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  1. Developer: Image & Form International AB Publisher: Thunderful Publishing AB Platform: Nintendo Switch Release Date: April 25, 2019 ESRB: E for Everyone At this point in Image & Form’s rapidly-expanding SteamWorld franchise we’ve had two incredible Metroidvania entries; an epic, space-faring tactical strategy title; and a lesser-known tower defense game for DSiware that started it all. According to studio head Brjann Sigurgeirsson, fans had been clamoring for the Swedish developer to give the RPG genre a go and it seems his team was all too happy to oblige. Thus, SteamWorld Quest: Hand of Gilgamech was born. A departure from the sci-fi setting of previous games in the series, SteamWorld Quest features a storybook tale that unfolds in an era of knights, dragons, and magic, narrated by SteamWorld Heist’s Seabrass in a welcome cameo. The journey begins with two adolescent female steambots named Armilly and Copernica -- a wannabe knight and a novice alchemist, respectively – who find themselves caught up in a plot against a rising evil. Along the way, you’ll pick up a few more party members and discover some unsettling truths about what’s really happening, and maybe even experience a twist or two. Naturally, SteamWorld Quest is a bit heavier on the narrative than previous games due to being an RPG. However, the cast is wisely kept smaller and contained versus large and unwieldy, thus giving each character just enough focus and attention to keep them interesting. The writing is downright hilarious at times too, once again showing that Image & Form really does have one of the best localization teams on the indie side of the industry. And though the plot is a little formulaic (yet entirely self-aware), the writers do subvert a few typical story tropes – the two main leads are both female, for one -- and ultimately, there are fulfilling arcs for each of the characters by the time the credits roll. Unlike many other 2D RPGs where a top-down or isometric view is standard, the out-of-battle sequences in SteamWorld Quest take place in a side-scrolling manner where you’ll mostly move from left to right (and vice versa) and screen to screen, coming across the occasional treasure chest and/or puzzle, a shopkeeper, and scores of enemies. Touch an enemy (they’ll be alerted to your presence if you come too close) and you’ll initiate a battle, which is far and away the best part of this game. In fact, I’ve never played a card-based battle system that I enjoyed more than this one. The mechanics are kept surprisingly simple: at the beginning of each battle, you’re dealt eight “punch cards” randomly from your deck of 24 (which you can customize throughout the game), and you can play up to three cards each turn. Playing base cards (usually lower level attacks that have no number) will help you build up your steam power gauge, in turn allowing you to play even stronger cards that unleash powerful attacks, restore health, or cast buffs that help your team (or debuffs on your enemies). What really propels the gameplay in a big way are the variety of options at your disposal. Sure, you can play your cards as they’re dealt, but you can also strategically choose to pass on some in order to get the right combination to line up special combos that can, at times, save your bacon entirely. The battle system is also amazingly well-balanced. I played on the Normal difficulty, but the challenge remained consistent throughout, picking up toward the end. Image & Form did a great job making boss fights feel alive and engaging thanks to a number of different scenarios you’ll have to play through. For example, one boss poisons your characters every five turns, forcing you to constantly switch between damage control and going on the offense. Other bosses might have lackeys or pawns whose extra attacks and damage can add up over time unless you defeat them. Creative scenarios like this kept me looking forward to each and every battle, which is a rarity for me when it comes to RPGs. If there’s one thing that disappointed me, it’s the lack of activities and interaction with the world outside of battles. There’s little to no interaction with NPCs due to them being sparse, little to no side quests that you can carry out that either reward you with more loot or delves deeper into the game’s lore, no interesting minigames to shake things up, and no engaging puzzles aside from the ‘lite’ ones you come across (find a switch to open a gate, or rotate images a certain way to open a door, etc.). While the battle system is near perfect, the out-of-battle activities and exploration are the biggest aspects Image & Form could and should expand upon should they give the game a sequel (or create other RPGs like it). Still, the game has so much going for it that it’s easy to overlook this aspect this time around. The art, like in other recent SteamWorld games, is fantastic and draws on the strengths of Image & Form’s talented and creative team while the music keeps the story suspenseful and allows for some lighter moments as well. If you’ve played other SteamWorld titles, then it shouldn’t come as a surprise to you that SteamWorld Quest is another great entry. And if you’re hesitant because you’re not sure what to make of the card-based battle system, be assured that this is easily one of the best battle systems I’ve ever played in an RPG; it’s both fun and engaging, as is the deck-building element. While the game still has some room to grow for next time (more out-of-battle activities, for example), SteamWorld Quest is a tremendous first step into the RPG genre for Image & Form’s ambitious franchise and more than lives up to the lofty expectations the studio has set with its prior games. Overall Score: 8.5 (out of 10) Great SteamWorld Quest is fun, zany, and boasts what is possibly the best card-based battle system in any game to date. Though not without room to improve, this is yet another genre Image & Form has shown considerable skill and expertise developing in, and I can't wait to see what's next. Disclosure: This game was reviewed using downloadable Switch code provided by the publisher
  2. Image & Form's upcoming title, SteamWorld Quest: Hand of Gilgamech, has officially been dated for release and it's heading exclusively to Nintendo Switch's eShop (for the foreseeable future) on April 25th for $24.99 / €24.99 / £22.49. While the SteamWorld games are primarily known for action and platforming (and even tactical strategy!), SteamWorld Quest: Hand of Gilgamech is the developer's first foray into the world of RPGs. You'll lead a group of aspiring Steambot heroes in a world where steampunk meets high fantasy, with treasure chests full of gold, dragons, magic, XP, colorful worlds, and all of the usual good stuff that comes with the genre. Oh, and the turn-based battles are card-based as well. You'll craft your own battle deck from over 100 different punch-cards in order to take on your enemies. Also, if SteamWorld Quest sounds familiar to you, the game's title was originally leaked back in 2016 by way of a European listing. It would appear Image & Form has had this SteamWorld entry in the oven for a good while now! At any rate, you won't have to wait much longer to get your hands on the next game in the SteamWorld saga, so get ready for plenty of steam-driven RPG goodness coming your way soon. Source: Press Release
  3. If you haven't been paying attention to the Swedish gaming scene, you've been missing out on two of the biggest indie developer success stories in recent years. And now, things are about to get a whole lot bigger. Case in point, Image & Form (developer of the SteamWorld series) and Zoink Games (developer of Stick It to the Man and the upcoming Fe) have joined forces to form Thunderful, a limited liability company that will wholly own both developers. With the relationship formalized, the new company will eventually move into a bigger office together, but will still develop new and existing IP under their respective labels. Thunderful is co-owned by Image & Form CEO Brjann Sigurgeirsson, Zoink Games CEO Klaus Lyngeled, and Bergsala Holding. Sigurgeirsson will assume the mantle of CEO for Thunderful whereas Lyngeled will become the Chief Creative Officer. So what led to the decision to join together? “We already work together on a daily basis in PR, marketing, intelligence and publishing,” says Brjann Sigurgeirsson, CEO of Image & Form and CEO of Thunderful. “Image & Form and Zoink will continue to produce games like we always do, but we’re now formalizing our close relationship. Through Thunderful we can share resources more effectively, officially act together and launch bigger, more ambitious game projects. We’re becoming a real powerhouse.” “Brjann and I already exchange very much information, so this development is natural,” says Klaus Lyngeled, CEO of Zoink and Chief Creative Officer of Thunderful. “With a group of close to 50 people we’ll grow our clout both nationally and internationally.” Also of note, Bergsala Holdings is the sole distributor of Nintendo products (among other things) in the Nordic region and has been a long-standing partner for both companies. At the moment, Thunderful has close to 50 employees and nine projects that are currently in development -- two of which are Fe and Flipping Death, while the remaining seven are as-of-yet unannounced. Image & Form's most recent title, SteamWorld Dig 2, released in September 2017 and has been critically acclaimed and gone on to be the company's best-selling game to date. It received a 9.5 out of 10 in our review. Source: Press Release What are your thoughts on Image & Form joining with Zoink Games to become Thunderful?
  4. Jason Clement

    Review: SteamWorld Dig 2

    Developer: Image & Form International AB Publisher: Image & Form International AB Platform: Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, PS Vita Release Date: September 21, 2017 (Switch), September 22 (PC), September 26 (PS4, PS Vita) ESRB: E for Everyone Note: This review is based on the Nintendo Switch version of the game Four years ago, SteamWorld Dig propelled Swedish studio Image & Form to indie game developer stardom. Given its breakout success, it only makes sense that they'd return to it at some point. In many ways, however, making a direct sequel was just about as risky as it was for them to pivot to a completely different genre with their last game, SteamWorld Heist. Why? Offhand, it's difficult to imagine where they could go further with the Dig formula, and a sequel could easily have been too much of the same with not enough new content added to justify it, and thus seem unnecessary in the end. The good news? This isn't at all the case with SteamWorld Dig 2, and -- against all odds -- Image & Form have created a fantastic sequel that improves on its predecessor in just about every way, delivering something truly memorable as a result. This time around, you play as Dorothy (aka 'Dot') -- the young, female steambot who was an NPC merchant in town in the original title -- who is on a journey to find Rusty, the original protagonist, whom has vanished following the events at the end of the first game. Dot's travels take her to a mining town called El Machino, where rumors report that a steambot wearing a red scarf has descended into the mines there. Also along for the ride this time around is new supporting character "Fen" -- a digital sprite with snarky, condescending humor who serves as a sort of guide for Dot. At the start, SteamWorld Dig 2 does feel an awful lot like the first game, especially for the first third or so. The main gameplay cycle -- digging down into the mine, recovering ore, selling it in town, and upgrading your character -- remains intact here and forms the core of the design. However, the game manages to retread similar ground while greatly improving the formula and overall experience at the same time. For example, whereas Dig 1 is entirely a vertical descent, Dig 2 features a certain amount of horizontal exploration as well. As a result, the in-game world is considerably larger and more fleshed out than the one found in the first game. Dig 2 also features a slew of nifty new enhancements Dot will acquire (ala Metroid) as she progresses that help expand her means of exploration. Some enhancements may be familiar, but others are actually different altogether from what Rusty received in the last game, which is something I appreciated. In addition to upgrades you can buy for the different items and modifications you acquire throughout the game, SteamWorld Dig 2 introduces 'Cog Mods,' in which you use various cogs you acquire to unlock new augmentations and skills that make things more efficient for Dot. For example, one mod causes enemies to be pushed back on impact when using the pickaxe to attack them while another might reduce any fall damage you receive. It's a neat way of letting players further customize their own game experience. Also making a return from the first game are individual caverns that you'll come across; each of which have a certain theme to them, where they either reward you by completing a challenging platforming exercise, or puzzles that must be solved using platforming elements. And coming off of the last game, Image & Form have really upped their game design skills with these, as they offer some of the most challenging yet rewarding gameplay in the game. Many of the caverns' designs toward the end are absolutely brilliant. Not to be outdone, it must be said that the story in SteamWorld Dig 2 is leaps and bounds above the original's. While the overall narrative of Dot searching for Rusty stays intact, there are a number of twists and turns that fans of the first game will especially appreciate. There were moments I certainly didn't see coming, and a number that really stand out due to how off the beaten path the story goes at certain points. Even the relationship between Dot and Fen evolves over the course of the game and becomes one of its best highlights toward the end. Without spoiling anything, the story is utterly fantastic and plays nearly as big a reason as the gameplay as to why I'm so ecstatic about the game. Finally, both the visuals and soundtrack are outstanding. Image & Form solidified the colorful, cartoonish look they were going for with their last game, SteamWorld Heist, and it carries over nicely into Dig 2. The graphics look especially vibrant on the Switch's handheld screen; if you own one, that's the way to play it. El Huervo of Hotline Miami 2 fame was tapped for the music this time around, and -- no hyperbole -- this is absolutely one of my favorite soundtracks of the year. Part of what makes it succeed is a lesser reliance on the typical "Steampunk/Western-sounding themes" and more of a focus on electronic and general video gamey-sounding beats. It's extremely catchy stuff, and while there a few different musical styles represented, they all work well together. There's so much more I want to say about the game yet can't because of spoilers, but suffice it to say that SteamWorld Dig 2 blew my expectations out of the water with this sequel. Dot's quest to discover what happened to Rusty leads to some fascinating and unexpected moments throughout the game, and you can really feel that the larger SteamWorld lore is being added to in significant ways with this title. Tie that all up with some of the most compelling Metroidvania gameplay, great puzzles, colorful visuals, and a serious contender for soundtrack of the year, and you've got yourself one amazing game. Go play SteamWorld Dig 2. You won't regret it. Pros + Fantastic story that will keep you guessing + Large game world to explore with plenty of secrets + Level design is greatly improved and offers a good amount of challenge + Visuals are attractive and vibrant; production value is through the roof + One of the best soundtracks of the year Cons - No placeable items (such as ladders and torches) such as the first game had. This is not a big deal in any way, but I did enjoy that option. Overall Score: 9.5 (out of 10) Fantastic Once again, Image & Form has created something so incredibly polished and special that you could make the argument it's their best game to date. They've upped the ante in almost every way with SteamWorld Dig 2, from expanding the game world, adding great new features, and tying it all up with an excellent story. Disclosure: This game was reviewed using a downloadable code provided by the publisher
  5. Jason Clement

    Review: SteamWorld Heist

    Developer: Image & Form Publisher: Image & Form Platform: 3DS eShop Release Date: December 10, 2015 ESRB: E 10+ Two summers ago, nobody knew who developer Image & Form was. And almost overnight, they became an indie sensation. SteamWorld Dig put the Dutch team in the spotlight big time, winning huge acclaim from critics and fans everywhere for its unique, cartoon-like spin on the Steampunk genre and addictive gameplay. Subsequently, any other developer probably would've followed up such a hit game with an obvious sequel, but Image & Form boldly went in a different direction this time around. Enter SteamWorld Heist, a strategy action game based on boarding spaceships, shooting up rascally scoundrel Scrappers, and plundering all of the resources on board. But hold on just a second -- how did we get from digging down into the Earth all the way to plundering spaceships? Well, that's a tale for another time, according to Image & Form. What you will find out is that some pretty severe things have happened to SteamWorld since we last left Rusty. A catastrophe of sorts destroyed the planet, forcing the Steambots into outer space to live amongst the stars. At the outset, we learn that there are three distinct factions of Steambots now: The Cowbots, who mine for ore and water; Scrappers, who are pirates and thieves that scavenge and pillage other ships; and Royalists, an oppressive regime that rules the sector and enforces strict taxes on the Steambots. You play as Captain Piper Faraday, a headstrong female Steambot who runs a crew of smugglers that steal and plunder from Scrappers in order to help the Cowbots. When the game starts, you discover that Faraday had lost most of her former crew in a raid, and thus must rebuild it with new recruits over the course of the game. You'll encounter more Steambots throughout the course of the game and will be able to recruit them into your party by either paying their asking price (which is paid in water), having enough reputation points (which you get by completing missions), or a combination of the two. Each Steambot also has their own class and skills -- one might be able to use general handguns and pistols while another may act as a sniper, and yet another will be skilled at using heavy weaponry. As mentioned earlier, the core gameplay revolves around raiding ships, taking out enemy Scrappers and Royalists aboard, and grabbing any loot you come across. You'll make use of a branching space map in order to guide Piper's ship to different locations. Once you've boarded a ship, each level generally has a certain goal you must reach before you can hightail it out of there, whether it be grabbing a certain amount of loot, destroying x amount of Scrappers, or something else. The loot you acquire at the end of each mission can then be used to fortify your crew with new weapons and other equipment. In fact, the game has an amazing system of progression. Every Steambot that survives through the mission will gain experience, which in turn will lead them to level up and acquire new skills that will enhance their adeptness during battle. While you can't personalize each member of your crew's skills, it still is a lot of fun and exciting to unlock new ones, and you really get the sense that each crewmember is becoming better and more useful for every mission. There are a wide variety of weapons to acquire and buy as well, which help keep things diverse and interesting. Each mission will have Faraday and one or more of her crew infiltrating another ship, and the layout is all in 2D, similar to how SteamWorld Dig looked. However, being a strategy game and not a platformer, each of your crewmembers will have their own turn to move a limited amount of spaces and perform an action, whether it's taking a shot at enemies or using an assist item like a health pack to restore HP. Every ship will generally have a different layout of rooms and such, but the way each room is laid out in function will be the same. You'll have multiple levels of platforms to work with, ladders, and barrels and other objects to use as cover. It's simple in concept, but there's a world of depth to it when you really dig into the meat of the game. What really makes Heist's gameplay tick is its great use of gunplay. It doesn't just boil down to aiming your gun at an enemy and firing. Thank goodness too, because that would get old real fast. No, you'll be making use of angled shots to help hit certain foes. For example, your character and an enemy might both be using an object as cover, but -- given the right circumstances and position -- you can angle a shot so that it ricochets off the ceiling, then the wall behind the enemy before finally hitting them. Combined with the different ship layouts and enemy types, this mechanic gives the game a ton of flair and depth. However, It isn't just the gameplay that makes SteamWorld Heist special. Everything about the game shows that Image & Form put in a ton of effort to make this a truly quality game. The visuals show off a level of detail and polish that is rare to see outside of AAA games, and all of the animations are smooth as butter. Seriously, this is easily one of the best looking 2D 3DS games ever made. One can only imagine what it'll look like in HD when brought to PC, Vita, and other consoles. Even the music and soundtrack are extremely well done. The main theme that plays when you're raiding ships once again has a catchy old-western ambience to it (like in SteamWorld Dig), and I was blown away to find out that Image & Form produced entire songs with actual sung lyrics that play in the bars that you'll occasionally stop at. And if you listen in the back of Piper's ship, you can hear the sound of a large steam engine roaring to keep the ship running. Simply incredible. All I can say is Image & Form has done it again. SteamWorld Heist is a near-masterpiece of an experience and proves that SteamWorld Dig was clearly not a fluke. Even though the game is a complete 180 from Dig in terms of gameplay, it's a gamble that paid off in the end because it's a ton of fun and has loads of depth for players of all types. I can't say it enough -- SteamWorld Heist is fantastic, and it's the one 3DS game I would recommend above all others this year. Pros + Fantastic 2D visuals + Deep strategic gameplay + Multiple difficulties that are changeable at any time + Charming writing and cast of characters Cons - Customizable skillsets would be nice (I'm really reaching to nitpick here) Overall Score: 9.5 (out of 10) Fantastic SteamWorld Heist is an incredibly thrilling strategy game, and Image & Form's best title to date. The amount of polish is unbelievable for a 3DS game and the depth of its gameplay will have you playing over and over again. Disclosure: This game was reviewed using a downloadable code provided by the publisher
  6. Image & Form has announced that its upcoming SteamWorld Dig 2 will not only release on Switch later this month, but also on the PS4 and PS Vita as well. While the game will release on Switch first, the latter versions will launch nearly a week later. As for what you can expect from this sequel, Image & Form laid out five new things on the PlayStation Blog. Namely, a new protagonist in the form of Dorothy McCrank, a supporting NPC from the original game; new companions, of which Image & Form mentioned you won't be digging on your own this time; new upgrades, such as the jet engine and hookshot; a big sprawling world to explore (Image & Form says it's much bigger than the first game; expect to spend 10+ hours exploring it); and a new musical composer in the form of El Huervo (of Hotline Miami Fame). You'll be able to experience it for yourself when SteamWorld Dig 2 releases on Switch on September 21, and then on PlayStation 4 and PS Vita on September 26 (in North America) and September 27 (in Europe). All versions will run $19.99. Source: Press Release, PlayStation Blog Are you excited to play SteamWorld Dig 2?
  7. Just a month ago, Image & Form was teasing the next installment in the SteamWorld series, and today we now know what the game will be: SteamWorld Dig 2. Although early reports indicated that the game might have been called 'SteamWorld Quest' at first, the return to Rusty's unfinished story is a welcome one, as the first SteamWorld Dig ended on a bit of a cliffhanger. In SteamWorld Dig 2, you'll play as the young shopkeeper from the original as you explore the depths of the Earth for a long lost friend. Image & Form has confirmed the game will be coming first to Nintendo Switch this Summer and will include HD Rumble (as well as Joy-Con) functionality, though they have yet to detail the specifics on it. Stay tuned for more info as we head into GDC this week, and be sure to check out the game's announcement trailer below! Source: Press Release Are you excited for SteamWorld Dig 2?
  8. Have you been chomping at the bit for a new SteamWorld game ever since finishing the excellent SteamWorld Heist? The good news is we might be closer than you realized to the announcement of the next game in the series. A LOT closer, in fact. Today Image & Form tweeted the following: "We're bringing SteamWorld Project 2017 to PAX East in March! Which means the reveal is not far off. Can you find the hint(s) in this pic?" You'll notice right away that there is indeed an amiibo of Rusty, the protagonist from SteamWorld Dig -- on the second upper shelf from the left. Whether this was fan-made, a prototype, or an actual amiibo that's in the works, we don't know, but it certainly is an auspicious sign for them to include it. As for SteamWorld Project 2017, the official name was rumored to be SteamWorld Quest when it appeared on a European listing, so unless it was a tentative title or they opted to change it since then, it seems a good bet that the title may stick. Stay tuned for more info on Image and Form's Project 2017 in the coming weeks before PAX East kicks off. Source: Image and Form (via Twitter) What do you think the next SteamWorld game will be about? And do you think the Rusty amiibo is real?
  9. If you enjoyed Swedish developer Image & Form's SteamWorld Dig and last year's SteamWorld Heist, you'll want to keep tabs on their next title, which is reportedly dubbed SteamWorld Quest. This newest title accidentally leaked by way of a European listing that someone had caught wind of, and, unfortunately, it's far from presentable in its current state according to Image & Form's Julius Goldbog, who made the following statement regarding the leak: Look at that! We“ll share more about our next game when the time is right. It“s so deep in its initial stage that there“s no point in talking about it. While no formal announcement has been made just yet, it took Image & Form just under two and a half years to release SteamWorld Heist after SteamWorld Dig made its debut in early August of 2013. Given that Heist released last December, it's understandable that SteamWorld Quest would be extremely early in development and thus they would have nothing meaningful to announce about it so far. Although it could come out earlier, it's safe to say given the timespan between Dig and Heist that you might not see Quest until Q1/Q2 2018 at the very earliest. This means you might get the first rumblings of what the game is sometime next year, though the "Quest" moniker does seem to hint that the title could possibly be an RPG this time around. Source: EACEA (via GoNintendo) What are your thoughts on the name for the next SteamWorld game? Do you think it might be an RPG as well?
  10. Jonathan Higgins

    E3 2015 Hands-On: SteamWorld Heist

    Following up a successful game probably feels intimidating most of the time, especially if you“re a small development team like Image & Form. If you“ve played and enjoyed SteamWorld Dig, you“re probably expecting me to use certain key words and phrases when describing SteamWorld Heist, like “it“s more of what you love about the first game” and "the gameplay is very similar." I invite you to toss all those precognitions out the window. SteamWorld Heist isn“t an exploration-based platformer at all, but rather a turn-based strategy game mixed with elements of an action game. I got a chance to sit down with Image & Form CEO Brjann Sigurgeirsson at E3 and spent a good thirty minutes immersing myself in a whole new world, and a new gameplay style that couldn“t be more different from the game that came before it. SteamWorld Heist opens with Captain Piper, who needs to save her small squad of space pirates who have been captured. My immediate instincts were to use the control stick to move my character, but I noticed it caused the camera to move instead. So I guess the first thing I can say about SteamWorld Heist is that you have a full view of the level around you to carefully time your movements, and that“s a very good thing. Character movement is limited, and you can see a line indicating a path where you can walk. SteamWorld Heist is a lot like Codename S.T.E.A.M. in that respect. You can only move your character(s) so far before your turn is up, so if you see an enemy--take cover or shoot it down. Thankfully, Image & Form are very fair with how they“ve implemented their system. Things you can do (such as picking up an item, taking cover) are clearly marked by appropriate symbols that you see as you plan your path forward. And all enemy combat is halted while you plan your attack; you won“t have to worry about being accidentally shot or feeling rushed to plan the best move. Speaking of planning the best move — when you go to take a shot at an enemy, you“re shown the full path the bullet will take. Your shots can ricochet off walls to hit enemies, sometimes affect the environment around you (such as shooting a wire to make an area burst into flames), and more! One of the fun, small things you“ll be able to do with SteamWorld Heist is find wacky ways to take out enemies. Whether you blast an enemy in one shot by aiming for their head, or take a few tries at them, how they die is pretty satisfying. This isn“t a game that just lets enemies fade away or disappear. This is the kind of game that lets your robotic foes kind of burst into a million pieces. They even leave their hat behind if you knock their head clean off their shoulders! And speaking of hats — there“s a hat compendium in the game, as well as extra characters, items and other stuff to collect. With that in mind, I“d say this game is just as much about enjoying the levels around you and trying to collect everything as it is about reaching the end. The attention to detail is consistent with SteamWorld Dig. If one of the things you liked about Dig was its charm and aesthetic, that“s one thing you can count on. I never would have expected SteamWorld Heist to be what it is — a turn-based strategy action-game. But I“m happy with the direction that Image & Form have taken with their next game. Even if the strategy genre intimidates you, I think that Heist has a fair enough take on the genre to feel welcoming towards everyone. Image & Form are bound to be looking at another success story here. If you“re looking for more information, you should check out the game“s website. It“s still planned for a 2015 release on all current gen platforms.
  11. Jason Clement

    Review: SteamWorld Dig

    Developer: Image & Form Publisher: Image & Form Platform: Wii U, 3DS, PC, PS4, PS Vita Release Date: August 28, 2014 (Wii U) ESRB: E 10+ This review is based on the Wii U version of the game SteamWorld Dig was one of the biggest surprises of 2013 when it initially debuted on the 3DS eShop before subsequently getting an HD version on Steam and later PS4 and Vita. Not that the eShop doesn't have its share of great games, but this was a game from a small Swedish developer that had the ambition, charm, and polish of a triple-A developed title. Now that it's finally arrived for the Wii U audience, how does it hold up one year after its initial release? Grab your cowboy hat and pickaxe, because we're about to find out! The game begins with a cowboy hat-wearing robot named Rusty arriving in the nearly deserted town of Tumbleton in order to investigate a mine that his deceased uncle Joe left him. Like most everything else in SteamWorld, Rusty is a steambot that runs on... well, steam, instead of electricity for reasons that aren't made apparent (at least not initially). In fact, the entire game is set to reflect an Old Western setting, even riffing on a certain Clint Eastwood movie with its subtitle. But why exactly is the world seemingly only populated only by steambots? Why does everything run on steam? And what happened to humans (if they even exist)? These are a few of the mysteries you'll uncover as you dig down deeper and deeper into the earth. And dig you shall, as that's what the game is centered on. After a brief tutorial scenario in the beginning which has Rusty falling through the earth and having to make his way out, he obtains his uncle's pickaxe, which he'll use to dig through the ground in the mine. Your ultimate goal is to dig deep and discover exactly what uncle Joe wanted Rusty to see. Also, it may not be apparent at first, but SteamWorld Dig has some really interesting subtext and undertones in its story, especially late in the game; something that was a pleasant surprise. While the gameplay does take precedence, it was nice to see that there's a deeper story going on here; one that Image & Form seems to be making one of the building blocks of the SteamWorld franchise. One of the most unique and interesting aspects of the game's design is the fact that the layout of the mine itself is procedurally generated (i.e. randomly generated) in each new playthrough. No two mines are the same, save for certain subsections and areas where Rusty collects new parts that help him advance. The process of digging is a bit of a slow process at first as it takes anywhere from 5+ hits to destroy a unit of earth/dirt. Fortunately, any paths you dig are permanent, and you'll eventually make your way deeper and deeper into the shaft this way. Digging aside, one of the other primary things you'll be doing in the game is mining different kinds of ore which Rusty can then sell back in Tumbleton for gold coins. In turn, you'll use the coins to buy more equipment and upgrades for Rusty which in turn will help him progress further and further into the mine. You'll also be forced to return to town every so often due to limited light from your lantern (which slowly burns out) and limited room in your rucksack for ore; both of which you'll incrementally upgrade to last longer and store more, respectively. This sense of gradual progression on two fronts—digging deeper in the mine and upgrading Rusty with newer, better equipment—makes the game incredibly fun, and mining for more valuable ore becomes addicting. As you dig deeper into the ground, the level design becomes increasingly more complex as well. You'll run into enemies that require more thought to destroy, be more decisive about where you dig, and avoid toxic waste, spikes, falling blocks, and more. The areas that contain new upgrades or rare ore are also a welcome diversion as these present more platform-oriented gameplay and puzzles. Especially interesting is the level design in the later areas, where the setting and obstacles change pretty drastically, resulting in some of the most gratifying, intense gameplay in the game. Another thing that makes SteamWorld Dig so good is its visual presentation. The game looks great with its traditional 2D sprites, cartoon-like appearance, and silky smooth animation. Its quality is readily apparent from the title screen alone—this is a game that could easily be mistaken for Nintendo's own. Those that only played on 3DS before will also notice that the previously static portraits for each of the robot townsfolk are now animated, which is a nice touch. The Wii U version even gives you three different options for displaying the HUD (on Gamepad entirely, on the TV screen entirely, or offscreen-play on Gamepad) as well as fully customizable controls, letting you make any control scheme you want. Interestingly, SteamWorld Dig isn't Image & Form's first rodeo, but it most certainly is its best. Despite being on the shorter side (you'll beat it in 4-5 hours the first time through), the game's pacing is fantastic, making it one of those games that treads the line between leaving you wanting more and feeling just long enough to leave you incredibly satisfied with the experience before the magic wears off. Its visuals and world within are charming, the gameplay is addictive, the western-inspired music is catchy, and the sense of exploration you get from mining is incredibly fulfilling. If you haven't played yet, do yourself a favor and check it out, because SteamWorld Dig is possibly the best new game IP to come out within the last year. Pros + Premise of digging, collecting ore, and buying/collecting upgrades is a lot of fun + Visuals/presentation and music are charming + Great pacing throughout with the progression and level design Cons - Not a huge thing, but traveling in and out of the mine manually can be repetitious for the first hour or so Overall Score: 9 (out of 10) Fantastic SteamWorld Dig is charming, addicting, and lots of fun to play. Definitely check it out if you're a fan of platformers and Metroidvania-type games. Disclosure: This game was reviewed using downloadable code provided by the publisher.
  12. Image & Form struck gold last year with the surprise indie hit, SteamWorld Dig—a game starring a steam-powered robot in an Old West setting that digs his way through the Earth, collecting various rare ore and discovering the secrets that lie below. Next year, the company is looking to do it again with their newest project: SteamWorld Heist. Despite being set in the same universe, SteamWorld Heist is not a direct sequel to Dig, though it does take place some time after the events of the latter. In this game's timeline, the robot population has fled into space aboard steam-powered ships due to a cataclysmic event that shattered the planet. Things are even more desperate here, and with resources coming in short form, heisting other ships and bases is the only way to stay functioning. You'll recruit a team of robots to explore and scavenge the remains of the destroyed world as well as take the fight to enemy ships to take their resources as well, and you'll be doing so through turn-based strategy; another shift in gameplay from Dig's more action platforming-oriented design. So why make a brand new game instead of pursuing a sequel to SteamWorld Dig after its great success? "Partly because we really wanted to make a turn-based strategy game, but also because it felt like a clever move," Image & Form CEO Brjann Sigurgeirsson mentioned. "The obvious follow-up would“ve been Dig 2; we wanted to surprise instead." And surprise they certainly have. SteamWorld Heist is set for release in Spring 2015, though platforms, price, and release schedules are yet to be determined. For now, be sure to check out the first look at the game below. Source: Press Release Are you looking forward to SteamWorld Heist?
  13. Marcus Estrada

    SteamWorld Dig Screenshot

    From the album: Marcus's Album

  14. The 3DS eShop is about to get a brand new platformer in the form of SteamWorld Dig by developer Image & Form. Dubbed as a "hardcore platform mining adventure for 3DS," the game stars Rusty, a lone mining steambot who arrives to an old town in great need, and as he digs through the earth for riches, he'll discover an ancient threat. You'll explore a vast underground world full of secrets and treasures with Rusty and interact with other bots in the town of Tumbleton in order to help restore it and earn upgrades. In addition, the worlds are randomized, meaning that there will be a high replayability factor to the game. Image & Form is also touting the game's visuals, mentioning high-res graphics with dynamic lights and multiple, parallaxed background layers, which are sure to look pretty nice in 3D. So far the game looks and sounds pretty promising, and it's expected to have around 12 hours of play, so definitely keep your eyes on it if you're a fan of platformers, eShop games, or interesting concepts in general. SteamWorld Dig makes its way to the 3DS eShop on August 8 for $8.99 in North America, €8.99 in Europe, and $11.99 in Australia. Check out the game's official website for a look at more screenshots.