Codename: S.T.E.A.M is shaping up to be one of the most hyped new games coming out for the 3DS and it’s unlike anything that’s come out for the system before. I recently sat down and played through the demo so you don’t have to! So is the game going to be worth your time and money? Read on and find out!
Codename: S.T.E.A.M’s pedigree is exceptional. It was developed by Intelligent Systems, and while the name may sound generic, this is actually the studio behind the Fire Emblem series. As such, it should come as no surprise that Codename: S.T.E.A.M is very much a strategy game albeit with an action twist. The game shares quite a lot in common gameplay-wise with Valkyria Chronicles, with a few minor differences. During gameplay, you control a group of soldiers with a set amount of action points..er…I mean “steam points.” You use these points to move around and fire your weapons. After you end your turn, enemies get a chance to do the same. Controls are extremely simple, a grid system displayed on the ground makes it very clear how far you can walk, and using the L trigger fires your weapon.
The majority of the demo involves controlling John Fleming and Henry Irons while they take out Aliens. Oh did I not mention that before? The game takes place in alternate steampunk world where Abraham Lincoln is not only the President of the United States but also the leader of an elite commando group comprised of famous characters from literature, folklore, a friggin’ anthropomorphic lion, and a sentient pumpkin - all of whom must fight off an alien invasion. If that last sentence doesn’t sound the least bit exciting to you, you’re probably dead inside. The game uses a very distinctive stylized cel-shaded art style that is very eye-catching and looks great on the 3DS whether you have the 3D effects on or off.
But how does the game play? Well, I’ll be honest with you. The tutorial missions are rather slow, boring, and take far too long. The over the shoulder camera (which is a little easier to control if you have the New 3DS’s c-stick) and simple controls are extremely intuitive. There’s no reason that you need 5 different stages to get used to the controls and gameplay. The difficulty on these tutorial levels are surprisingly high. Running straight at the enemy will have you dead very fast. This is a strategy game after all, you need to pick your positions carefully and only engage 2 or so enemies at a time if you want to make it through. As such, the tutorial levels feel drawn out, each will take at least 15 minutes if not longer to get past. However, once you make it through the tutorial, you’re rewarded with a 4 man squad. This makes all the difference when it comes to gameplay. Coordinating the actions of 4 characters is much more fun and interesting. Additionally, once you get the 4 man squad, each character can equip an alternate weapon. This gives you a lot more options about how to coordinate, utilize and maximize the actions of your characters each turn.
If you’re looking for an action game, this one is not for you. However, if you’re okay with the slower pace and enjoy strategy games, be prepared to lose quite a lot of hours to this challenging, stylish, and charming game.
Do you plan on picking up Codename: S.T.E.A.M.? Let us know what your initial impressions are in the comments below!