Shamelog #002 - Full S.T.E.A.M. Ahead

2 weeks in, 2 games done and dusted. Not bad!

This last week saw me powering through Code Name STEAM, a game I was hyped for pre-release thanks to my love of Fire Emblem - but then dropped like a hot potato once I saw the reviews and complaints. My impressions going in last Monday were tied to Austin Walker of Waypoint's heavy criticism on it on the Giant Beastcast, so I was expecting to be frustrated to no end. Happily, the improvements made to the game post launch (most notably the “speed up enemy turn” option, though also including some needed balancing) turned Code Name STEAM into a challenging yet fun 20 hour campaign.

In the beginning, I did not give a shiiiiiiit about the characters or story. I appreciate a good wacky game, but it felt like this steampunk-alt-history romp-with-storybook-characters was a little dumb. Well, for the first half at least - by the final 3rd or so, I ended up invested in the earnestness of the crew on board my steam powered blimp. I particularly appreciated the twist that came about just after Dorothy came aboard - definitely did not see that coming.

The combat style of this game, with its 3rd person over the shoulder movement and lack of map, frustrated me to begin with. Part of what makes FE so satisfying is knowing the variables at play - not having that knowledge, combined with the constant forward-push of new enemy reinforcements at the rear, did not bode well. But, once you get your head around what the game is trying to do and start working within the confines it presents, the tactical plays you start making are so gratifying. Each new character that is introduced adds a new layer of possible strategy to your roster - Even smaller, weaker units like Tom Sawyer became mainstays for my team.

The only complaint I would lay at the feet of Code Name STEAM is I wish it would give you more information about a mission before diving in. Often I would start a map and immediately realise that I’d chosen the wrong units for the job, causing me to need to back out to the menu and reconfigure my team. There is a "suggested" option prior to each map, but weirdly I found those units to not actually be the best choice.

Even with those minor complaints, I was surprised by the fun and depth Code Name STEAM provided, and was glad it was on this list. I know I 100% would have skipped it otherwise - turns out, the improvements and balances made post-release turned this game from an exercise in frustration to a solid tactical romp with more heart than you would expect.


Games left to play: 118
Current game: Watch_Dogs