When going through Code Name: S.T.E.A.M. , I couldn’t help but think Intelligent Systems was attempting to create a game that would expand player’s horizons. Initially, in the review , I posited that this could have been attempt to interest a younger audience. Using characters from famous literary works seemed like a clear sign of Nintendo attempting to get kids interested in turning to famous works by offering a chance to connect with characters in a different setting. The more I think about it, though, Code Name: S.T.E.A.M. is an ideal introduction to strategic games.
To start, there isn’t too much to think about. Most turn-based strategy games lay out everything in front of the player. You see the whole field ahead of you. Code Name: S.T.E.A.M. forces a player to focus attention on smaller increments. While this is akin to games like XCOM and Valkyria Chronicles , here it comes across as a more comforting design choice. A player has to devote attention to one element of the field at a time. This would certainly be more attractive to beginners, as it’s less overwhelming.
As is the array of equipment options. In many strategic endeavors, players have a full array of armaments from which to choose. Certain characters might fall into specific classes. A lot of thought can go into crafting the perfect team. Code Name: S.T.E.A.M. doesn’t make players worry about such things. There are no classes, though certain characters fit into archetypal roles. (Tom Sawyer is clearly a scout and Tiger Lily a medic.) Each person has one always-available weapon, though their sub-weapons and steam tanks can be altered. The sub-weapon allows for diversification and customization, but on a simpler level.
It’s a rather ingenious system. Those new to strategy games have less to worry about. Intelligent Systems made sure the default equipment was well rounded enough to satisfy needs from the first chapter to the last. People who have never played a title like Code Name: S.T.E.A.M. can feel comfortable knowing there’s a little less to worry about until they’re ready. Then, when they are, there are the variety of sub-weapons to choose from. The gradual unlocking gives people new equipment at a leisurely pace, allowing Code Name: S.T.E.A.M. to grow with them.
There’s are only a handful of examples. Other elements show how hard Intelligent Systems worked to ease people in to Code Name: S.T.E.A.M. . The liberal application of save points throughout areas, which even allow for unit restoration in exchange for medals, provide plenty of chances to go back if something goes wrong. While more experienced users will appreciate the chance to check in, should they need to step away for a moment, this is clearly an element to allow inexperienced users a security net.
Code Name: S.T.E.A.M. may not be exactly what everyone wanted or expected. I enjoyed it greatly, especially for the multiplayer elements, but could see how some may find it less than enthralling. Perhaps it could have been a little more complex or offered a more thrilling campaign experience. However, Intelligent Systems was clearly going for something with this game. It wanted players to learn something from it, and I believe they will.