What is Steam Squad?
Steam Squad is a tactical, turn-based strategy game that places you in control of a squad. The game occurs in a world that is vastly different to the one we know today. The developers at Bretwalda Games have reached alternative conclusions to many of the outcomes that have shaped the modern world. These conclusions include:
- The British never losing control over the United States
- The Tianxian Empire colonizing Siberia before Russia
- The Gao (Chinese) colonizing Australia instead of the British
It is because of these game setting decisions that I found myself deeply fascinated with it before I began to play.
Arguably the biggest negative effecting Steam Squad is the unpredictability of the AI. More often than not I would argue that unpredictability is a key strength. However, in this instance, there are enemy soldiers who are able to kill you from the other side of the world. On the other hand, there are soldiers who would make the perfect candidates for hired the Empire to employ as Stormtroopers. I believe that this is a problem with the RNG.
This isn’t simply a case of the AI getting better as the levels become more difficult. I could understand if it were a case of the game proclaiming you to be becoming too good for it and ramping up the difficulty. Unfortunately, it isn’t and it appears to be this way throughout the game. And when you do replay a level it isn’t the same enemy that has the same ability. As a result, I am left to conclude that randomization can be good is good but not if it comes at the cost of poor AI.
Streamlined Gameplay Mechanics
Steam Squad has a tendency to feel very streamlined as far as turn-based strategy games go. The classics seem to have much greater depth and variety to the gameplay. However, I wouldn’t necessarily mark this as a negative against the game for everyone. If you’ve played the classics and want something a little less hardcore then this game would be very suitable for you. Likewise, if you are new to the genre and some of the older titles feel too daunting then this is the game for you. In other words, it has the potential to be a great gateway game. Consequently, I believe that it is sometimes games such as this that offer sufficient challenge but are not too full on that provide the gameplay that we need.
User Interface and Graphics
In my experience, I have found that some of the games that are too daunting are because of their user interface. In the case of Steam Squad the developers need to be applauded. This is because UI is very player friendly. It has been well thought out and ultimately implemented to perfection. Of particular note are the way in which action points are displayed. There are multiple points where this is displayed. The first is in the soldier’s status which is located immediately below the soldier. The second is in the UI which is also where you can set the number of AP that you will use per move. I believe that if you set it to a higher amount accuracy will tail off slightly and increase if you set it to a lower number. Consequently, this has a significant impact on the strategy employed.
In other aspects of the game, I was both pleased and frustrated with the graphics. Perhaps cover is the most frustrating aspect of the graphical display. It can be frustrating to believe that you are in cover only to find out that you are not. As a result, I learned to err on the side of caution and to believe that my soldiers were not in cover. Sometimes they were and that was great but it wasn’t always the case. I would recommend taking this strategy. Otherwise, the game is very pleasing on the eyes and accomplishes what it sets out to do.
Is it Steamified?
The developers have done their job in regards to making their game Steamified. They have added both trading cards and Steam achievements.
If you’re a fan of alternative world histories and strategy games then Steam Squad is the game for you. I believe that the developers are committed to correcting the issue with the AI. Everything else runs fine. The presentation is pretty and well presented. It’s a solid game by a small indie studio and they should be proud of their effort.
Developed by: Bretwalda Games
Reviewed by: Bretwalda Games
Released on: 28 July 2016