“How do Reaver’s clean their spears? The run them through the Wash” – Nathan Fillion
Now that we have gotten the initial FireFly/Serenity reference out of the way, it is time to talk about Steamworld Heist – a side scrolling, turnbased strategy game, set in a robotic steampunk, wild west outer space environment. The setting is reminiscent of Firefly, Star Wars, or pre-covenant Halo, where a core system authoritarian government is trying to control the outer colonies, and our heroes operate on the fringe of legality. But in this world, Han and Chewie are robots, who’s internal combustion is based on steam, leading to the main currency in the game being water. You will occupy the role of Captain Piper Faraday, who through the game, will gather a rag tag team of pirates, ex-military, mob enforcers, and other misifts to board, loot, and take out enemy ships, and maybe even save the universe.
The main way you will interface with the game is via the missions. In these, you will take 1 to 4 characters, whom you can customize with 100s of different combinations of weapons, hats, and accessories, on to an enemy ship and depending on the objective, you may be required to disable systems, clear the ship of enemies, or steal a specific item, but how you do this is unique. As mentioned earlier, this is a side scrolling turnbased strategy game, so unlike its contemporaries (Fire Emblem, X-com, Final Fantasy Tactics), Heist chooses to give the player a profile view of the environment, allowing the characters to aim at enemies, which can drastically influences a shots success, as compared to tradition turn based strategy games, where player do not have an active hand during the action. While most guns will give you an idea where their bullets will head, some have laser sites that will give a better indication of the bullets trajectory and final destination. This is not a say, you can’t get your robot hands dirty, all characters can engage in melee attacks, as well as utilize special abilities during combat, such as heal or double movement. This all means that Heist gives the player many different options when engaging in missions, and no single combination of characters will be able to 100% every scenario, so a player has to be flexible and recognize when a different strategy is called for. When you are not in battle, you are controlling Piper, who can explore the ship, talk to the crew, and access the star map (think world map from Super Mario World) to direct to the next mission or to the closest shop to buy new weapons, inventory slots, other accessories or hats. Once you have beaten the game, you are given a New Game+ option, where you can take your full crew through the game again, this time enemies will be tougher and you will need to rebuild your arsenal, but you characters will retain their level and abilities from the previous playthrough, for those players looking for a challenge.
There is one thing I have not mentioned and that was intentional, Steamworld Heist is not a sequel to Steamworld Dig or Steamworld Tower Defense, it is a parallel story. It uses similar environmental artwork, character design, and setting, but is a very different playing game. You will find no platforming in Heist, unlike in Dig, but eagle eye players may see Rusty pop up somewhere in the game.
So now that I have given a brief overview of the game, its setting, and its place in the Steamworld, all I can really say is GO PLAY IT, LIKE NOW!
I loved this game and I ended up playing through it on the normal difficulty, going back and perfecting all of the mission and then engaging in the New Game +. I enjoyed the story about the band of ragtag misfits taking on these impossible challenges, and I got upset when I lost a character in a mission because of the mistakes I made. This is definitely not a game to miss!
Developer: Image & Form Games
Platform: 3DS + WiiU (played on a New 3DS XL)
Play time: 14 Hours