SteamWorld Heist Review
SteamWorld Heist is quite the quirky game, infusing the turn-based shooter genre with an addictive blend of fun bank shots, wacky humor, and hat collecting, making a rich title with hours of enjoyment.
Set in the same zany universe as 2013’s SteamWorld Dig, SteamWorld Heist is a turn-based shooter in which you guide a band of oddball crew of pirate robots as they seek riches, rewards, and perhaps getting rid of some nasty scrappers along the way.
The general gameplay of SteamWorld Heist is very easy to pick up — you’ll head to various ships in order to take out the baddies running them, and relieve them of their ill-gotten loot. Aboard their ship, you’ll move your characters in turn; they can move a short distance each turn, and can fire after doing so. While you can fire after moving, firing always ends your turn, so you won’t be able to shoot and then reposition. Additionally, you can traverse longer distances by having them sprint, doubling the range they can move to but consuming the chance to fire that turn.
Once enemies have been discovered, turns alternate between you and them; you command each of your party, moving and firing as necessary, and then the enemy will maneuver all of theirs. Unlike in other turn-based games where speed dictates the individual character order for friend and foe, SteamWorld Heist keeps it simple, and it helps the flow of the game tremendously.
The environment plays a huge part of shoot-outs. Good use of cover will protect you from many shots, critical due to how squishy most characters are initially. Furthermore, most bullets actually ricochet around, allowing for some very fun and fancy skillshots — made much easier if you have a laser sight equipped to indicate bullet direction. Firing long-distance shots with my sniper, banking the round off of multiple walls to end up lodging in a boss’s skull was very satisfying.
Loot all the things!
You’ll want to pick up swag as you venture through enemy ships, which is the your source of goodies in SteamWorld Heist. Gallons of water operate as currency in the steam-driven universe, allowing you to purchase vital inventory upgrades and any guns or armor that catches your eye, though you’ll find plenty of great loot within the swag bags themselves. You’ll be prompted with how much swag you’ve collected on a ship when you prepare to exit it, so you won’t accidently miss any; though whether or not it’s worth heading back to get some while turrets and scrappers are pouring out of the walls is another matter entirely.
Another fun (and purely cosmetic) feature is, oddly, hats. Hats are the big fashion in SteamWorld Heist, and you’ll often find new enemies wearing all sorts of hats. See one you like? A well-aimed shot directly at their hat will blow it straight off of their head, ready for grabbing, but be careful — enemies can shoot your hats off too, and if you leave them behind without recollecting it, it’ll be gone.
It may sound silly, but finding a unique enemy with a nice hat really increases the pressure of combat, as you want to be careful to shoot their hat off for later collection before attacking them; once you’ve killed an enemy, you lose that chance to take their hat.
Characters you manage and hire along the way all develop in different ways as they gain XP in successsful missions. Different classes affect the strengths and abilities each will develop; vanguards like to get up in the enemy’s face and will grow tanky, while sentries prefer to hang back and will gain bonuses for stationary, long-distance assault. Anyone dying in a mission will be reassembled back on your home ship, but they’ll forfeit any XP gains from that attempt.
SteamWorld Heist is a fun, light-hearted game that takes many of the best elements of modern turn-based shooters and mashes them up nicely, adding a dash of fantastic steampunk aesthetic and music. Great bang for the buck.