Words About Video Games

Steamworld Heist: Strategy with Friends

I love the recent XCOM games (though I have yet to complete the second), but Steamworld Heist absolutely nails something that those games completely ignore--pacing. Downtime. A chance to catch your breath. A little bit of humor. A breezier side mission for one character before diving into the next major plot mission. Sometimes in XCOM I wish I could sit in the bar with my soldiers as we all swapped stories, cracked jokes, and found laughter in relieving the constant stress of saving the world.

You'll do that in Steamworld: Heist. There's no ticking timer forcing you into missions before you're ready, and your motley crew is full of scripted personalities rather than randomly-generated packages of statistics with a name and nationality.

And why wouldn't you? If you are facing impossible odds against an unimaginably terrible force, wouldn't you unwind, crack a joke, find comfort in the people around you? Although robots, the characters of Steamworld: Heist behave more like humans than the statistical homunculi of XCOM.

Again, XCOM is brilliant. It's just that it's also relentless. Steamworld: Heist finds a happier medium. The missions can be truly tense and challenging, and they constantly tempt you with valuable loot, while lying in wait to punish you for pushing beyond your capabilities. The tactical choices--in team composition, equipment are top notch, and the requirement to take aim and line up shots makes the switch to a 2D view entirely worth it. There is nothing like the thrill of lining up a perfect ricochet, landing that critical shot that brings your bots safely home.

Plus, it lets you shoot the hats off your enemies' heads and then wear them.