Saturday, October 3, 2015

SteamWorld Heist doesn't look amazing, but Image & Form have credit.

What we're shown, in this trailer, is almost-instantly understood by the viewer.  It's XCOM or Valkyria Chronicles in 2D with cool cartoony steambots in turn-based shootouts.  There's half-cover and full cover, explosive barrels, enemy turrets and you have complete control over your aiming reticle.

It looks too simple, and not mechanically deep - like something that would get boring very quickly - but snuffling around in the game's coverage, at least, suggests that those who've gone hands-on feel Heist has a solid grasp of the XCOM formula, noting the dramatic differences in the abilities of your crew and how they're best utilized.

The other thing that gives me (actually pretty significant) hope is just the existence - and quality - of SteamWorld Dig.

Steamworld Dig is equally simple, at first glance, but developer Image & Form layers new mechanics and game-changing skills throughout the charming platformer to ensure it keeps your attention and keeps drawing you forward as it becomes increasingly complex.  Its screenshots and trailers don't speak to that, but - like Klei Entertainment and Drinkbox Studios - Dig's design is so well-considered that the developer has earned significant credit, with yours truly.

I'm cool that the trailer at top seems a bit too simple, just like I'm cool that Severed looks weird and unlike anything Drinkbox has done in the past - Image & Form have done good, solid work, and I believe they'll do it again with SteamWorld Heist.

So really, this is all I (and you) need to know:

SteamWorld Heist is a 2D turn-based cartoony western sci-fi riff on XCOM and yes, it has procedurally-generated levels.

It's coming to 3DS this fall, with Wii U, Steam, PS4, Vita and Xbox One ports to follow. I probably won't get to play it until 2016 - but I've asked them for clarification on that, and I'll update if they respond.

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