Media

Steamburg Review

December 11, 2017 Written by

Steamburg hits a metaphorical iceberg and sinks. A lot.

Steamburg, which was developed by Telehorse and published by Microïds Indie, has a great premise: Solve puzzles to destroy killer robots in a steampunk world. What is not great is the implementation of this premise. Poor decisions in design have sapped the life out of what could have been fun to play, making it hard to appreciate the few things that were done right.

The most pressing problem is that I lost count of how many times Steamburg crashed for me, and I didn't play for much more than three hours — in large part for that reason. It’s simply not ready for release.

The levels consist of navigating your character around a single screen, with the objective of luring all the killer robots to their destruction. The level will not end until you do so — and even if you do manage it, you must also gather all the energy balls to get a perfect score. So far, so good.

The problems arise with the fiddliness of moving your character and executing actions. I despise the click-and-drag mechanism for throwing bombs, which you have to do for nearly every puzzle. The character can spin in place to turn the direction of the throw, but this happens so easily without you intending it that it makes it an exercise in frustration. You must be very, very exact and take your time aiming, or else your throw will end up somewhere you did not intend.

Even when you’re careful, you find yourself spending a lot of time cancelling a throw, repositioning yourself, and then attempting the throw again. It feels incredibly unstable, which is a real problem when this is what you spend the majority of your time doing. I often had to redo levels over and over because of mechanical mistakes like these, which made the title tedious very fast. Instead of testing my puzzle-solving skills, each level only seemed to be testing my patience.

Sounds… exciting? No. Fun? No. Familiar? Yes — annoyingly so.

Maybe the idea to have airships, clouds, and hot air balloons float over the puzzle field seemed like a good idea in the sense of adding visual interest. Truly, Steamburg does sorely need some more visual interest, as the scene doesn't vary apart from these additions. But this solution is so, so annoying. You cannot predict when these objects will obscure your vision of the ground below, yet solving the puzzle requires time-sensitive reactions. This mixes very poorly. You must sit and wait for the object to pass by until you can continue, or else you just continue blindly and hope you don't die.

The sound effects are reused without any variation, occurring frequently. I found myself cringing to hear the same thing so often. It is excusable for sounds that realistically would sound the same all the time, such as footsteps, but it is unnatural to make the same exact sound every time you die, or to have the identical sound of static on your radio between every utterance.

The narrative we're given is that a smart professor dude (you) has figured out how to save the city of Steamburg from the robots that are killing everyone. You alone are brave and smart enough to face the danger, apparently, although why couldn't you just tell everyone what to do so they could help? I guess there isn't time, or something. It's not explained.

Anyways, you also have to save the love of your life. A damsel in distress, of course. I guess you're supposed to care, but I found that I couldn't.

4

The Verdict: Flawed

Steamburg needs more polishing to be player-friendly, being too buggy and clumsy in its current state. But even if these problems were addressed, Steamburg would merely be a predictable puzzle adventure with lacklustre visuals, a stereotypical storyline, and uninspired puzzles.

Image Gallery

Read 228 times
Tiffany Lillie

Tiffany is a gamer who appreciates having her mind stimulated. Her favorite games achieve this by telling great stories, presenting challenging puzzles, or by allowing her to be creative. She's a total sucker for games that allow her to customize things, although even she will admit there should be limits.

Related items

  • Odysseus Kosmos and his Robot Quest Review

    Odysseus Kosmos and his Robot Quest is a charming title and a solid first entry into an episodic series. The old school pixel graphics and humorous banter give the game a human touch, while it gets hurts by dialogue that feels long winded at times. As a narrative-driven point-and-click the story is paramount, and while the puzzles are interesting there isn’t much character development or narrative so far. Just enough to keep you hanging on for further episodes.

  • AGONY - The Red Goddess reveal

    As the main antagonist in Agony, The Red Goddess plays a significant role in Agony story, and her personality makes her the most terrifying entity that players will ever encounter in the game. She might be seen as an innocent, beautiful woman, but this makes her the deadliest enemy that player can meet in the world full of agony and terror.

  • Hello Neighbor Review

    Rather than try and make a quick buck out of cheap thrills, Dynamic Pixels and tinyBuild took the popular trope of hide-and-seek horror and twisted it into something new and creative.  There is a great game buried here, as long as the development studio fixes the problems currently plaguing Hello Neighbor...  And if they can manage to really polish it, then the horror genre has much innovation to offer.

  • TARTARUS Review

    TARTARUS is a unique concept in that it makes computer puzzles come alive with realistic representations, where most titles try to make abstract mini games out of “hacking.” The plot and overall horror atmosphere don’t come together, however. Overall, this is a solid attempt at making light programming puzzles interesting, but more work needs to be done in this area before we see a title that is truly free of tedium.

  • Have you heard about DIE YOUNG?

    I’m sure you’ve already heard about DIE YOUNG, the visually impressive first person open world survival game set in an island in the Mediterranean Sea featured by Daphne, a brave heroine who tries to escape from this dangerous place.