Nintendo’s 3DS just keeps selling like hot cakes, and if the E3 population is anything to go by, every gamer and his mother has one. Now they have revealed an all new IP, and it will make many of you ridiculously happy.
The new game is called Code Name S.T.E.A.M. Just to clarify, this isn’t an internal code name, the actual name of the game includes “Code Name”. The game itself begins in London and is set in a steam punk aesthetic. However, during the presentation from Hitoshi Yamagami, Paul Patrashcu and Takao Sakai (some of the big names behind Fire Emblem) it became apparent that while the steam punk idea was initially just an aesthetic affectation, it later became an integral part of the game.
Code Name S.T.E.A.M. is a turn-based strategy game with action elements from third person shooters. Developed with Intelligent Systems, it was built in a way to try to overcome many gamers’ aversion to playing strategy games. Gone are the 2D bird’s eye maps or hidden mathematics. Instead, there is a strong focus on exploring the map ala third person shooter, while coordinating with the rest of your team like a normal strategy game.
Instead of grinding, the focus is on expanding your team. In fact, it’s impossible to grind up your powers to just get strong enough to complete a level regardless of ability. You will have to play to the strengths of your team and work to build that team up. As a result of this team focus, there is no perma-death.
Players move the team around the map – they have boilers on their backs that power movement and attacks. In this way, they use the idea of action points without really using them – players use steam to move around freely, with attacks also using a specific amount of steam. Each team member gets more steam each turn. There are also opportunities for special attacks and even attacking during the enemy’s turn. Despite its quirky and off the wall look, this game requires a ton of strategy.
S.T.E.A.M. stands for Strike Team Eliminating the Alien Menace and according to the story was created by Abraham Lincoln to protect against aliens. Those aliens have invaded, and while they are of an original design, there is quite a Lovecraft influence. Additionally, Sakai explained that she knew Paul Patrashcu didn’t like insects (even though she found them cute) so she also gave them an insect-like design to add to his desire to kill them.
The general design is based heavily on American comics because they are lively and positive with bright colours. It includes American influenced weapon designs, with one of the guns for the patriotic character taking the form of an Eagle rifle.
The level design is excellent, featuring verticality rarely seen in strategy games. This adds depth to the strategy and adds to the exploration as well.
Overall, the game felt like a much more upbeat, steam punk version of Fire Emblem in a 3rd person combat situation. The strategy isn’t quite so heavy as Fire Emblem, but it had a similar feel.