SteamWorld Heist
Gameplay 10
Graphics 9
Sound 9

SteamWorld Heist is set in the same universe as its predecessor, SteamWorld Dig, but opted for a completely different genre and play style. Despite the switch, the game retains the charming visual style and addictiveness that is becoming a hallmark of Image & Form titles. If you are a fan of turn-based strategy games you really owe it to yourself to add this one to your collection.

Gameplay: Despite being turn-based, the game feels fast and action packed.

Graphics: Detailed, vibrant and well animated.

Sound: Great sound effects and the soundtrack is brilliant

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SteamWorld Heist

Developer: Image & Form | Publisher: Image & Form | Release Date: 2016 | Genre: Action / Adventure / Indie / RPG / Strategy | Website: Official Website | Purchase: Steam

With Earth blown to pieces and the galaxy run by Royalists, Captain Piper Faraday and her crew of steam-driven pirates eke out a living on the Outskirts. Unfortunately, a new bunch of thugs, called Scrappers, start making a nuisance of themselves in the area. After losing most of her crew to the Scrappers, Piper decides to take action against them, before the Royalists become involved. Little does she know that far more dangerous and sinister things await her in the depths of space.

SteamWorld Heist is set in the same universe as the rather brilliant, but underrated, SteamWorld Dig, but it is definitely not a sequel. Instead of digging underground for riches, Piper and her crew travel the galaxy while boarding enemy ships and relieving them of their riches. Of course, your foes are not just going to stand by and let you loot them, so shootouts inevitably occur. Boarding, looting and shooting your way through enemy spaceships make up the bulk of the game, so it is a good thing that it is so addictive.

The developers drew their inspiration from classic titles, such as the XCOM series and Worms, for the turn-basted strategy elements of SteamWorld Heist. Each of your crew members can be moved a certain distance during their “turn” before taking a shot, or forego their attack to move further and reach a more strategic spot. The game is 2D and viewed from a side perspective, which allows you to manually aim the guns of your robots. This means that you don’t have to worry about hit percentages or luck and a successful shot depends purely on your skill. Bullets can ricochet off hard surfaces, allowing for some pretty impressive skill shots. Just watch out as for some reason your crew doesn’t stand completely still when aiming, which means you’ll have to account for their shakiness before pulling the trigger. You can also make use of cover, but beware as most of them are destructible.

Completing a level rewards you with up to three stars and earns all the bots who took part in the mission (and survived) experience points. Crew who are killed during missions are reassembled back on your own ship, but forfeit all the experience points they would have earned during the mission, so there is a real incentive for keeping them alive.

Bots that stay behind on your own ship also miss out on experience points, so altering who you take along on each mission will help to keep everyone on an equal level. Some levels only allow you to take along one member, while larger levels might require four or more to get the job done. Interestingly enough, experience points are tied to your objectives and collecting loot, not killing enemies, so there is no point trying to “farm” enemies. This removes some of the grind from the game and the selectable difficulty settings ensures a decent challenge for players of all skill levels. Higher difficulty settings comes with bigger penalties for failures, but also rewards players with more experience points. Crew members unlock new abilities as they level up, although their levels are capped at ten.

When not busy with missions you can talk to your crew members aboard your ship to find out a little more about their past and motivations for joining you. You can’t ask them specific questions, but they always have something interesting to say and we grew quite fond of a few of them. From the galaxy map you get to pick where to go next, but your progress is pretty linear and there are no exploration elements. You can however take on optional levels that are a bit harder or visit the shops that dot the map. The currency in SteamWorld Heist is water and it can be used to purchase anything from new guns and inventory items to stylish new hats with which to equip your robots. Each robot can equip a primary weapon, two accessories and a hat, allowing you to personalize not only their look, but also their combat style. Save some cash for the items that increase your inventory space though, as it is limited and you’ll be hauling back new swag after every successful mission.

Visually the game follows in the footsteps of SteamWorld Dig and retains the trademark attention to detail as well as brilliant character designs. Each member of your crew looks truly unique and while enemies look the same they at least have lots of different “types.” The explosions are easily the most satisfying part of the game as enemies will literally blow apart when you land a killing shot. It is not just the visuals that shine either, but the audio too. Although the game doesn’t feature any voice-overs, the robots do have their own mechanical “language” to accompany the sub-titles. The music tracks and sound effects are also very good, but the highlight are the tunes by Steam Powered Giraffe that is played at the various bars you encounter. The bands’ steampunk inspired tunes are a great match for the game and well worth a listen when taking a break between missions. The game interface was clearly designed for a controller, but actually works quite well with a keyboard too, and we never had any trouble getting the characters to do what we wanted.

SteamWorld Heist offers quite a sizeable adventure for players and aiming for three stars on every mission increases the longevity even more. The game also features a boss to defeat at the end of each zone, and enemies that become sneakier as you progress by employing tactics like shields and teleporting. In addition, most of the levels are procedurally generated and the game has a New Game+ mode to take on after completion. In fact, there is very little that we can actually fault about the game. One of the only complaints that we had about the brilliant SteamWorld Dig was how quickly it could be completed, but this is not an issue with SteamWorld Heist.

Overall SteamWorld Heist is yet another brilliant offering from Image & Form, and a must-own title for all fans of the genre. It is packed to the brim with charm and personality, along with very addictive gameplay. We had a hard time tearing ourselves away from the game and hopefully it is not the last we see of Captain Piper and her crew.

System Requirements

  • OS: Windows Vista 32 bit
  • Processor: 2 GHz, SSE2 support
  • Memory: 1024 MB RAM
  • Graphics: OpenGL 2.1-compatible, 512 MB video memory, framebuffer object support. E.g. Intel HD 4600 or better.
  • Storage: 320 MB available space
  • Sound Card: OpenAL compatible
  • Additional Notes: You may need to update your graphics drivers for OpenGL 2.1 support.
  • Processor: 2 GHz dual-core
  • Graphics: Geforce GTX 660 / Radeon 7870 or better.
  • OS: 10.7 (Lion)
  • Processor: 2 GHz
  • Memory: 1024 MB RAM
  • Graphics: OpenGL 2.1-compatible, 512 MB video memory, framebuffer object support. E.g. Intel HD 4600 or better.
  • Storage: 320 MB available space
  • Sound Card: OpenAL compatible
  • Additional Notes: You may need to update your graphics drivers for OpenGL 2.1 support.
  • Processor: 2 GHz dual-core
  • Graphics: Geforce GTX 660 / Radeon 7870 or better.
  • OS: Steam OS 2.0 / Ubuntu 14.04 LTS
  • Processor: 2 GHz, SSE2 support
  • Memory: 1024 MB RAM
  • Graphics: OpenGL 2.1-compatible, 512 MB video memory, framebuffer object support. E.g. Intel HD 4600 or better.
  • Storage: 320 MB available space
  • Sound Card: OpenAL compatible
  • Additional Notes: You may need to update your graphics drivers for OpenGL 2.1 support.
  • Processor: 2 GHz dual-core
  • Graphics: Geforce GTX 660 / Radeon 7870 or better.

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