We need more water to survive but I keep dying goddammit
Steam-powered robots, spaceships, and explosions. All three are great things. Steamworld Heist, created by Image & Form, is a side scrolling turn based strategy based in a steampunk universe. The Swedish company created the Steamworld series in 2010 with Steamworld Towers, all of their projects have received good reviews. Steamworld Heist tells a new story about the robot named Piper who captains a pirate ship collecting treasure and water with her crew. The Steamworld universe is vast and full of danger, are you ready for it?
Plot: This installment of the series is set several hundred years after the events of Steamworld Dig. The steambots that make up the world have grown more astute and have developed the technology to travel to space. The player follows Captain Piper and her rough and tumble crew as she raids enemies called “scrappers” ships. The mission is unchanging: find water, upgrade characters, and find treasure. The story is simple per precedent, as the player progresses they learn of the world’s mythos and how the steambots went to space throughout the adventure. The galaxy expands as you travel further and further into space, make sure Captain Piper and her crew are properly outfitted!
Gameplay: Steamworld Heist is a turn-based strategy where steam-powered robots use firearms to destroy enemies and environmental objects or structures. Bullets ricochet off walls and ceilings giving the sidescroller a unique addition to battle as cover is a huge element throughout each raid. The player controls Captain Piper and her teammates, each with their own abilities and specialties. Each steambot teammate can be either purchased with water or hired solely based on Piper’s reputation. You earn reputation by beating each level and raiding for loot or treasure in other scrapper’s ships. Completing raids gives experience to crewmembers which unlocks additional talents, adds to your water supply (essential for weapon and equipment purchases), and gives scores to determine how much reputation was earned. Most levels have a max of 3 reputation points while others only have a single point to earn. There are 100 guns including rifles. pistols, shotguns, and explosives. Each with various stat bonuses and better ricochet chance for trick shots. Hats add no stat bonus whatsoever but are fun to collect as a vanity item.
Difficulty: The battles that ensue in Steamworld Heist only get harder as it progresses. I found myself losing several raids over simple mistakes that added up to my demise in the end. First off, playable characters have very low health. There are items that can be purchased to replenish health during battle or add to the character’s max health. Items and weapons must be chosen carefully as different enemy types require different tactics to defeat them. Some enemies have to be hit by a ricochet, by explosion, or by melee attacks. The character talents make battle more fluid as bonuses are dished out to be used in combat. Adding or reducing incoming damage with equippable items can make or break the raid you’re currently on. Each scrapper raid is randomized so memorization is out of the question. The most hardest part of failing a raid is losing water and having all your teammates die. Each time you die your water supply is reduced by half and no one receives any experience. This leads to character level grinding as the player must return to previous missions and re-complete them for water but no reputation.
Music: The band is in the game, and they are steambots? Thats right. Steam Powered Giraffe composed the soundtrack for Steamworld Heist and can be seen playing in several of the seedy establishments that Captain Piper visits while recruiting and upgrading the crew. The sounds they produced are a good mix of western string and electronica and add to the all around atmosphere of travelling the galaxy. This kind of music has been made for the previous installments and mixes well making them more fun. The music is better than what I expected having played Steamworld Towers and Dig and gave great flavor to the gameplay.
Summary: I enjoyed the experience the same way I enjoyed Steamworld Dig. I didn’t find many new elements to the side-scrolling turn based strategies, instead Heist takes the better elements and refines them. The plot, gameplay, and difficulty all mixed well and made Heist an enjoyable experience. The reason I liked Steamworld Heist is the simplicity and how they are not trying to be too original while still making their own universe. The world and characters created are unique on their own and have history in the universe. Image & Form slowly add more story to the mythos of the Steamworld universe,giving it momentum to tell more stories in the future. I hope with future installments the studio continues to flesh out the lore and make good adventures.