unique settings. The game is also played from a side-on view, much like 2D platformers. The controls are extremely simple and at the start of each character’s turn you simply point with the D-pad where you want them to move and then perform an action.
The gameplay in Steamworld Heist is great, which sees you moving characters through environments in a similar style to the XCOM games but instead of the top-down view its side on. You can move with the D-Pad or Analog Stick and as you highlight certain areas you can move to they have different colours telling you what actions you can perform. If there’s an orange section, it means you can shoot from there and the blue means you can’t. You also get various actions you can use and by using the R-Button you can quickly switch actions. You can only do this whilst stationary. When it comes to firing at enemies you also have to be stationary and you actually have to aim manually with either the D-pad or analog stick which is great.
When I heard the game was turn-based with gunplay I was worried that the action would feel sluggish but that’s not the case. You quickly switch actions, move around environments and take shots at enemies. As you shoot enemies you see how much damage you knock off by the numbers that appear above them what’s also interesting is that you can damage other objects like alarms, barriers and turrets. You only have a certain amount you can carry when it comes to equipment and weapons but as you progress you can actually purchase increased storage. Water is hugely valuable in the game so its important to get as much as you can. When you kill enemies in battle you collect weapons that are dropped, which you can equip and you can also sell items for water.
As I said the combat is fantastic and what makes it even better is how it progresses during the course of the game. Enemy robots become more challenging with various attributes and abilities. Some enemies have shields, powerful weapons and some can even warp around the screen. The variation in enemy types mixed with the fluid and fast-paced action makes the game extremely fun. You can also take more than one crew member with you on missions making each mission feel unique. Each character on your crew also have different skills and abilities. I really enjoyed getting to experiment with the different characters and the different abilities they introduced to the gameplay.
Another aspect that will keep you on your toes and something that we are starting to see more and more in games is the fact that the maps are randomly generated at the start of each mission. There are over 100 weapons to buy and collect, and equipment ranging from grenades to armour. As you complete missions you will level up your characters and they will start to obtain special abilities. These can greatly improve your chances of success in future missions. You get abilities like healing and improved accuracy that will help guide your team through each stage.
Steamworld Heist also has a decent amount of content and things to do. The game has five difficulty options for every stage and you can select what difficulty to go with at the start of each mission. I tried to do as many of the stages on higher difficulties as you’re rewarded with higher EXP bonuses. There are three sectors with over 100 stars to find, so if you’re a fan of collectable items this is great and adds replayability and there’s even a New Game+ mode.
The game looks great with smooth animations, vibrant colours and interesting robot characters. I heard that the game was great on the 3DS and I have to say it looks and sounds great on the PS4, running at 1080p at 60 frames per second. I also gave it a go on the PS Vita as the game is Cross-Play/Cross-Buy. I’m a huge fan of the vita and this game is perfect for portable devices.
Overall Steamworld Heist is a great game that may surprise fans of the previous game, but in a good way. The style and design of the world, characters and combat is fantastic. The turn-based combat is surprisingly fluid and fast-paced and there’s plenty of upgrades and variations to play with. The game offers a nice challenge and I would certainly recommend giving it a go if you’re a fan of turn-based strategy games, tactical combat or where curious about trying it after the first Steamworld game.
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