REVIEW – SteamWorld Heist (3DS)

Back in 2013, a small game development studio known as Image & Form released one of the years’ number one games on 3DS – SteamWorld DigDig quickly became one of my favorite games earning a perfect score as you can see in my review.  Naturally, I wanted a sequel to come along and bring me more of the fun and excitement I found playing as the miner bot Rusty in Dig.  As the months progressed, I kept waiting and hoping that the fine folks at Image & Form would release that sequel.  Eventually, word got around that Image & Form was working on a new SteamWorld game – SteamWorld Heist, but sadly, it wouldn’t be a sequel to Dig.  Described as a 2D turn based combat game taking place in the SteamWorld universe, I was a bit let down, especially since I am not typically a fan of turn based games.  As I sulked at the lack of a Dig sequel, more and more info about Heist was released.  And along with that info came screens, interviews, videos, and hats!  Towards the middle of 2015 I began to pay attention to Heist once again and found my interest was surprisingly peaked and ultimately I began to get more and more excited and anticipated its rapidly approaching release date.  Now that I’ve had my hands on the game for a few weeks, I can say that I am very glad I gave SteamWorld Heist a chance and it has now become my absolute favorite game of 2015.

Taking place in outer space, in a post-apocalyptic world inhabited by steam-powered robots just trying to survive, Heist puts players in the boots of Captain Piper Faraday, a space pirate captain, and her rag tag band of crew mates as they struggle to get by, all while dodging the corrupt government bots and scavengers scattered across the galaxy.

Steamworld Heist is set up as a 2D, turn-based, and tactical affair using guns and bombs as your weapons of choice.  Where things start to get really interesting is in the ability to perform trick shots off walls and other objects.  Gameplay for Heist is structured as such that you must earn star rankings in order to take on new missions and progress the story.  Each mission can award you up to 3 stars, depending on if you complete the mission and how well you achieve that goal as defined by tasks.  As you embark on each mission you’ll be able to adjust not only your difficulty, but your loadouts as well.  With 5 levels of difficulty and dozens of guns, armor, secondary weapons to find and purchase, and (the cherry on top), random battles – you’ll be able to customize your experience greatly and make for some very interesting firefights.  Additionally, each crew mate belongs to a certain class and is highly skilled in particular weapon sets.  This added layer of complexity adds challenge and demands you make calculated choices in each mission, rather than just running and gunning your way through.

As mentioned previously, movement is turn based.  Each bot can move a certain amount, indicated by blue or orange highlighted paths on the ground under the character.  You can use these indicators to decide if you want to attack head on, line up tricks shots, take cover, or even come in for a direct melee attack.  The trick shots are the most interesting part however, with the ability to bank shots off multiple surfaces, you’ll come up with some clever ways to dispatch of your foes.

Visually, Heist is perfect.  The colors and designs of the robots, guns, ships, down to every last detail is high quality and I am eager to see and play it on my Wii U.  One particular bit of detail I find satisfying every single time is the visual and audio effects that take place sometimes when I destroy an enemy.  The frames slow down and you can see in slow motion how your bullet blasts the other robot into scraps parts and it is accompanied by a bass filled thud.  This may be a small detail, but it has stuck with me from the first time I experienced it.  This particular attention to detail is just one of the numerous bits that will grab your attention throughout your adventure, and it speaks volumes to the great work and effort that the team at Image and Form put into creating the experience that is Heist.

If you’re looking for a unique gaming experience that is sure to satiate your desire for action, adventure, witty dialogue, and that will test your mettle, then look no further.  If you have yet to give SteamWorld Heist a try, I highly recommend you put a little steam in your step and do so now.