A while ago, Polish indie dev Telehorse released the puzzle adventure game Steamburg. The title tells the story of a scientist fighting his way through a robot invasion; one level at a time. If I could explain the plot of Steamburg to you in one sentence, it would be this:
“It’s just men and ants. There’s the ants builds their cities, live their lives, have wars, revolutions, until men want them out of the way, and then they go out of the way. That’s what we are now…just ants.”
-H. G. Wells (The War of the Worlds, 1897)
Sounds endearing, doesn’t it? Before you delve into this review, however, remember that the article is geared solely towards the Switch version of the game. What you’re about to read may or may not apply to the PC or Apple/Android versions. Now that we got that out of the way, let’s get started!
The player falls into the shoes of professor Vincent Cornelius Moore, who has invented the perfect weapon to fight off a massive robot invasion: a Tesla Coil, which could be the key to ending the terror. The only problem with this plan? The numerous robots along the way.
This is where we come in. Throughout our matches, we’ll try to zap as many bots as possible. The story is told through fragments of letters and photos scattered across each map, with 32 levels split into 8 chapters.
The levels are also accompanied by short sequences that tell us more about Steamburg and its protagonist. We’ll soon learn that Vincent is not only trying to save the world, but also to find his fiancee in the midst of the chaos The voice over here, with actors such as Bruce Glover serves Steamburg well.
Going back to the gameplay, Vincent can’t attack the robots directly. Instead, you’ll be able to lure them by tossing an electro-bomb nearby. As soon as they get in range, the Tesla Coils will do the rest. The coils are also lethal to you, so be sure to keep a safe distance.
As for the levels, the entirety of Steamburg is built on this premise. The maps do still differ from each other, though; and the occasional teleporter will give us access to hidden areas from which to deploy our weapons.
Whilst the gameplay might sound slow, Steamburg requires you to think quickly. You’ll be on your toes as you try to collect power orbs, throw your electro-bombs, and defeat the robots without killing yourself along the way.
Steamburg had already hit the Steam Store about a year ago. The game did okay back then, even though some players complained about its controls. Hearing that the Nintendo Switch version had come out last month made me hope they’d fixed the issue.
Still, Steamburg’s main flaw is right back on the joy-con. The in-game sensitivity is simply defective. The flaw’s especially evident when trying to walk around sharp corners, and even more so when trying to aim the electro-bombs.
The importance of micro-managing the number of bombs you use is affected by this sensitivity issue as well. On each level, you only get a certain amount of ammunition. With that stick sensitivity and the lack of control on the aim, you’ll be restarting the level more than once.
Give It A Go?
If you want a reason to pick up Steamburg on the Nintendo Switch, despite its faults, it would be the story that carries the game forward. When you wonder whether that’s worth the $4.99 price-tag on the eShop, though, my definitive answer is a mixture of yes and no.
If you’re looking for a game that challenges you to think strategically and have a story that ties these puzzle levels together, then yes. However, if you’re in the market for a replayable game that is intuitive and easy to control, you may want to think twice about Steamburg.