It has come to my attention recently that I have very different tastes in games from the vast majority of people.
You may find that an odd realization to come to. However, it hit me as I was playing Steamworld Heist, an indie darling that many people love, and I honestly don’t. It’s a great game, don’t get me wrong. Visually stunning, a soundtrack created by the band Steam Powered Giraffe (of which I am a fan) and solid gameplay.
But it’s not my kind of game. And I do have some issues with the PC Port. Yes, I played the PC Port, a key was given to us by the developers and I was the reviewer tapped to try it.
Let’s get into my Pillars and I will break it down for ya.
One thing I am a fan of is how this game looks. It’s got a very distinct art style to it, and its stylish and colorful and full of personality.
The art style is cohesive, which may seem like an odd thing to praise but frequently you can run into issues where games have one style for say the overworld, and another for battles, and it can be jarring. This game has one single style throughout. Also, each character is visually unique. It’s very easy to tell your team apart, for example, and the few bits of equipment (guns and hats) also are easily discernible. Enemies also have their own looks and while you can run into the same enemies over and over early on they are again easy to tell apart.
The levels also are laid out well, but sometimes I did have issues telling what parts of the floor I could shoot through versus the parts that would bounce my shots.
Did I mention I was a fan of Steam Powered Giraffe? ‘Cause I am. And this soundtrack oozes with their style. The gunshots and other sound effects were solid, and the robot “voices” are each again unique to the characters, and gave them a bit more personality. Overall, the audio work is solid and the soundtrack is easily my favorite part of this game.
Also apparently Steam Powered Giraffe had a cameo in one of the bars. This is hilarious.
The story is about Robot Cowboy Pirates in Space, fighting over Water because they are powered by Steam. What more do you want to know?
Ok, there is honestly a story, but I frankly did not play long enough to get too far into it. It seems to be broken up into acts, and early on I spent my time trying to deal with some bandits who were making life hard in my crew’s territory, which would possibly bring in the evil government to run roughshod over everything.
From looking at some images it seems there is a lot more going on, which is good, and I do appreciate that the game has an actual interesting narrative. This is a game I might watch on Youtube, personally, just to see what happens.
Here is where all my personal issues with the game lie. First and foremost, this is a port of the 3DS version. The port has, in my opinion, terrible default controls. Thankfully, you can alter them in the options menu to something less bizarre (why is CTRL a default key?!) or you can simply play with a controller. However, be aware that the mouse is not used during the actual gameplay for some reason. Everything is done with WASD, CTRL, E, and Space. It’s really strange.
A lot of people are claiming this game is like a 2D version of XCOM. I can kind of see that, but honestly the only thing this has in common with XCOM as a series is that they both used turn based actions and grid like movement. But XCOM has a much larger variety of strategic options, allows customization of your team and their gear, upgrading, permadeath, and 3D Movement along the X, Y, and Z axis.
In Steamworld Heist you can move up and down levels, and move left and right. Your team are all unique characters, you cannot rename them or control their leveling path and there are no real choices when leveling them up. In fact, gameplay wise, it has more in common with the WORMS series. You see, each character has 2 actions, a move and then something else. That something else can be another move, or an attack, or using an item. There is a cover system as well and cover is necessary as it can block shots. Enemies also use cover and have roughly the same abilities you do.
The unique thing is that rather then relaying on RNG or rolls to hit, you have to aim your shots. Thankfully, you can bounce bullets off walls and the ceiling / floor and at times you need to do this to get around cover and hit your enemies. However, aiming is a little floaty to me since you have to use W and D to aim up and down. I would have preferred mouse aiming for more precision.
As far as loot goes you can find new weapons such as Pistols, Machine Guns, and Shotguns. You also get hats, which are really just cosmetic. The levels are also randomly generated to add variety. You spend your time traversing the levels, hunting loot (Which can be Water, the currency, utility items that can be equipped like Grenades or Medkits, and new weapons), and completing objectives like “Destroy the Shield Generator” and “Kill the 3 Bosin Brothers” and things to that effect. It’s very simplistic, and for me that’s a negative aspect, as when I play a strategy game I want a bit more complexity. It really felt like a 3DS / Handheld game, and while some may love that about it, I did not. It was unable to hold my interest, especially when I found I could breeze through levels seemingly without issue.
2 HOUR RULE: FAILED
I played this game for about an hour and a half, and then just got bored of it. Nothing seemed to really challenge me, and I found the actual gameplay dull. But I can recognize that it’s still a solid game, and if you are looking for a more casual strategy game with a lot of humor and personality you cannot go wrong here. It just wasn’t for me, personally. And truthfully if you have a 3DS I suggest you get it for that system. That’s what it feels like it was originally designed for.
Also for some strange reason I could not get Nvidia Shadowplay to work with the game no matter what I did. Hence why there is no gameplay video.
Steamworld Heist is available on both 3DS and Steam for $19.99