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Thread: SteamWorld games

  1. #1
    Registered: Jan 2001
    Location: the Sheeple Pen

    SteamWorld games

    Henke said that Steamworld Heist was his 2nd favourite game of 2016, and because it was cheap (it was in some bundle not too long ago) and it looked quite fun in screenshots, I thought that I'd give it a shot. The fact that Steamworld Heist is a side-scrolling turn-based action/strategy game was something that I really wasn't expecting, but the game turned out to be pretty awesome!

    The controls in Steamworld Heist are really easy to learn, at least on gamepad. The cool feature that separates this game from other TBS games is that you actually have to aim your shots manually - whether you hit your target or not is all about your own skill, which can be quite satisfying after you've pulled off a great shot. The cartoon-style graphics fit in nicely and all the different steambots that you can hire in your team are quite sympathetic and a lot of fun. Every mission (apart from some boss fights I guess?) is at least partially randomly generated, which has both its upsides and downsides; it definitely makes things more interesting and challenging, but sometimes the game can generate some rather unfair or even a bit annoying maps. It's no big deal though, it's part of the challenge I suppose. I also had some other frustrating moments early on in the game before I learned what terrain can be shot through and what can not.

    There are nine bots that you can hire in your team as you progress in the game. Each character has its unique skills and abilities, and they get more as they gain more experience. It really helps if you learn how to take advantage of these abilities. For example, a bounty hunter bot called Sally has a special ability that gives her another shot every time she kills an enemy bot. With careful planning, efficient teamwork, accurate shooting, and a little bit of luck, it's possible to eliminate a room full enemy bots in one single turn with one character, and turn a desperate situation into victory. Some abilities may seem a bit overpowered (but their use is limited), and I played most of the game with the same 4-5 characters, but sometimes it helps to mix things up a bit. And it's definitely more fun that way, so I ended up leveling up each character to their max level.

    There are also quite a lot of different weapons and items that you can find or buy throughout the game. The weapons are class-restricted, so for example only your Sharpshooter-class bots can use the sniper rifles with laser sights as seen in the screenshot above. Every character also has two item slots, so they can bring grenades and jetpacks and speed boots and medikits (etc) with them, depending on what sort of a mission you've got ahead of you. For a quick heist where speed is the key, you might want to leave your sharpshooters out of the team, because they often can't move and shoot during the same turn, so they would just slow down the whole team. Or you might want to leave your bazooka-carrying Vanguards and grenades out if you're about to board an enemy ship that is full of explosives. So there are a lot of options to choose from, but as with the different characters, I tended to use the same sort of weapons and items throughout the game: I found Shotguns and most machine guns too unreliable (can't guarantee a good hit even from a rather close distance), most of the big guns with bouncy shells were too dangerous to use, and melee seemed quite useless.

    However, the biggest flaw in Steamworld Heist in my opinion is the balancing of difficulty. Even in normal difficulty the game seems quite challenging at first (at least I died quite a lot), but after a few heists you start to get some better loot, and things get a lot easier. In my experience Steamworld Heist actually gets easier towards the end of the game, and sometimes things are just too easy. The boss fights are awesome though! I probably wouldn't recommend the hardest difficult to anyone who's new to the game, but I suppose that an experienced strategy gamer could start with it without too much trouble.

    It doesn't happen very often with new games for me, but I was hooked almost instantly when I first tried Steamworld Heist. 59 in-game hours later I've seen pretty much everything that the game has to offer. I've completed the game twice, finished each mission with the best rating in the hardest difficulty, played the Outsider DLC (a few new heists + a new playable character + some new hats = not essential but fun enough), gotten all the hats and achievements that I care about, etc... This one's definitely one of the best games that I've played in a long time, and it's quite a unique experience that I would gladly recommend to everyone.

    I still wonder what henke's #1 favourite game of 2016 was though.

  2. #2
    Registered: Jan 2001
    Location: the Sheeple Pen
    After beating Steamworld Heist and seeing everything that it has to offer, I was left with a void in my life. What to do now? How am I supposed to take my daily steambot-dose?

    Then, one day while I was browsing through the Steam Summer Sale catalogue, I saw it. SteamWorld Dig.

    STEAMWORLD DIG. What is that?

    It's another game based in SteamWorld. A totally different kind of a game compared to Steamworld Heist from a few years ago, but it has steambots! At around two dollars, it was an insta-buy for me.

    There must be a word for these kind of games, but I have no idea what that would be. I'm gonna call it a tile-digging action game.

    So yeah, it's a very simple game. But damn, just like Steamworld Heist, it's so addictive. You start digging from ground level, and the deeper you dig, the better treasures and nastier critters you find. To be able to dig deeper, you'll have to upgrade your pick-axe and buy other mining equipment, and to do so, you'll need to find gems and sell them in the town above you. And that's pretty much the whole game in a nutshell. Occasionally there are things that may fall on your head if you're not careful, and the underground creatures may pose some threat to you, but I wouldn't say that Steamworld Dig is a very challenging game. You can't really fail. It's more like one of those casual games that you play for a few minutes when you're sitting in a bus on your way home, but that's not a bad thing at all. It's a very relaxing game... well, most of the time anyway.

    There are three bars in the interface that you need to pay attention to. The first one's the Health bar; well that's obvious. Then there's the Light bar; the amount of gas or oil or whatever that is left in your lantern. When the bar is empty and the lantern goes dark, it's hard to do any more digging and it's time to head back to the surface. The last one's the Water bar (can't be seen in the screenshot above). You need water to use the different steam-based movement/attack skills that you learn during the game and to use the drill for some heavy digging. You can fill the Water bar in underground water pools that you can find here and there. Each of the three bars can be upgraded; you can buy better armor, bigger water tanks and more efficient steam technology, and better lanterns in town. You can also enlarge your inventory in town, so that you can go beneath the surface again and bring back even more gems to sell in town, so that you can buy better equipment and even more inventory space, and then go back beneath the surface once again, and so on... It sounds quite repetitive, and I suppose that it is, but I just couldn't stop digging.

    The Light bar caused some minor annoyance for me, because even with all the upgrades it doesn't really last that long. Five minutes, I think. Even before the bar is empty the light starts to dim a little by little, so you'll have to climb all the way back to the surface every few minutes, and climbing alone can take quite a while especially if you're very deep and far away from a teleporter (you can buy teleporters too but those are kinda expensive...) I wish that the light lasted a little bit longer. The underground critters also drop health/light/water refill things, but of course you'll never find those when you really need them.

    You'll also find some underground mini-dungeons along your way to the bottom of the world, and in those you'll find a bit more action and monster bashing than on the "main map". There's also some sort of a story, but really, the game's all about digging. Perhaps some people may find that boring as hell, and perhaps some more challenge would have been nice, but I enjoyed Steamworld Dig's light-hearted and fun approach. There was something quite exciting about exploring the underworld too, even though I can't really even explain what made it so exciting.

    It took me about nine hours to finish Steamworld Dig, and once again I think I've done everything that you can possibly do in the game (apart from some real time-sink achievements). I believe that I explored every corner of the map, found every single treasure under the ground, and purchased every single item that they sold in the town above the surface. Someone a bit less obsessive probably could have finished the game a lot quicker, and in fact there's a "complete the game in less than 2h 30mins" achievement, so I suppose that it can be done.

    Steamworld Heist is definitely the better of the two Steamworld games, but if you're looking for something simple and relaxing, or if you need some more steambots in your life like me, you can't go wrong with Steamworld Dig.

    Oh, and SteamWorld Dig 2 is supposed to come out at the end of this summer, and it's looking pretty good!

  3. #3
    Registered: Sep 2000
    Location: Hong Kong
    SteamWorld Dig was my introduction to the series. While it seemed ok'ish, I got bored with it fairly quickly so never really invested enough time see if it picks up later on.

    Heist on the other hand is a much improved formula from what little I've played of it so far and looking forward to getting more into it. It's amazing how much personality they've managed to cram into those little robots. Between Hitman 2016 (just finished), Hollow Knight and Heist, it's been one successful Steam sale (no pun intended).

  4. #4
    Level 10,000 achieved
    Registered: Mar 2001
    Location: Finland
    I'm glad you liked it, Tomi!

    About the RNG, I do like randomness in how a TBS generates it's levels, but not in the combat. Which is why I much prefer games like Frozen Synapse, Invisible Inc, and this, to stuff like XCOM. If a game presents a challenging level layout then it's up to me, the player, to do what I can with it, but if chance of hitting a target is left up to the computer then I quickly get frustrated as hell.

    About Steamworld Dig, I also played it after Heist, but I couldn't really get into it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tomi View Post
    I still wonder what henke's #1 favourite game of 2016 was though.
    Any excuse to post my Top 16 of 16 videocountdown again! (which is out of order, but there's a proper list at the end)

  5. #5
    Registered: Mar 2001
    Location: Melbourne, Australia
    I played Steamworld Dig a few years ago. Great little Metroidvania style game.

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by icemann View Post
    I played Steamworld Dig a few years ago. Great little Metroidvania style game.
    Same here, quite a fun little game.

  7. #7
    Registered: Apr 2003
    Location: flapping in the wind
    I haven't gotten around to updating my [redacted] post, but I've got an extra copy of Heist if anyone's itching to play it.

  8. #8
    Registered: Jan 2001
    Location: the Sheeple Pen
    I had forgotten all about this thread, but I'll do a bit of thread necromancy and post here, instead of just dumping this in the "what are you playing now?" thread...

    So I just finished Steamworld Dig 2 yesterday. I don't even know why it took me so long, considering how much I've enjoyed the earlier Steamworld games. At first the game seems like its predecessor, only better in just about every way. Prettier, smoother controls, more tools and skills to play with, more variety in the places that you can explore. Sounds exciting, and I really enjoyed the first couple of hours in Steamworld Dig 2. But somehow I still kinda dig the first game a bit more, this one just didn't impress me as much. Don't get me wrong, Steamworld Dig 2 is also an awesome game, another "great little Metroidvania style game", but there's something a bit frustrating about its metroidvaniaism.

    I spent those first couple of hours trying to explore every nook and cranny of the dungeon with my basic tools, and finding all those little secrets felt fun and rewarding. However, not much later I got my hands on all sorts of gadgets that for example mark hidden treasures on the mini-map, and highlight secret walls when I'm close enough to them. There's also a jetpack to help you reach those places with ease. All that turned exploring more like a chore for the rest of the game, and it also made me feel that I had just wasted my time earlier. Not only that, but Steamworld Dig 2 is also one of the easiest games that I've played for a while, there's really not much of a challenge there, especially when you've found all those gadgets to play with.

    Now, I feel a bit bad about being so negative about this little gem. I suppose it's just easier to concentrate on the negatives when everything else about the game is so well done. Steamworld is fast becoming my favourite game world, and this one's definitely got some lovely Steamworld vibes. The characters are sympathetic and likeable, and there are a lot of funny pop culture references and silly little jokes all over the place. If I had to describe Steamworld Dig 2 in one word, it'd be "nice". It's a proper feel-good game.

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