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Steam Marines

By JcDent20-02-2014
Azeebo (editor)
CrimsonE (editor)
Steam Marines

The Defence

Worthless Bums
Worthless Bums
Indie, Role Playing, Strategy
Release Date:

The Prosecution

Intel Core 2 Duo 2.0 GHz
AMD equivalent
Nvidia GeForce 8400
AMD equivalent
2 GB
30 MB

The Space Marines of the Adeptus Astartes are humanity's übermensch (or a generic term for sci-fi's widely spread “we're the USMC, but in SPACE!”) soldiers. Steam Marines are basically that but with some steampunk aesthetics added for good measure. You’ll lead them in a top-down 2D fashion, where the goal is to kick steam-alien butt and hopefully survive. Imagine XCOM, but with four guys. You may have never expected a turn-based steampunk strategy game in space but that's exactly what you get with Steam Marines.

The spacecraft carrying your marines comes under attack, and the titular troops are taken out of cryosleep to find out what's wrong. Before the game starts you can change the makeup of your squad. The default configuration is to have one of each of the four available classes, which is a good, versatile start. But before long, things might start to look quite different, as casualties mount, replacements are rarely timely, and almost assuredly not up to snuff.  

The few, the brave, the Steam Marines!

The few, the brave, the Steam Marines!

Your four martyrs are the Leader, Scout, Support and the Grenadier. They each have different movement speeds and armor values but the most important thing is their boomstick. The Scout has good range and damage, but is short on ammo. The Leader has a shotgun, “blessed” with the typical video game shotgun range. Support tots around the MG with lots of ammo but limited range. Finally, the Grenadier has a grenade launcher with “collateral damage“ written all over it. Yet no matter the descriptions, the game plays out very similar to XCOM: Enemy Unknown -overwatch is king and queen - but with cover-seeking replaced by flanking. If your squad survives long enough, which is highly unlikely, they will gain levels, skills, and stat upgrades. But you'll likely exit the level with a diminished squad and great hopes of the Random Number Generator giving you a decent newbie in the elevator. Most likely it won't and the newbie will be useless at his job.

It's quite a brutal game too, what with being a tactical roguelike in randomly generated spaceship levels. While your goal is always the same, to reach the elevator, the path is wrought with plenty of dangers and very little respite. Mines are scattered around haphazardly, enemies burst out of walls and vents (even while not looking like xenomorphs), ammo is scarce and healing items even more so. Every enemy has the potential to spell your doom. Vendors are also exceedingly rare and require substantial amounts of cash to be of any use. Why, if I had it my way, I'd just throw those layabouts off the ship!

Spreading up is bad. Bunching is good. Massed overwatch is best.

Spreading up is bad. Bunching is good. Massed overwatch is best.

That being said, it's possible to do that with other enemies. You see, for a spaceship, this one is very malleable, and by that I mean you can punch holes through walls. The enemy can do that too, and the Grenadier destroys two wall tiles for every enemy he explodes. After puncturing the hull, you only need a simple melee shovel or a shotgun blast to make some alien wog suck vacuum for the rest of his, now likely, short life. Curiously enough, destroying walls also makes the elevator zone expand which can be used to your advantage as your goal is not to kill everyone, but to escape. Still, it's better resource management to just kill everyone.

All in all, Steam Marines looks like an interesting enough game. Going away from the usual roguelike scheme of endless dungeons filled with various Tolkienesque monsters and introducing team based combat elements feels really refreshing. Now, we just have to wait and see how the end product will pan out.

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