PAX East 2015: Hands-On with Code Name S.T.E.A.M.

At PAX South, we had a chance to watch a demo for one of the weirder games to be announced for the Nintendo 3DS, but were unable to play. Thankfully, a Code Name S.T.E.A.M. playable demo is now available on the eShop and it was loaded up for us to take a chance on at PAX East. For anyone who isn’t familiar, it’s a turn-based strategy game that essentially features famous figures of American history against an alien invasion, with a steampunk element overlaid.

The demo we played, for starters, looks amazing with the new 3D on New Nintendo 3DS. It’s a stunning visual style that works well with this increased depth and clarity, and a real treat for those who enjoy the steampunk aesthetic.

As for the gameplay, that’s where things get interesting. Interpret that as you will. You begin as a character, Henry Flemming, who faces off against a number of hostile alien invaders. Your actions are limited by how much steam you have, and steam is used when moving and firing a weapon. The player needs to learn how to achieve what they want through conserving and portioning the available steam—and considering how much steam they need to get to a refill station.


During the enemy turn, if you’re fired upon and have remaining steam, you’ll fire at enemies as they approach you—so again, it’s not a bad thing to play conservatively instead of simply blasting away with all your reserves.

Targeting needs to be done manually, which gets a little tricky, and does often require destruction of the environment in order to have a clear path. Environment does make for good cover, and it’s important to consider the range of weapons and enemies—and how close you can get them to come to you so you can fire back with remaining steam, instead of charging too far ahead and then having nothing to kill them with.

It was an intriguing play experience, especially when during the second half of the demo, a new character appears with a grenade launch that deals heavy damage to everything—and I mean everything—within range.

The game doesn’t move as quickly as you’d expect, though it’s possible that this is merely an early-level / demo symptom. It’s hard to tell what kind of a play experience this game will offer overall, as the demo levels really just give you a taste of the combat mechanic. It’s a humorous game though, that doesn’t take itself too seriously, which lends significant appeal to a game featuring Abraham Lincoln fighting an alien invasion with steam-powered weapons.

Code Name S.T.E.A.M. releases next week, so until then, we’ll reserve full judgement—but after the demo, I’d like to take another look and that’s got to say something.


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Author: Faith View all posts by
Faith likes games and books and cake and writing and Lara Croft, not necessarily in that order. She also thinks a Skylanders cartoon show is a really, REALLY good idea...

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