Imagine for a moment an FPS without the reflexes, lobby swearing, and loot boxes. That, in a nutshell, is SteamWorld Heist. SteamWorld is a series of games where many of the games are different genres, most of the experiences are therefore different. This gives the devs an amazing tool to reach a wide audience. In fact, the unofficial name I’ve coined for SteamWorld Heist is: ”The perfect shooter for the disabled”.
You see, as a disabled gamer, reflex intensive games are tough as my muscles don’t work the way my brain signals them to. This, among other things, causes delays in reaction time. This, in turn, spells disaster for me in the traditional FPS format. Instead of setting the kill stat, SteamWorld Heist resolves this by shifting to a turn-based system. It also can be controlled with just two buttons: the left mouse button and Space bar. Finally, to complete the accessibility trifecta, it includes a nice simplified explanation of cerebral palsy
Each turn has two phases: move and shoot. You can also move extra spaces but then you lose the shoot phase. When you start you‘ll have two robots, each with a default three to four damage weapon. As you continue to play you will pick up loot in “swag” bags that look like they came from Mr. Monopoly’s house. You get weapons that do more damage and weapons of different types.
I died. I died a lot.
Each time though, it was my own damn fault. In one level I played, I paid no attention to the fact that the ship the level was set inside was set to self-destruct so I blew into a million pieces. In another, I split up my team up and each move was a stupid, stupid moves. Despite the penalty for death being harsh, and when I say harsh, I mean you lose twenty-five percent of your Gallons (in-game currency). I was super sucked in and ready for attempt two, three, four, five, six, and so on…
By no means is this game perfect. What is the difference between the weapon types? Why buy stuff with Gallons anything you need can be found on board the ships you explore? Why hire more than three people when no mission uses more than three? These are a few of the questions I had while playing. In the grand scheme of things, none of these questions subtracted from my enjoyment one bit. This is a game driven by its core game-play, not an economy or lore.
Another important element is the fact that ships are randomly generated. Sometimes, though, the RNG screws you by placing too many enemies in one room causing you to need you to abort and start over. Having each attempt be as new as the last ramps up the replayability factor.
To end this piece I want to briefly touch on what was done accessibility-wise to make this an enjoyable experience:
- No reflexes-Letting users who have more time need it is critical as it allows the player to decide how to interact in the environment around them.
- A simple control scheme helps those with weaker muscles who can’t hold buttons or press them rapidly
- No middle mouse button, a lot of specially designed mice such as trackballs don’t have one.
SteamWorld Heist was developed by Image&Form
Available: Steam, PS4, PS Vita, PS3, Wii U, and 3DS, IOS, and Switch
Price: 19.99 Switch (includes DLC), 9.99 for iOS, and 14.99 for everything else.
A Steam review key was provided for this review.
Djf1107 has awarded SteamWorld Heist the Indie Gamer Team Seal of Approval.