Steamworld Dig was a surprise success for developers Image and Form. The game was very well received by critics and fans alike, standing at a "Very Positive" rating on Steam and an 82 on Metacritic for both PS4 and 3DS. While Steamworld Dig was a 2D platformer with an emphasis on digging and exploration, the upcoming Steamworld Heist isn't just more of the same.
When speaking to the Image and Form CEO Brjann Sigurgeisson, he said that the surprise success of Steamworld Dig incentivized them to evolve the IP into something new. Apparently while the Image and Form team was on their lunch break, they would play a lot of XCOM. This triggered a discussion as to how the XCOM formula would work in 2D environment and more importantly in the Steamworld universe. Thus Steamworld Heist was born.
If you go onto the developer's YouTube channel, you will see a mixed reception to the change from 2D mining platformer to a 2D turn based strategy. While I doubt those who don't get along with turn based strategy will be suddenly converted, I'm happy to say that Heist is an excellent example of the genre and is looking to be a fantastic addition to the series.
The base gameplay for Steamworld Heist involves you controlling Captain Piper and her crew of robots as you combat your way through enemy ships and scavenging remains of a destroyed world. You control each party member individually, moving them to cover, aiming their shots, using their skills, etc.
Steamworld Heist is a simple yet elegant take on turn based strategy that remained enjoyable for the time I had with the game. The small differences to the characters are amplified when considering the simple scope of the gameplay. One character has a laser sight, which can be extremely useful for sniping over long distances; one has a shotgun that spreads, meaning that you have to be close to do any sort of damage; one has a high damage single shot pistol that requires very precise aiming; etc. I don't know the amount of characters nor the full extent to which they differ, so these small differences might not be enough to sustain some players over the full play time.
The art design has improved quite drastically, and while there was nothing technically wrong with Steamworld Dig's art, you can tell that Image and Form had a far greater budget going in this time and could spend time making the game look as wonderfully moody and rustic as possible—and it shows. The character designs are especially unique and creative, helping characterize units in a way that is immediately noticeable but not cliche.
Steamworld Heist also aims to be longer, with the developer estimating around 16 hours for an average completion time. Other features such as a difficulty settings have been added to hopefully encourage replay value, which Sigurgeisson said was a recurring critique with Steamworld Dig.
I cannot promise that those fans of Steamworld Dig will automatically love Steamworld Heist, but what I can say as someone who did not play either Steamworld Dig or Steamworld Tower Defense, I am definitely interested in what Steamworld Heist has to offer, and it has encouraged me to finally get around to properly checking out the series. As a small turn based strategy title, Steamworld Heist is looking pretty damn promising.
Steamworld Heist will be debuting on the 3DS sometime in the fall with various other versions including PS4, PC, and WiiU versions coming later at an unknown date.