App Reviewed on: iPad Air 2
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Steamworld Heist is a very surprising game for a couple of reasons. First is that it's kind of a sequel to Steamworld Dig, a completely different kind of game that never made its way to iOS. What's more is that Heist is a turn-based strategy game from a studio that's never made one before, despite feeling like one of the best entries in the genre on mobile.
Steamworld Heist is all about taking your ever-expanding crew of Cowbots throughout the galaxy and raiding ships in the interest of saving robot-kind. You start off with a humble three bots, but unlock lots of different companions along the way, each with their own set of special abilities and stats.
With this crew, you'll venture onto the battlefield–which is always a 2-D cross section of some sort of space ship–where you have to take cover, angle your shots, and make judicious use of your crews abilities to complete your mission unscathed. Each mission always has its primary objective to complete, but there's almost always a lot of loot laying around too, which you want to make sure you pick up if you want to get a perfect mission rating.
The most unique aspect of Heist is the fact that it's a 2-D strategy game. Though this does sound like a limiting factor, there are a lot of little design decisions that turn this constrained battlefield into a world of possibility.
Things like being able to angle your shots around obstacles and having escalating alert levels to spawn increasingly more powerful enemies over time create a sense of balance between both methodical, strategic planning and quick, tactical decision-making that works remarkably well with the game's flat battlefield.
As great as Heist's action is designed, the game can get more stressful that your average strategy game. This is mostly because there's no easy way to quick save constantly or save scum your way through the action. Luckily the penalties for failure in Heist aren't as severe as they are in XCOM, but it's still frustrating to lose a mission just because you made a wrong move or two.
To help make sure you're up for the next challenge, Heist does allow players to shop for gear so they have better chances in a fight. That said failing a mission in Heist results in you losing half your currency to buy said gear. This makes it so you have to replay old missions to grind out currency if you want to afford better gear to before re-trying a failed mission, which is mildly irritating.
The bottom line
It's very easy to look past Heist's flaws and just enjoy it for what it is. It looks and plays great, particularly in this mobile format, and its New Game+ feature will make sure you have plenty of robotic strategy action to work through even after finishing the main game.