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Steam Marines – Review (Alpha)

Steam Marines – Review (Alpha)

The ship is under attack. Civilians and Personnel have been evacuated. The squad is ready to engage. Not exactly sure what awaits them on their path through the spaceship, they bravely advance through the battlefield in outer space… ‘Steam Marines’ is a 2D roguelike, in which the player takes control over a squad of four …

Review Overview

Steam Marines - 8

8

Brilliant.

Summary : Steam Marines is a dark and compelling game, which will force you to learn to play the hard way and make you deeply regret every mistake you make.

8

The ship is under attack. Civilians and Personnel have been evacuated. The squad is ready to engage. Not exactly sure what awaits them on their path through the spaceship, they bravely advance through the battlefield in outer space…

‘Steam Marines’ is a 2D roguelike, in which the player takes control over a squad of four marines. The objective is to advance through the ship, securing and defending it from the ongoing robot attack. The Squad has to navigate through the different decks of the ship. Each deck is more difficult than the one before and with new decks, there are new enemies to fight. The game is currently in alpha, so it is safe to assume that there will be a lot of new content later on.

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After starting up Steam Marines, a simple start screen greets the player. When starting a game for the first time, the player has the chance to customize his team of marines. There are currently four classes available: leader, scout, grenadier and support. The leader wields a shotgun and performs best in short-range combat. The scout is the exact opposite: Using a sniper rifle, he stays at the back of the squad. The grenadier uses a grenade launcher and is lethal against groups of enemies. Lastly, the support uses a machinegun with a high ammunition capacity to defeat his enemies. The game is turn-based; each unit has a limited amount of AP (action points), which are used to walk, turn around or shoot. By comparison to similar games, Steam Marines possesses a feature that adds a huge amount of tactical possibilities to the gameplay: using melee on a wall will smash, and after a few hits, destroy the wall, creating a hole into the next room. This feature might seem useless in the beginning, but after the player learns how to use it best, it can save the life of a teammate, or even the lives of the whole squad.

Because Steam Marines is still in a very early stage, the only tutorial available is an overview over the key bindings, and the player has to find out himself how exactly the game works. Thus, the learning curve is extremely steep in the beginning. This is the worst thing about steam marines: The game is extremely beginner-unfriendly. The only chance of survival is using tactics the player first has to learn by himself. There are for example several items the squad can pick up and use in combat, but often the description is just a short sentence, leaving the player to try it out and find out how it can be used himself. The high difficulty is another factor which might make beginners put the game away and never touch it again: Make one mistake and it’s almost guaranteed that one of your marines will die, if not all of them.

Even with this challenge Steam Marines brings, once the player learns how to master difficult situations, the game brings an awesome experience and is extremely captivating, to say the least. While playing, it reminded me a lot of XCOM, only that losing a team member in this game is a real disaster. Although your team of marines stumbles over a survivor and can recruit him once in a while, those surviving units are untrained and rather weak. If there are a lot of rescued survivors in one squad, the team often proceeds slowly, but the player will always find use for another gun. Because the game is a roguelike, once you lose all your men, it’s game over. The only choice is to start over and hoping for more luck this time.

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The Graphics are 2D and 8-bit. The sounds and the music make the atmosphere perfect. The dark and rather slow background music pulls the player right in, making him forget what happens around him. On my first try, Steam Marines sucked me in and I completely forgot the world around me for the next two hours. We can expect a lot of features being added to the game in upcoming updates, like further development of marine classes, random encounters and objects which the player can interact with.

Steam Marines is currently available for $4.99 on steammarines.com. On the same website, a demo can be found.

Conclusion:

Steam Marines is a dark and compelling game, which will force you to learn to play the hard way and make you deeply regret every mistake you make. [8/10]

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About Dominic Inauen

Game Critic

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