SteamWorld Heist is the followup to the immensely popular and critically acclaimed game, SteamWorld Dig. Developed by Image & Form Games, SteamWorld Dig was a game about digging and mining and saving a town in need. It featured Metrovanian like gameplay with randomized worlds (procedurally generated) that would change each time you played a new game. That made the replay value quite high. It made for quite a formula that was a hit for fans. However for this new game, SteamWorld Heist, Image & Form went a completely different way with it. It still features that “steam punk” look and still features robots, but now it’s a turn-based strategy game in outer space where you’ll have to board, loot and shoot your way through enemy spaceships.
This might surprise some, but there is an actual story attached to SteamWorld Heist. It’s not just a game that you play just to play but an actual story driven adventure. The Earth as we know it is gone and has been broken up into millions of pieces. All the inhabitants, which happen to be robots, have been driven into space. These “Cowbots” must mine moisture in order to survive but must also contend with Scrappers and Royalists who want to steal their hard earned rewards. Water is a precious commodity and this is what is being fought over in space.
You play as Piper Faraday, a smuggler and part time pirate trying to survive like everyone else. Scrappers have invaded your turf and are drawing unwanted attention that could cause the even worse Royal Fleet to come out and see what’s going on. Basically you’re just a smuggler looking out for yourself, but somehow become an unlikely hero in the process.
SteamWorld Heist is a turn-based strategy game at its core. Much of the gameplay takes place on spaceships with randomly generated interiors. That means that each time you play a mission over, the interior layout of that ship will be different each time with enemies placed in a different location as well. Same goes for the loot.
Each mission starts you off in a starting room with multiple entry points into the bowels of each ship. All unexplored rooms are blacked out and it’s up to you to open up the map so you can see where everything is. Advancing through each room does this and shows you the location of where the enemies and loot are placed. However, you can’t just go charging in like you would in normal games. Since this is a turn-based strategy game, there are limitations to what you’re allowed to do.
For starters, each character can only move a set number of spaces during each turn. As you progress, this number can get higher or lower depending on the items you place on them. Not only that, there are a set number of moves you can make that will allow you to attack as well. If you go over that amount, you will only be allowed to defend. Your damage level you inflict on the enemies are dependent on your weapons and gear as is your health. In a way, the game also has RPG elements to strengthening your characters as well as a loot based system with randomly generated item finds.
Speaking of weapons, the shooting mechanic in SteamWorld Heist is pretty interesting. You can shoot your weapon in almost any direction. When it hits an object or an enemy, that’s where it deals the damage. Damage is based on your weapon stats. If you shoot an enemy in the head, you have a chance at a critical hit which adds more damage. What is neat in the game however is the fact that bullets can ricochet off walls and ceilings. This allows for some pretty creative shots you can take if certain enemies are at strange angles you can’t get to head on.
Basically what you want to do in each mission is take out all the enemies without dying and loot each spaceship for water, weapons, and gear. Some missions also have secondary objectives, or obstacles that can make escaping harder, but for the most part, that’s all you do. Speaking of loot, one of the first things you’ll want to do when gaining enough credits is to buy extra storage space. The more item slots you have, the more items you can carry. I ran out of space fairly early on because I forgot to buy item slots. I fixed that later on.
SteamWorld Heist is an incredibly fun and different turn-based strategy game. When you start it up, you almost want to play it like your typical action based platform game but then the turn-based nature of the game kicks in and in all honestly, it actually makes the game much better and more memorable. You’re not just freely running around shooting whatever you want. Instead you actually have to plan your moves and decide what the best course of action would be with the limited amount of moves you can take. Each shot you take becomes a commodity you don’t want to waste and because of this, SteamWorld Heist becomes a very fulfilling game that makes you think about each move.
The great thing about SteamWorld Heist too is that it’s not difficult at all to get into. There’s a quick tutorial mission of sorts and that’s pretty much all you really need to learn. You’ll pick everything else up as you go and for the most part, it’s a very simple game to pick up. That doesn’t mean it’s not challenging though because it very much is. Also if you ever do feel like it’s not challenging enough, just bump up the difficulty setting.
While the original SteamWorld Dig was a good game, I think SteamWorld Heist is a much better game and one that needs to be played and experienced.
Review code provided to us by the publisher/developer.
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