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SteamWorld Heist review for 3DS

Platform: 3DS
Publisher: Image & Form
Developer: Image & Form
Medium: Digital
Players: 1
Online: No
ESRB: E10+

SteamWorld Heist is developer Image & Form’s first follow-up to their successful, and remarkably fun, SteamWorld Dig, which released 2 years ago on 3DS and has since been ported to just about every platform imaginable. While Heist is a follow-up, it’s not a sequel. It features the same steampunk, robot aesthetic of Dig, but with all new mechanics, characters, and story rounding out this unique strategy experience.

SteamWorld Heist is a turn-based strategy game from a 2D side-scrolling perspective, featuring randomly generated stages across a number of different areas. You command a small crew of robot pirates as they take down various enemies, collect loot, earn experience, and gain new abilities for combat. It’s a very unique take on the strategy formula, offering up a fair amount of difficulty, content, and story to make your way through.

SteamWorld Heist screenshot 07Combat comes in the form of equippable pistols, shotguns, rocket launchers and other ranged weapon types. Each character you can control is essentially a class, limiting their ability to certain weapon types, but with better movement, health, or other functions that make them unique from one another. You can also equip additional tools, like armor, or melee weapons, with loadouts that are changeable in-between stages.

At the onset of a stage, your crew will board an opposing ship, with various structural layouts, obstacles, cover items, enemy types, and hazards. Some ships feature vertical designs, horizontal, or a mix of both. Every stage tends to revolve around the same objective, collecting a set number of loot bags before exiting the ship. You can opt to fully clear a stage, going past the minimum required loot grabs, and doing so will earn you bonus stars at the end, going towards a full clear of the level. These stars aren’t just for showing off, and act as one of the two currencies in the game used to purchase weapons, items, and new crewmates.

SteamWorld Heist screenshot 04SteamWorld Heist tells you that there’s no added incentive to fighting enemy robots, but combat is pretty much inevitable. Thankfully, it’s also a load of fun, with strategic shootouts that have you bouncing bullets off nearby walls, ceilings and other objects in an effort to hit enemies in hard to reach spots. Since the game is turn based, you’ll typically start off by moving your crew one at a time into position around the ship. Crewmates have a set number of steps they can take, and then they can opt to either attack, heal, or move again before finishing their turn. There’s a fair amount of strategy involved in knowing when to move and not to move, with various objects scattered around the stage to use as cover. As you progress you’ll encounter additional mechanics that add to the strategy element nicely, enough so that by the end of the game you’ll be managing a variety of tactics at your disposal.

Enemies aren’t exactly pushovers either. They’ll aggressively move towards your team, but will likewise know when to shoot and when to move. They also come equipped with different weapon types, like piercing weapons or explosives, so you’ll always want to plan your loadouts accordingly. There’s also a number of challenging boss encounters that spice up SteamWorld Heist’s standard combat mechanics, which are generally fun and engaging as opposed to frustrating and annoying.

SteamWorld Heist screenshot 05I’ve definitely enjoyed my time spent with SteamWorld Heist. It’s a remarkably different game from SteamWorld Dig, but still captures the look and feel of it’s predecessor quite nicely. It’s easily one of my favorite 3DS titles released this year, and it’s certainly worth a look. Whether you were a fan of SteamWorld Dig or not, I think you’ll find that Heist offers up a considerable departure from the previous game, along with a much lengthier and challenging campaign. SteamWorld Heist is well-worth checking out, and makes for a perfect holiday traveling game.

Grade: A

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