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This Heist will be Rewarding, Prepare for Boarding in SteamWorld Heist!

When I first heard that the sequel to one of my favorite indie titles (and also one of the first games I reviewed for Pixlbot!) was going to be a turn based shooting game… I wasn’t sold. I should correct that. After SteamWorld Tower Defense and SteamWorld Dig, I was already eagerly awaiting whatever Image & Form would do next. But I’ve got a bit of a stigma for not being able to play turn based games. Something about the wait, or the movement speeds, maybe it’s the anxiety? All I know is that┬ámy fears were for nothing. Image & Form nailed it.

When you first load up SteamWorld Heist you’ll be greeted to an old-timey broadcast about life after the earth has blown up. With the cowbots digging and trying to farm all the remaining moisture and dealing with nefarious villains. When even the “good guys” are using their power against hard working folks, what do you do? You join the bad guys! Introducing Captain Piper. While not exactly a bad guy, or even a guy, she’s not afraid to get her hands dirty to do whatever she has to for her crew and the innocent cowbots. If that means she gets a slick new hat, so be it! The cast of characters you meet in SteamWorld Heist are all quite unique and have witty dialogue. The same speech sound style from SteamWorld Dig returns, despite the musical Steam Powered Giraffe belting out tunes in the bars, but it has a certain charm to it. All around, SteamWorld Heist continues the SteamWorld series’ amazing characters. Though Piper and her gang are a bit rough around the edges, as you progress through the story they quickly become a lovable bunch and a great group of heroes to follow.

The gameplay in SteamWorld Heist was originally one of my biggest concerns. The thought of anything SteamWorld_Heist_3DS_Screenshot_01_Ricochetthat isn’t Pokemon or Fire Emblem being turn based is a nightmare to me, but Image & Form somehow made it interesting to me. Upon moving, you’ve got a certain amount of distance to cross. At the end of this path you’re able to aim your weapon to take down your enemies. The interesting thing about the gunplay in SteamWorld Heist is the ricochet of the bullets. I’ve made some incredibly close headshots simply by bouncing a bullet between two walls and against their skull. It really adds an extra depth to the game. Line yourself up to attack and be able to make a shot, but try to avoid lining a shot up for the enemy as well. Add a ton of weapons and a bucketload of collectible hats and you’ve got a fun and unique turn based game. If I had to criticize anything about the gameplay, I’d likely say that I’m not a huge fan of having to buy and watch how much you’re carrying at the end of a level. You’ll oftentimes find yourself having to sell an item you’d rather keep.

The art direction from the previous titles continues to evolve and grow with SteamWorld Heist, quickly gaining an interesting feel. While SteamWorld Dig had moments where you’re constantly feeling like you’re seeing similar environments (until you keep digging that is…), SteamWorld Heist has each level feeling like an actual ship. While some may look similar, layouts, designs, and even background pieces differ among the different areas. The effects when you shoot an enemy’s cap off their head, or blow them to scraps really show off the love that the guys at Image & Form have for design. Combine this with a whole plethora of sound effects and the music and you’ve got something truly deep.

SteamWorld_Heist_3DS_Screenshot_09_Steam_Powered_GiraffeWhile I’m on the topic of the music, when I first played SteamWorld Dig, I had joked with my roommate ad site partner Katie that I’d love to see Steam Powered Giraffe in the game. So when it was revealed that not only were they going to be in the next SteamWorld game, but doing the music? You can imagine my excitement. Yet again, they followed through. The soundtrack for SteamWorld Heist is among the best environmental sounds I’ve heard in a game, combined with entering a bar and hearing the band hiss and spring to life. If you’ve never seen a SteamPowered Giraffe concert, It’s something I highly suggest. I’ve put the video for “The Stars” below this section, and highly recommend watching it. The band does an amazing job at telling the stories of SteamWorld, as well as remixing their classic tunes to fit in the SteamWorld style. Hearing classic Steam Powered Giraffe songs in a new style is just an extra treat. Worried that even with headphones, you can’t get enough of the music? Don’t worry: Steam Powered Giraffe is selling the album separately, and it’s well worth the money. The audio direction in the title goes perfectly with the art style, and it truly feels like a complete experience. I won’t give anything away, but when you face your first major boss, make sure that your volume is up upon completing the level!

SteamWorld Heist is one of the most complete packages I’ve seen on the eShop in recent history. While some might question the price point, the amount of content is easily worth the price. Not only that, if you’re purchasing the title in the first month you can pick it up for 15% off, alongside a free home menu theme! These are both only available until December 31st, after that they’re gone! Image & Form has also stated that they’re already working on a FREE content update (NOT just a bug patch! Not that they make buggy games anyways….) that will release in January 2016. This update will add a ton of new languages as well as more fun stuff that’ll be revealed soon. Overall, SteamWorld Heist isn’t what I wanted, but it’s exactly what I needed. After picking the title up, I’m not even sure how we could go back to just digging….

Pros:
  • A truly unique story with tons of hilarious characters.
  • Great turn-based gunplay that even those that fear turn-based will love.
  • A fantastic soundtrack by the bots of Steam Powered Giraffe.
  • You can wear a cat in a hat. IN a hat! It's amazing!
Cons:
  • Controls can be confusing at first, but you quickly adjust. Providing the option to switch the D-Pad with the Control Stick controls would alleviate this!
  • The 3DS screen, even on the New 3DS simply can't project just how amazing the art is. I can't wait to see this on other systems.
Graphics Pixl Score 4 4
Story Pixl Score 5 5
Sound Pixl Score 5 5
Controls Pixl Score 4 4
Fun Factor Pixl Score 5 5