There’s something about these steam powered strategy games that just makes my heart melt.
I’ve spoken before but how much I loved last year’s Codename S.T.E.A.M and considered it one of the highlights of the year. It was a surprisingly deep, engaging new strategy game filled with characters from a time period I am very fond of. I felt like the game was made just for me, in a lot of ways, and really enjoyed my time with it.
It bombed, sadly, due to the press trying their hardest to make it look underwhelming and a stubborn refusal to talk about how creative it was. I, personally, felt it was a breath of fresh air after Awakening, as S.T.E.A.M was much more challenging and had a lot more mission variety. Obviously, I really loved both, I think Intelligent Systems has proven itself to be one of my favorite developers this gen, but Codename S.T.E.A.M sadly didn’t sell too well due to the actions of the corrupt gaming press, who are desperate to pretend that Nintendo doesn’t make interesting new IPs.
But never fear, a very similar indie game is here! Steamworld Heist is something Codename S.T.E.A.M fans like myself can use to pretend that Codename S.T.E.A.M is popular enough to warrant a spiritual successor. They are quite different, of course, but the similarities they do share are uncanny. Both are turn based strategy games featuring steam powered protagonists.
They are, however, clearly completely different games. The settings are different (One historical fiction, one post apocalyptic) The dimensions are different (2D and 3D) and the mechanics are different. I absolutely cannot get enough of the ricochet system in Steamworld Heist: It makes me feel like Revolver Ocelot whenever I make a tricky shot to nail an enemy bot some distance away.
I was really surprised at how fun SteamWorld Dig was despite it’s simplicity compared to other games like it, and I feel like Heist is an improvement on that. I think the SteamWorld devs are really good at keeping their ideas simple, but really fleshed out. That feeling of mystery and wonder as I tried to tunnel my way downward in a three hour long game was something else entirely. I really wasn’t expecting that feeling from a game like that, and although Heist hasn’t quite hooked me in the same way, at least not yet, it is an absolute joy to play. Like Dig, I am really enjoying the characters in spite of their simplicity. It’s hard not to like Faraday and the way she handles her situation.
It’s simple, but I think that’s what gives it it’s charm. It really gives you that old school gaming feel of exploring a world you don’t know a whole lot about. I think the SteamWorld devs are becoming a favorite indie dev of mine because I feel like they make really interesting settings and games revolving around these Steam powered robots. I wonder if this was the same sort of appeal Oddworld had back in the day.
Anyway, I would highly suggest you check out SteamWorld Heist, especially if you are one of the six people who bought Codename S.T.E.A.M. It’s an enjoyable, creative strategy game that’s sure to keep you coming back for more.