Steamworld Heist (Switch, PS4, PC, Xbox One, NDS, Mobile)

The Switch is known for great arcade gaming, but Steamworld Heist: Ultimate Edition shows that it can also be great for pick-up and play tactical gaming. This turn-based, side-scrolling, tactical RPG features steampunk robots exploring the solar system in their run down spaceship. Bumbling robot adventurers and tactical battles combine with a skill system and weapon load-out options to provide a surprisingly deep tactical experience. Switch gamers looking for a little squad-based tactical battles should check out the game.

Steamworld Heist is a tactical combat RPG hybrid, where you send a small team of robots out on missions to explore other ships and space stations on a quest for loot, glory, and the occasional good deed. The Ultimate Edition (with all the DLC of the other platforms) is available on the Switch version – reviewed here.

Steamworld Heist differs from many other similar style games (X-Com, Mario Rabbids Kingdom Battle, etc…) is in its 2-D play area. Rather than a top-down 2D playing field, Steamworld Heist is a side-scrolling affair. Somehow this just seems more pleasing to me, giving it a slightly cleaner feel, with far less minutia to worry about. Combat is slightly more arcade-y in that players physically aim their shots using the joystick (or mouse), rather than rely on the computer to simulate a shot using character statistics. To add to the fun, it is possible for shots to ricochet off the ceiling or walls to get at tricksy hiding enemy robots. Of course, friendly fire is always possible, so watch those ricochets closely.

Robots climb up and down ladders, hide behind barrels, and open and close doors as they explore each environment. Robots are given a specific load-out of weapons and equipment (better equipment becomes available over time) to then explore the areas of the next “job”. You encounter multiple new “friends” that you can recruit to your team. Robots earn experience over time, improving their skills. Each robot starts with some specialities (sniper, “big guns”, etc…)

Story-wise, the game isn’t particularly deep, but its combination of friendly space-faring robots in a steampunk setting (you’re always on the lookout for more water – the currency of choice) gives this strongly tactical game a lighthearted flavor.

Steamworld Heist: Ultimate Edition is a natural fit for the Nintendo Switch. The game is lighthearted and fun, with an engaging storyline and cast of characters. You can play the game speeding through the dialogue, but those willing to stop and read will find entertainment in the storyline. With a side-scrolling view and manual aiming of shots, somehow the game becomes even better than the sum of its parts. It’s straightforward interface belies a depth of strategic gameplay (through skills and equipment planning) combined with its pick-up and play style of gaming makes Steamworld Heist: Ultimate Edition a great fit for the Switch console.

Kid Factor:
There’s quite a bit of dialogue here, but no complex ideas or big words, etc.. Mildly early readers should still be able to muddle through OK. With the entire setting focused on steampunk robots, no blood or gore is to be found. This makes it a great option for kids who might want this style of game play but without the darker theme of other turn-based tactical games.

2 Responses to “Steamworld Heist (Switch, PS4, PC, Xbox One, NDS, Mobile)”

  1. Be aware that the difficulty can kind of spike in the last third or so of the game — my kids liked it (played on Vita) but ended up giving up in frustration before they finished. You can “grind” extra money (“water”) and experience by replaying old levels, but each world only sells limited kinds of equipment so eventually saving money is pointless… you just have to get better at playing well to advance.

  2. Thanks for the heads up!

    The Switch version has five different difficulty levels. I believe you can hop between them from level to level… Maybe that’s new?

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