Creeping quietly onto 3DS in 2013, SteamWorld Dig enjoyed huge success that I doubt even developers Image and Form could have imagined. I wasn’t sure what to expect from a little robot holding a pickaxe – some cheap mobile game port perhaps? What I ended playing and loving was an expertly crafted little gem that presented an interesting underground world to explore with a pleasing steampunk art style. Fast forward two years and several HD remakes later and we have the imminent release of SteamWorld Heist.

I got the chance to play a close to finished build of Heist at this year’s EGX (Britain’s E3 cousin). SteamWorld Dig was about a little robot digging through an underground labyrinth for resources to help build a new town in a post apocalyptic wasteland. It mixed platforming and exploration to that of a Metroid game but had enough new ideas and a lot of heart to provide a fresh gameplay experience. SteamWorld Heist takes a dramatic turn in genre. Taking influence from XCOM, Heist is a 2D turn based RTS with light RPG elements. Visually it looks unique and presents a fresh take on familiar mechanics despite wearing influences proudly on its sleeve.

The steampunk art style remains and has improved. Running at 60fps, Heist is looking impressive on the titular 3DS screens. Spaceships that you board pop with crisp colour and stylish visual detail. I got the chance to battle through a couple of ships that act as levels in progressive worlds. Strategy plays a great part in achieving a three star rating at the end of a level. Taking cover and performing skill shots will increase your chances of obtaining a maximum score. You can choose between many robots (male or female) to play as and take allies with you into battle. Each can be customised from weapon load-outs to what hat they can wear. A yellow rubber duck is available to wear as a hat if you’re feeling a more hipster robot is to your liking.


Once you board a ship, an area inside will light up to reveal enemy positions. Following 2D side-scrolling planes, it’s easy and intuitive to place where you want to go. If you’re path line remains an orange glow then you can stop and take a shot at an enemy. If it turns blue then you can move to a new position but can’t take a shot. Ideally a blue location is where you take cover and end your turn. Weapons I used included a pistol with a laser sight that helps to pinpoint head shots for maximum damage, but the Uzi was better to use in close quarters combat. Collecting loot in each level will randomly reward you with perks to better equip your soldiers. These light RPG elements makes exploration fun and rewards careful tactical planning when battling enemy robots. To get that high score, you need to get creative with your shooting. Ricocheting is a skill that will improve your score and grants a sense of satisfaction when your shot dances around an enemy bouncing off three walls before impacting. As a quirky extra, all robots wear a hat. If you shoot them off, you get to keep it. Nice.

I’m very excited for SteamWorld Heist when it releases later this year. It looks set to be that perfect pick up and play game that can be enjoyed in short bursts. For what I’ve played it’s polished, beautiful and a lot of fun.

About The Author

I play games and watch movies. I then have a compulsion to share my thoughts with words and hope you enjoy them. All this from a little town in North Wales. Favourite game(s) - Metroid Prime and Super Castlevania IV. Favourite movie (s) - Blade Runner and Fellowship of the Ring. Follow me on twitter @MRvarley64

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