The creators of Fire Emblem and Advance Wars have announced a steampunk shooter strategy hybrid for 3DS.
The game is called Code Name S.T.E.A.M. and the acronym stands for Strike Team Eliminating the Alien Menace. It’s a name the game’s creative director Paul Patraschu both made fun of on stage by warning us to hold onto our seats before telling us what the acronym stood for, and assured us was the actual, final name.
The game takes place in the 19th century during the age of steam, but aliens attack and it’s up to you to push back against the menace. The game’s visuals cross between American silver age comics and steampunk aesthetics. The aliens even have some H.P. Lovecraft inspiration making the visuals pull from a number of different inspirations. The game’s art director, Takako Sakai, also called out artists like Jack Kirby, Bruce Timm, and Mike Mignola as being very influential.
The game’s introduction began in London – the source of the steampunk aesthetic according to Patraschu – but the game stretches worldwide. Abraham Lincoln is involved in the fight, and we saw a special attack where the main character threw golden eagles at the aliens while an American flag proudly waved in the breeze behind him. Patraschu says he originally pitched the game as steampunk civil war, and the team just took off from there.
Nintendo and developer Intelligent Systems is designing the game to bridge the gap for players who are generally turned off by strategy games by injecting a shooter element. Players move around a map fighting aliens on a turn by turn basis taking full control of their weapon reticles when it is their turn. There is no overhead map, or radar – everything must be discovered by the player exploration.
The steam focus of the game works in favor of its conceit as players must boil water to create steam to power their movements and weapons between turns. It’s the developer’s way of injecting a semblance of realism into a genre that requires a healthy suspension of disbelief for general gameplay.
You won’t find permadeath in the game as it is designed around coordinating your team. If you were to lose someone important permanently, the whole structure falls apart. Patraschu says the game is still quite hard though, even without permadeath. Players who die return once you move to a new level, or they can be revived with found coins in the middle of a match. The coins will not be available in the form of microtransactions.
The game is set for release next year on 3DS.