SteamWorld Heist: Ultimate Edition Review
Developer: Image & Form
Publisher: Image & Form
Release Date: 28 December 2017
Price: $19.99 / £14.99
Reviewed by Gary Gray
The Steamworld series has already made a splash on the Nintendo Switch with Steamworld Dig 2, so surely it makes sense for the original Steamworld Dig to be released right? Well, Image and Form Games had a different idea, namely releasing the turn based RPG Steamworld Heist instead, hanging up the pickaxes and strapping on a gun holster for a war in space, rather than a trek underground. Steamworld Heist Ultimate Edition is packed with content, including all the DLC from the regular edition of the game plus a few extra bits thrown in, including some optimisations for the Nintendo Switch.
Shaking things up
Set centuries after the events of the Steamworld Dig games, the Earth is destroyed and the steam bots have taken to space travel. You take control of a band of space pirates who are running into some tough times. The 'Scrappers' are threatening your group and the people you've been pirating from. This can only mean one thing: time to scrap the Scrappers!
Being a turn based game, Steamworld Heist shakes things up a little by having you manually aim your guns. You can move each character into position on your turn and then fire when ready. With a push of the R button, your aimer activates, letting you line up your shot before you pull the trigger. One of the great things about this system is that you can actually bounce bullets around. So if you can't line up the head shot you want, then aim for the wall behind, and watch the bullet bounce right back at the bad guy.
While totally different in gameplay to the Dig games, there are some similarities, mainly in the character's personalities and humour. For anyone who's totally unfamiliar with the Steamworld universe, you don't need to know anything about the previous games to understand what's going on in Heist. Steam powered robots require water to run which becomes their currency, even selling gold bars for water. Each level is procedurally generated meaning that even if you play the same level again, and board the same ship, it'll be different. Normally this kind of random level maker runs into problems, leaving game play down to luck. This isn't the case here however, leaving the success of the level down to your own skills.
Speaking of which, each character that you obtain throughout your quest gains experience, levelling up and, in turn, unlocking new skills. Paired with those skills that your character learns, you can also equip guns and other items before each heist, adapting your character to the way you want to play. Going in guns blazing might not necessarily always be the best strategy. Letting the enemy fire upon you first may be the best thing you can do, as long as you have the right skills, biding your time to throw a counter-attack with more power.
Pick Your Fights Carefully
Choosing your next heist is done on the over-world map, giving you a full view of what's about, with a devastated Earth in the background. Each mission also gives you a star rating once you've completed it. This is your 'reputation' which unlocks new areas, and new equipment. In amongst the levels are a few other ships, some are bars where you can recruit new members, and others are gun shops. There are also challenge levels scattered within these too, and some can be really tough! Pick your fights carefully, because taking on more than you can chew will cost you valuable H2O.
The art direction on Streamworld Heist is spot on from start to end. From the war time inspired opening video, to the designing of the different 'bots, there's a fantastic look that carries throughout. Talking to the different characters is always a treat too, as they all have their own unique voices, made up of buzzing and clattering of metal, paired with great dialogue that can be incredibly humorous at times. Never pass up the opportunity to speak to a character, as they give you background stories of not only themselves, but the situation the solar system is in. They are optional and can be skipped, but they're that great, they really shouldn't be missed.
The soundtrack is filled with some toe-tapping, catchy beats, drawing influence from country music, as well as more industrial feeling tracks for the bad guys. The real highlights can be found by heading to a bar and standing in front of the bands. There's some amazing music here, if you take the time to stop and listen.
There's plenty of content too, including multiple difficulties, a ranking system for each level and a new game plus. This really is a jam-packed version of Steamworld Heist. It also features touch screen controls. I was hesitant to try them at first, dismissing them as a thrown-in feature. I'm pleased to admit that I was really wrong, and that they really help, especially for fine aiming from a distance. The great thing about the touch screen feature is that you can use it to play the game from start to end. It's totally down to you how you want to play.
Steamworld Heist should be on your radar, bringing a fresh and unique take on the turn based RPG genre that grips you from start to end. Packed with customisation for your guns and equipment, straight down to the cosmetic collectable hats, there's plenty of bang for your buck. I honestly cannot fault Steamwold Heist. The writing, game play, art style and music are all superb, there really isn't anything out of place, and it's already become one of my favourite titles on the Switch.
Pros & Cons
+ Interesting Story
+ Precise, yet optional touch controls
+ Packed with content.
-Not much level variety