SteamWorld Heist is the follow-up to Image & Form’s hit title, SteamWorld Dig and is out now. We caught up with the studios’ Community Manager, Julius Goldberg, to find out more.
Hello Julius, thanks for talking to us! Can you tell us a little bit about Image & Form and how the studio got into developing games?
The pleasure’s mine! Where to start? Next year marks Image & Form’s 20th anniversary. We first got into game development in the early 00’s. At the time it was simple edutainment games for PC and Mac. When the iOS App Store launched in 2008 we went independent for the first time.
After a few (pretty lousy) iOS efforts we actually made a really, really good game called Anthill. It was our first hit, but surviving off App Store sales alone proved to be too hard for us. As the App Store got more and more crowded we slowly moved on to the dedicated gaming platform scene. One day we got an idea for a digging game. That idea became SteamWorld Dig, our breakthrough hit. No one was more surprised than we were. Three years later we’re busy porting it’s sequel, SteamWorld Heist, after just releasing it on PlayStation!
It feels strange summarizing so many years in just two paragraphs, but that’s as deep as I can go without describing what we had for breakfast in the mornings.
You have just released SteamWorld Heist, can you tell us a little bit about it?
In a sentence: A tactical steampunk space adventure that’s jam-packed with bullet-bouncing, turret weaving, robot commanding fun and hats.
What was the inspiration behind the game? What gameplay mechanics can gamers expect to see in SteamWorld Heist?
I could say something about it being a “love letter to classic strategy games”, but I’ll spare you the clichés. While SteamWorld Heist is indeed inspired by classic turn-based games like XCOM and Fire Emblem, we decided to ditch a few of the genre’s core mechanics to make room for more action-packed gameplay.
Basically, you command a space pirate robot squad in tactical shootouts. There are no percentage-based hits here. You have to aim your guns manually and line up your shots perfectly to hit your enemies. Think Worms. This mechanic allows for insane skill shots and bullet-bouncing action by ricocheting your shots off the environment.
There will, for instance, be situations when an enemy is taking cover and you can’t get a straight shot. Just bounce your bullet off the ceiling and you’ll clear your path of metal meanies in no time! This mechanic encourages experimentation and players are having fantastic fun with it! If you miss a headshot you might shoot off your enemy’s hat instead. It acts as a consolation price for failure, since you can pick up the hat and wear it. There are hundreds to collect.
Besides boarding, looting and shooting your way through enemy space ships, you fly around space preparing for your next heist. This is most efficiently done by recruiting a hearty crew of steam-driven robots and upgrading them with unique abilities, weapons and – of course – stylish hats!
How was development for the Vita version? Are there any notable differences between the PS4 and Vita versions?
Vita development is fairly easy when compared to how much resources we pour into our other ports. Much thanks to the fact that we usually finish the PS4 version before moving onto the Vita (their architectures are very similar).
Since the game is cross-buy on PS4 and Vita we decided to deliver the same experience on both platforms (except minor UI differences).
Why did you want to bring it to the Vita?
We’re big Vita fans and the community is fantastic.
Where does the game fit in the SteamWorld universe? And what does the future hold for the series?
SteamWorld Heist takes place sometime after SteamWorld Dig. A cataclysmic event of earth-shattering proportions has forced the robots out to space. It’s a robot-eat-robot world out there and resources are slim. Many steambots have turned to space piracy in order to survive, and you’re one of them!
Future SteamWorld games (yes, we’re planning on making more) might explore what happened to the steambots while their planet was still intact. We’re open to both direct sequels and new games with different gameplay styles.
Are there any Vita games that stand out to you? What are your favourites?
My personal favorite is Virtue’s Last Reward. Can’t wait to play the next one this summer!
What are your plans beyond SteamWorld Heist?
We have nothing new in the works at the moment. It’s SteamWorld Heist all the way.
Finally, of the two Vita models released – the OLED and the Slim, which do you think is best?
OLED all the way. That screen is simply mind-blowing!
We would like to thank Julius for his time! SteamWorld Heist is out now and you can read our review here! Have you picked SteamWorld Heist yet?