Thanks to Image and Form for the review code
Title: Steamworld Heist
System: 3DS (eShop)
Release Date: 12/14/2015
In this entry of the Steamworld Series, you take control of a group of Steambots who must discover the mysteries and corruption of the world around them by flying throughout the galaxy, defeating all sorts of rogues in order to restore peace!
Due to the shift in genre, Steamworld Heist changes the interface quite a bit, while still retaining a cel-shaded art style similar to the one found in SteamWorld Dig. What makes Heist stand out a bit more than Dig, however is the inclusion of a nice variety of characters, each with their own personality and in a bigger variety from the NPCs that you could encounter in Dig, adding a bit more charm to this game.
Music and Sound
Similar to Steamworld Dig, the game starts out with an ambient tone for its background music, and until you reach the second world and onwards it’ll stay that way. Luckily once you do reach the second world, there’s a bit more variety added to keep things different every once in a while, and it’s nice to see the game try to offer a better range of music compared to its predecessor. There’s even some narration during the occasional cutscene, which is a pleasant surprise.
Despite the change from a MetroidVania adventure game to a Strategy RPG, Steamworld Heist still manages to retain some of the same aspects from Dig, such as the focus on water and randomly generated terrain. When playing through the first few missions of the game, you’ll easily get the hang of the controls. The R button lets you choose between different abilities on your character, while the A button is used to activate those abilities. Movement is simple, with the D-Pad or Circle Pad being used to carefully navigate your Steambots from one side of a room to another, with the Y button capable of ending a turn by guarding.
During your spacial journey, Piper will encounter a good variety of Steambots, each with their own personality, strengths and weaknesses. Depending on how much water/completion stars you have with you at the time, you may be able to recruit them to join your team! The best part about all this is that instead of the new recruits being nothing more than lazy clones of other members, they all have their own unique abilities and stat growth. For example Ivanski is strong and bulky, while Sally is nimble and precise. This opens the door for a nice variety of team layouts, which really help a lot in the tougher difficulties.
Speaking of which, now’s the time to finally come to the dreaded difficulty options. In Steamworld Heist you are able to adjust the difficulty of the game anytime before starting a level. Find a level too easy? Increase it, while doing the same if you find a level too hard. Of course, the biggest goal with these options is sticking to one difficulty from beginning to end, since not only do you get a better challenge in the levels themselves, but you also get XP bonuses for completing such an ordeal.
This is where I confess to the embarrassing reason for this review taking so long. When I was in the process of playing the game for the review, I decided to ask the devs if they wouldn’t mind me completing the entire game 100% before writing a review, and they agreed. What I didn’t think of at the time was how great it would be if I got 100% on Elite, the hardest mode in the entire game. Big mistake, since in Elite mode enemies hit hard and come out of very tricky places, requiring you to use your skills wisely in order to get the perfect ranking on every stage. Sometimes you’ll come across an easy stage that you can grind the XP bonuses on, but overall it ends up turning from a relatively relaxing game to one fierce battle after another, and despite my hopes of making such an accomplishment, I gave up after hours of frustration and went to Casual to see more of the game and its mechanics.
Normally when I give myself a challenge I aim to complete it no matter what, but with Steamworld Heist, Elite is for ultimate masters of the game only, and is NOT recommended if you just want a small increase. (That would go to the Veteran difficulty.) Still, I feel that my time spent with the game over the past nine months was well worth it, allowing me to see the game’s improvements and learn the nature of the difficulty the hard way.
In conclusion, Steamworld Heist is exactly the sort of sequel you’d expect from a great game, being the type that isn’t afraid to change the genre or the pace of the game while still keeping a familiar art style and engaging world. Despite the hefty price tag of $20, I did enjoy my time with the game immensely, and if my notes about the different difficulties and amount of missions to do didn’t indicate this already, then let me say that this game will certainly give you your money’s worth. Luckily, at the time of publishing this review a retail compilation for the Wii U is near release, combining both this title and Dig in a nice bundle. If you’re on the fence for one game, then why not go for both of the games and get a good deal? No matter how you decide to jump into this game, Steamworld Heist is a very challenging and rewarding adventure, regardless of platform, and I recommend that you pick it up if you like strategy RPGs. Just don’t become cocky like me and try to complete a challenge that’s for experts only! I give Steamworld Heist a 8 out of 10.