On Wednesday night at E3 2014, Nintendo held a special roundtable discussion, where they announced a brand new game. In fact, it is a brand new IP. It wasn’t something we had never heard of before, but it was information on a game we had previously only heard about the name. Code Name: S.T.E.A.M. will be coming to Nintendo 3DS in 2015.
Intelligent Systems is making it, but Hiroshi Yamagami, from Fire Emblem and Pokémon fame, is highly involved in developing the game. (Miyamoto is not involved.) The developers have described it as “quirky.” It was highly inspired by steampunk and comic books. The developers said the concept of “steam” has inspired unique gameplay features.
This turn-based strategy game takes place in London, during the age of steam, in a cel-shaded comic-book style world with full voice-acting. It also contains many elements from action games. Everything uses steam in this dystopian universe with a steampunk vibe. Aliens are invading, and it is up to you to save the day. by controlling the S.T.E.A.M. unit, an elite fighting force put together by President Lincoln, to fight aliens.
You will control a team of four players, combining player points-of-view to understand the battle, conditions, and enemy placement. The main view is a third-person shooter, with an over-the-shoulder camera. You will have free-range movement, as you progress. Enemy health is shown onscreen as you attack. There is a big effort to remove abstraction between the player and the game world, in order to draw in new strategy game fans. The bottom (touch) screen will show available units, and you will be able to switch between characters at almost any point. And this is important to do, as you will not have an overall map. You can also setup characters to automatically attack when enemies walk into their line of sight on an enemy turn, as an “overwatch” attack.
A stamina bar is present for your moves and weapons. It will deplete with each turn. This bar also makes it so you can combine moving and attacking in the order and frequency you want. In that sense, it is very free-form within the turn-based (stamina) constraints.
The game is structured as a campaign with separate missions. Each mission has several maps. It appears that at least 12 characters will be available to select, based on the screen shown at the roundtable. You’ll be able to add new members throughout the game, and each have unique powers. There will be no grinding for XP, as you will focus more on expanding your team.
Each level has a lot of depth and verticality to them. Enemies are above on platforms, bridges, and inclines. It also looks like the environments are somewhat destructible. The colors are very bright. Pixel art is used for the terrain, so that it looks good from a distance and up close.
There are both main weapons and sub weapons. Some of them even have animal motifs that reflect the character’s personality. For example, the eagle rifle is used by the main character, who is very patriotic. Some weapons can stun enemies. It costs one attack point to stun them, negating the enemies on their next turn. Stun units take more damage than regular units.
The aliens in the game were inspired by the work of H.P. Lovecraft. The ice-based aliens are called “devastators,” who use machines and weapons. There are other enemies called “Prowlers,” who are intelligent and work together in teams. There are a ton of aliens, and they all resemble insects.
Throughout the game, you will see spinning green pillars, which act as checkpoints. You can use collected metals from aliens to restore health and steam at these checkpoints. The tradeoff is that spent metals can’t be used to buy weapons later. So, if you want bigger weapons, you will need to hold onto your metals.
The game, itself, can really be unpredictable. Though the presenters have played the levels multiple times, they end differently each time. The movement, attacks, “overwatch,” and more provide for very deep gameplay.
There is only one difficulty, but metals and healing acts as a buffer for the weaker players. More experienced players can purchase more powerful weapons instead of gaining health at checkpoints. And for those of you worried about the strategy RPG genre, the developers said you will not have to be good at math to enjoy this game.
You can expect Code Name: S.T.E.A.M. to launch on Nintendo 3DS in 2015.