As you may have noticed (or not, as it crept into the eShop pretty quietly) there’s a demo available for the upcoming 3DS game Codename S.T.E.A.M. When this game was announced some months ago references where made to other strategy games like Fire Emblem, which is why I decided to give it a try.
So, what can you expect? It’s a turn based strategy game but it has elements of a third person shooter in it as well. Your team of characters faces an alien invasion, and to defeat them you move through your level one tile at a time, and try to take them down using your weapon. Moving, and using your weapon costs steam, so you only have a set number of moves you can make each turn. Saving some of your moves, or rather, saving some of your steam, allows you to go in Overwatch mode, allowing you to shoot an alien when it moves into your line of sight during the aliens turn. Plus, each character has a specific move that it can only use once per level, but which doesn’t cost any steam.
When you defeat enemies you earn medals, that you can use at a savepoint to heal yourself or restore fallen allies. Each level has hidden gears too that can be used to upgrade equipment. For Amiibo fans with a New3DS: you can use the Amiibo figues, and play like Marth or Lucina from the Fire Emblem series. The game is set in a sort of Steampunk version of London.
Steampunk is a subgenre of science fiction and fantasy literature that has developed into becoming a craft and lifestyle movement, which commonly features some sort of aspect of steam-powered machinery. Steampunk works are often set in an alternative history of the 19th century British Victorian era or the American Wild West.
The main character is a man called Henry Fleming, based on the name of the protagonist from the book The Red Badge of Courage ( a war novel by Stephen Crane about a young private of the Union Army who flees from the field of battle). I included this background info to give you an idea of the visual environment of the game.
The game’s artstyle is heavily influenced by the silver age of comic books (the superhero genre) so that should give you even more of a clue. Henry is part of an elite fighting force Unit S.T.E.A.M. which is short for Strike Team Eliminating the Alien Menace, founded by a fictionalized Arbraham Lincoln. Most members of this unit are based on iconic fictional characters from American literature, like Tom Sawyer and the Cowardly Lion from the Wizard of Oz.
So, enough of the background. How about the gameplay? The demo plays smoothly, the environment looks good and the turn based battles gave me no problem. At the beginning of each mission you choose your party, taking each ones unique abilities into account. Once on the battle field you go from character to character and set up their actions. You have the choice to walk slowly and stay out of the enemies line of sight. Aiming your weapon is easy enough, and all the while you keep an eye on your steam level.
Is it like Fire Emblem? Well, from what I’ve seen I’d have to say partly. I guess it depends on what attracted you to Fire Emblem in the first place. I liked the grid, the stories behind the characters in FE, the way you could equip your army before the battle, thinking everything through. This game has the same strategy part, and it plays equally polished and immersive. The shooter part doesn’t appeal to me, but that’s just a matter of choice.
The environment and the action scenes during the battles are totally different. Where FE has a manga style, with beautiful lines in the cut scenes, this feels much more raw…more steampunk. I think for a lot of people this game will be a dream come true. It has everything to keep you occupied for a long time. Speaking for myself, I don’t think I’ll be playing it, mostly because I don’t like shooters, and the environment isn’t my cup of tea. But I’d say: download the demo, and see for yourself! It will be released in the US March 13, and in Europe May 15 2015.
I might give the demo a go. It don’t like the art style, but the gameplay sounds a bit like Valkyria Chronicles which I have enjoyed.
I think you should be able to find it for a good price now, right? I don’t think it was a huge succes, sadly, for nintendo
I think it’s only available digitally so it will retain its value unless there is a sale.