To kick things off, let it be known that this is not your typical shooter. This means that players who don’t generally enjoy the common shooter will most likely be intrigued by this game. Code Name STEAM is one of the most unique concepts seen these days. Making something that goes off the general conventions tends to be a risky move. This game effectively takes elements from shooters and tactical strategy games and makes one of the most curious soups I have ever tasted.
Enter steam technology, the phenomenon that took human society and turned London into a modern utopia. Steam makes things the world turn in this game and all seems to be just jolly. Of course, until a horde of aliens comes to invade Earth and seeks to take over the human race. These aliens seem to have some close ties with ice as everything seems to get frozen by them, even people. Henry and the other members of the elite team S.T.E.A.M. (Strike Team Eliminating the Alien Menace), must take work together to stop the invasion, protect the people and save Earth. You know a team means business when President Lincoln is the one who secretly made the team.
Armed with steam weapons, you must use strategy and take very careful decisions about every move you make, because it can cost you. The gameplay is set across multiple maps for the player to complete. Most demand the player to reach the goal area by getting your units through the enemy and onto the next map while others can ask you to rescue civilians while taking out alien scum. In either way, the game demands careful planning and allows for creative tactics to be used by the player. The tutorial is thorough and explains clearly how to use each unit’s strengths to your advantage.
You can take up to four characters along on a mission and each comes their very own primary weapon. This includes Henry’s Eagle Rifle, John’s Bear Grenade launcher and more. Each unit can then equip a sub weapon of your choice as well as a boiler, which is your steam-restoring contraption on the back of each soldier. Knowing how to place your units in the best ways can be very rewarding. This allows for players to learn about what to watch out for when advancing forward.
On the battlefield, players must use each unit’s steam in order for them to move forward and to attack. Sometimes, it is best not to use the full tank because you can also attack during the Enemy’s turn. This is called an Overwatch attack. If your unit has a green symbol next to their current weapon, then it can perform an Overwatch attack whenever an alien happens to pass by in front of them. This is a very important mechanic because the enemy can do it as well. So, multiple decisions are available to the player and can sometimes grant the advantage and eat tons damage. Do you move forward? Place yourself exactly at the edge of a square to be able to make a shot. The shooter aspect of the game is highlighted when wanting to make the shot. Since the player must aim an attack the same way you would in a regular shooter multiple shots could be taken with the right angle and aim. Of course, when in a pinch, players can call on a unit’s special attack to turn the tables on a grim situation. Some can execute multiple enemies in an area with an explosive attack while others can massively heal their allies to give everyone a fighting chance.
While planning is great and the mechanics are intricate and impressively executed in the game. The game must wait and watch the enemy’s movements when the player’s turn is over. However, that can be pretty long. The enemy turn involves every enemy unit that is currently on the map and the player must until all of them have made their move. Especially when just starting a map, the enemy turn can take a while to complete and no action happens because both factions are still far from each other. Having the possibility to fast-forward the turn could have been a good idea. Regardless it is still a stressing moment when the alien force begins their movement.
Besides the single player storyline, the Fire Emblem developers did well to add more fun into the mix in the form of online multiplayer. There are three different modes to try out. Death Match pins player in a team versus team where one player must eliminate all of the opponent’s units from the map. This is very competitive and invites players to continue customizing their forces to face off against others. Medal Battles asks players to collect as many medals in five turns. Finally, A.B.E. Battles give the game a whole new twist. Players fight against each other in giant mechanical presidential robots. Who knew President Lincoln was into mechas? These are Steampunk ideas at their finest! All jokes aside, the multiplayer modes add variety and allows for Code Name STEAM to continue to appeal to players.
Finally, as an added bonus, if you have any of the Fire Emblem Amiibo figures, you can tap them in to fight at your side. Marth, Ike, Robin and Lucina can join and bring their blades to the fight. They each have their own set of familiar primary weapons, sub weapons and special attacks of their own. If they ever fall in battle, then you must tap them back in after the map is completed.
I respect this game a lot. Intelligent Systems attempted an experiment with this title and they really pulled it off. This game’s concept really blew me off when they revealed back at the Nintendo Developer Roundtable last E3. Their ideas are very intuitive and the gameplay is very dynamic. The artistic style really matches the image they were going for. Plus, the game’s controls feel very comfortable with a New 3DS XL. I suggest you try this game as soon as you can.