Piper and her crew of Steambots return to put a stop to the reign of the Queen and her evil, Royalist followers, but this time, in HD.
With the success of SteamWorld Heist on the Nintendo 3DS at the beginning of the year, Image & Form has taken the next logical step and ported their charming side-scrolling strategy game to the big screen – or in the PS Vita’s case, the slightly bigger screen – and applied HD textures.
Gameplay-wise very little has changed in SteamWrold Heist HD. At its core it is still the game I fell in love with; regardless if I’m playing it on a 4.88-inch Nintendo 3DS screen or a 42 inch HD TV through the PlayStation 4. With this being said, however, I feel that the PlayStation Vita version could have gained from a little tweaking to the overall UI. I felt the 3DS version worked well in that all of the text and images were sized to take into account the portables smaller screen. The PS Vita version, though, feels too small. You’re viewing the full-screen version of the game on the Vita’s small screen. Text, for example, can be tricky to read and in some cases, it’s hard to see where you’re aiming.
The controls have been mapped over so fans of the series don’t need to worry about relearning how to play the game. The handy map that occupied the bottom screen on the 3DS is now visible with a tap of the touchpad on the PlayStation 4 and overlays the gameplay. As movement is not real time this impacts gameplay very little.
A simple, but a handy addition to the game is the ability to skip the movement phases of any characters – your own or the enemy. By enabling the option in the setting screen, players are able to hit the triangle button to skip straight to the firing phase for any character. Not an option I used too much, but it’s nice to have if in a hurry.
One feature I was hoping for in this release was the ability to use one save across platforms. As the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita versions are cross-buy, I thought there might be the option to transfer save across from one to the other. Alas, this is not a feature that Image & Form decided to add; in fact, as of writing this review, they have already advised they will not be implementing this feature anytime soon. Not a huge issue, but if you like to play SteamWorld Heist on the go, it’s a little disappointing.
Having played the 3DS version for many, many hours I was excited to have the chance to accompany the Steambot pirates through the galaxy on their quest to end the Queen’s tyranny and to ultimately save the galaxy on the big screen. Being an HD upgrade, the first thing of note is how good the game looks when playing on the PlayStation 4. The remaster takes full advantage of the range of colours available as well as the power of the console to deliver a smoother and better-looking experience. The character models are nice a crisp and the audio is superb.
I found the PS Vita version not to be as optimised as I would have hoped for and the lack of a cross-save feature was a little disappointing; but nothing that takes away from the overall experience of the game. The sights and sounds are nice and vibrant and the characters still spring to life thanks to the great writing. If you already own the 3DS version you may not want to re-buy the whole game; if you do, though, you won’t feel cheated.