Anyone who has played Image & Form’s previous SteamWorld titles knows just how much character and creativity goes into these games. SteamWorld Heist is no exception. Taking control of a crack team of Steambot pirates, your adventure quickly goes from trying to gain some loot, to being heroes to the rest of the world. With an excellent mix of humor, story, level design, gameplay, and more, SteamWorld Heist is a turn-based strategy game that anyone can pick up and enjoy.
Controlling the best team possible in the dangers of space takes a lot of strategy and customization. As you board enemy ships, your characters will have the ability to move a certain number of spaces and perform an action, such as attacking. They can also sprint to further spaces, but this ultimately leaves them unable to act for the rest of that turn. Having to actually aim your attacks then adds extra challenge to defeating the enemy in SteamWorld Heist. Each time you pull your weapon, you’ll have a complete 360 degrees to aim. The only exception is if you get right next an opponent, in which case you are forced to perform a melee attack. In most cases, this is far less effective than a regular attack with your gun. You’ll want to move to places with cover, so that you don’t give the enemy a clear shot on you as well.
Complexity in SteamWorld Heist comes from the vast amount of weapons and items you obtain. You can choose to give someone a strong weapon that has a spread effect, making it harder to aim, or use a laser guided pistol that may do less damage. With two other equipment spots on each character, you can give them armor, a repair kit, a grenade, or one of many more options. Depending on the characters you choose for each mission, you’ll have to adjust accordingly.
You may only start with 2 characters in SteamWorld Heist, a captain and her first mate, but that quickly builds as you progress, giving you a lot more options in later missions. Not only does every character have unique abilities, both active and passive, but they all bring some new humor and personality. As an added bonus, the captain and a good number of other teammates are strong women Steambots that are not overly sexualized or given any other stereotypical attributes.
While SteamWorld Heist relies much more on gameplay and charm than the actual story, there are a few twists and turns that have you invested in the overall struggle our heroes go through as they travel further and further out into the vastness of space. There is even a change in their own attitudes as we see the main objectives go from fighting for themselves, to fighting for the sake of their whole race. This ordeal is no walk through the park either. While there are 5 difficulty settings for the game, which can be changed at any time, the default setting of Experienced leaves a great deal of challenge. As more enemies, each with different traits and capabilities, emerge, you’ll have to adjust your strategies for continued success. With a leveling system in play, you may even have to go back and grind a bit on earlier levels to boost your stats.
There are a few minor frustrations that come with handling such a strategy-based action game. For one, if you click on a spot to move the character you are currently on, your character immediately goes there with no take-backs. While this seems reasonable, your characters’ positions are a vital part to your victory. It would be nice to have a little “Are you sure you want to move there?” or some other confirmation in between. As stated before, if you move next to an enemy, you are forced into melee attack mode. There are situations, however, in which you may want to move next to an enemy and want to shoot a different enemy who is farther away. Without this option, you could get yourself stuck.
While the main objective on each stage is to complete the given task and collect all the loot, there are often a lot of enemies to take out. Sometimes, they just keep coming. Defeating more enemies does absolutely nothing. You don’t get any more experience for your characters or anything of that sort. While I understand it is set up this way to emphasize the importance of the loot and other tasks, there should be some rewards to fighting off more baddies.
With great polish, style, and a good 15 hours of gameplay, SteamWorld Heist is fun and absorbing for anyone who wants to give it a shot. What’s even better is the fact that many of the levels are procedurally generated, so going back and replaying them is just as fun as it was the first time. This helps give a bit of incentive to playing the story over again. Once the game is beaten once, you can go back and play it again with all the characters already unlocked. If you’re looking for an enjoyable, arcade-style game that will test your wits and strategy, look no further than SteamWorld Heist. You’ll have a lot of fun and a few laughs along the way.
This game was reviewed on the PS4 with a copy provided by the developer.
- Challenging and fun gameplay
- Vast customization for each mission
- Great characters with unique personalities and traits
- Some grinding required
- No second chance to take back movement
- Forced to melee when next to an opponent