Screenshot Feature: Steam Squad!

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An alt-history wargame with some interesting graphics ~

Michael Eckenfels, 17 August 2016

If you’ve fantasized about a Steampunk game set during an era when humanity was actually just starting to leave steam-powered technology behind, you’re in luck. You’re even more in luck because the game is called “Steam Squad,” and is at heart a point-and-click, real-time tactical combat game set during World War I.




The game is currently on Steam (might as well see how many times I can type “steam” in this article), and the artwork is pretty nice. I can take or leave Steampunk-themed games, unlike some people around here (cough-Brant-cough), but I can see the appeal. I like the Victorian-era theme with not-quite-sci-fi blending with horse-and-buggy-era steam-powered crafting.


The English leaves a lot to be desired, though.




Heh. “Urgently-recruited freshers.”


What the heck is a ‘frensher’ exactly? I think they were meaning to say “fresh troops,” or perhaps “The new recruits among us shake in fear; they have never smelled the smoke of a battlefield, let alone laid eyes on an enemy steam weapon.” Or something like that.





I’m not bagging on the game for not having good English grammar/word usage (well, okay, I am, but those of you that know me know I do this). It just never fails to surprise me that someone whom does not have a full grasp of the English language doesn’t get it proofed at least by a native speaker. Perhaps that’s not in the budget, and that’s perfectly understandable, but there’s plenty of people out there that love doing this kind of thing (aka, me).






Visually, the game is quite good. The RTS style reminds me a lot of older games like Blitzkrieg, though this one injects various interesting animations, including close-ups on occasion of your soldiers running to meet the player’s orders.


Thing is, though, it’s quite hilarious when you see one of your soldiers from a certain angle, and see them rushing along with a very awkward gait that reminds me of a bird or a CGI dinosaur from one of Those Park Movies. I can only assume this was done on purpose. If you’re looking for a ‘serious’ fantasy wargame involving steampunk, this alone is plenty to snap you out of your newly-created reality.






There’s a lot of backstory involved in the game, and even though the grammar was relatively atrocious, it is not all that hard to follow. I enjoy this kind of alt-history stuff, but the game doesn’t really delve too deeply into history; rather, it presents itself as a World War I tactical combat RTS in a world where two halves of Russia are at war.






At heart, this World War I re-imagining is essentially the same as the real World War I, just with different place names and the geography shifted about 10,000 miles to the east.


The trench warfare aspect is the same, too, and the game plays out with you controlling a squad of troops that you put together, yourself. I’ve always preferred to build my own force as opposed to controlling something the game determines ahead of time.






Before each mission, you’re allotted a certain number of points to spend on your squad’s composition. These range from what is essentially a heavy machine-gunner (carrying what looks like a Gatling gun) to an infantryman (just your average grunt).






A quick tutorial shows you the ropes, which are pretty self-explanatory for anyone that’s played these types of games before. The tutorial is fortunately short, so there’s not that much that needs to be shown. That’s a nice benefit, but further pigeonholes the game into the ‘casual tactical wargame’ arena. That might be your bag, that might not. Regardless, the game does look good.


It plays relatively smoothly, too, but occasionally gets laggy; the longer I’d play it, in fact, the worse the delays and freezes would get. This, on a 12GB/3.4MHz rig that’s a month old. It could be my graphics card, which is just a simple i7 HP, so take that as you will.


Regardless of the issues – language, lagging – this was a fun game, but I enjoy RTS-type games. Give it a try, especially if you’re into World War I and Steampunk.

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