There’s something really pleasing and satisfying about the rise of indie gaming through Steam, the PC gaming platform and online store. Small scale developers have really taken on the idea that you can make a good game without needing cutting edge 3D graphics or huge teams of programmers, but instead you just need good art (not the same as advanced graphics) and a solid game idea. This is where games like SteamWorld Heist step in with exciting, addictive gameplay at a low price.
Retro and new at the same time
SteamWorld Heist is about a team of steam powered pirates, of whom you’re the daring captain. Command them to attack installations and gradually upgrade their abilities. The surprising thing about this game is that it’s actually a 2D side-scrolling platformer. There are many games being produced in this genre now, despite the fact that it was once the province of the Genesis/Mega Drive and SNES. The appeal of these games is that they’re easy to pick up, have small download sizes, require very little system power and they tend to be significantly cheaper than AAA titles. Don’t let the idea of a 2D game put you off visually, either, as the artwork in this game is flashy, high quality and has tons of character.
Powered by much more than steam!
The central mechanic of SteamWorld Heist is not as direct as your average 2D platformer, instead using a turn-based system. This gives the game an element of tactics and strategy. However, the action and element of skill is still kept intact because you aim your robots’ guns manually! So this is a kind of hybrid, where you use tactics to put your men in place, then get to blast away yourself to stay hooked into the combat. The artwork of the game has a lot of charm, with quirky cartoon-like steam pirates and a series of highly detailed environments. The robot crew has a lot of character and you’ll soon come to have a favorite. The game’s arc allows you to upgrade several aspects of the crew, including weapons, unique abilities and hats! This means that you have some replayability too, as well as an appealing difficulty arc which starts simple and builds up gradually. This innovative game has surprised a lot of players and though it is small, it supplies 15-20 hours of gameplay for one playthrough.
Steaming ahead of competitors
The blend of strategy and skill in SteamWorld Heist should appeal to those who enjoy strategy games but don’t like to rely on chance, plus those who enjoy a 2D action game but don’t want anything too frantic. For a casual game with depth and character, this is a surprising winner and it looks set to gain a lot of DLC and expansions too. The only downside is that this isn’t a big AAA title with the associated bells and whistles, but for indie gamers that’s not an issue at all.