Also On: PS4, 3DS, PC
Publisher: Image & Form
Developer: Image & Form
There's something undeniably ballsy about the mere existence of SteamWorld Heist. After all, its predecessor, SteamWorld Dig, was a decent-sized hit across a multitude of platforms. Lots of people, myself included, were eager to see what Image & Form would do next with the franchise. And in response to that anticipation, the developers released a follow-up that has absolutely nothing in common with their first game. It was a pretty bold move on their part — one that, to their credit, absolutely paid off.
My colleague Dustin Chadwell covered SteamWorld Heist when it first came out on the 3DS last year, and truthfully, pretty much everything he said then goes double for the PlayStation versions. It's still a unique take on the turn-based strategy genre. It's still got an enjoyably intuitive combat system. And it's still got oodles of steampunk charm.
For what it's worth, I think SteamWorld Heist is actually far superior to the first SteamWorld game, for the simple reason that it's a much more focused experience. Whereas Dig had a fairly open-ended approach, and just encouraged players to go out there and dig as far down as they possibly could, Heist has a more linear narrative structure and a more straightforward approach to exploration. It lays out its interstellar world in a clear, easy-to-follow manner, and there's no guesswork as to what you're supposed to do next.
It applies this straightforward approach to individual missions as well: when your ship docks at a new station, you know exactly what your goals are. Whether it's eliminating all your enemies, capturing all the loot, or doing any number of other tasks, you never have to double-back and wonder whether you're missed something important. For those people who just want open-ended exploration and digging, of course, this may come as a letdown, but if you want to see the SteamWorld aesthetic applied to a coherent story, this is the game for you.
If nothing else, at least, it's certainly the game for me, and for my Vita. I loved being able play the game's short missions on the go, I loved how replayable the levels were with their 3-star ratings, I loved seeing the aesthetic of the original expanded in a whole new way. In short: I loved SteamWorld Heist.