Having launched late last year on Nintendo’s 3DS console, Image & Form have finally brought their colorful take on the turn-based strategy genre to the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita (as well as PC). And what a wonderful port it is.
Steamworld Heist earned rave reviews when it launched (including from myself), with its cast of oddball characters and its solid game play. It follows the story of Captain Piper Faraday, a roguish robot space pirate, and her growing crew of misfits as they take on both maniacal, power hungry Scrappers and the oppressive might of the Royal Space Force. All while trying to salvage water and equipment to keep her ship in the sky.
Platform: PC, PS4, PS Vita
Along the way she garners the help of the locals and warriors alike, each with their own unique and quirky personality. This is where the heart of the game lies. Great care is taken in giving all the inhabitants of Steamworld their own place in the world. They feel like they all belong here. It creates a universe that feels lived in, desperate to improve and alive with hope. Not bad considering that it’s made entirely of robots.
Steamworld Heist is a 2D turn-based strategy game, similar to games such as X-Com and Valkyria Chronicles. Each team member takes turns in moving across the map and taking actions, such as shooting, throwing grenades or healing. Once the team has completed their moves, the AI takes control of the enemies and they get their turn. However, unlike those previously mentioned games, Steamworld Heist tries to open the game up to people who normally don’t like those sorts of games.
The game play is simplified, but not at the expense of the difficulty, meaning that even if someone has never touched this genre before, they won’t feel overwhelmed or out of their depth. There’s also no permadeath, meaning that there is one less thing to worry about. The defeat of a team mate is only penalized by a reduction of XP at the end of the mission and the cost of some water, the currency in the game. This approach to the genre is welcoming and will undoubtedly introduce many people to this type of game.
Each mission played takes Piper one step closer to uncovering some dark secrets, but it also earns her water and experience for herself and her crew. Every mission is procedurally generated and has a three star scoring system, with more XP earned with each star. Which is then used to level up the crew, and with each new level they will learn new unique skills, or increase their stats. There are also weapons to earn, hats to collect (lots of hats) and water to steal. There is also the option to replay any mission, allowing the player to improve their score or earn addition XP.
The new ports of the game are incredibly slick, just like the 3DS version. They do of course benefit from an added visual shine that wasn’t quite achievable on the Nintendo handheld and the game is entirely better for it, with every nut, bolt and bit of dirt looking great. If I had one complaint however, it would be the same complaint I had with Steamworld Dig. Even though the game is Cross-Buy on PS4 and Vita, it isn’t Cross-Save. Such a shame as Heist is the type of game that’s perfect for picking up where you left off and taking it on the bus.
All in all, Image & Form have once again knocked it out of the park with Steamworld Heist. Fun, addictive and comical, it has everything in needs to become another success for the Icelandic studio.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.