SteamSunk is a twin-stick shooter, only without the second stick actually firing.  Instead, it aims while you hold the right trigger to fire, which increases the potential for hand cramping about ten fold.  Otherwise, this is a typical TwickS (a word I just invented), with the twist being the maritime setting.  Enemies come at you in waves and you fire on them, watch them crash into the water, grab items, and then shoot some more.  Every five waves a boss will appear, bringing a hoard of baddies with him.  Items are your typical assortment of TwickS standbys, like a flame thrower, rocket launcher, and machine gun.  If this doesn’t sound exciting, my apologies, but I can’t really spruce up the description of something this generic.

So what sets this apart from your average XBLIG TwickS?  Well, badness for one thing.  It’s pretty hard to screw up a twin-stick shooter, so it’s almost admirable how many ways SteamSunk pulls it off.  The absolute biggest issue is slowdown.  When multiple baddies are on-screen at once, the frame rate starts to sputter like a bird just flew into its intake.  This is especially a problem when the later bosses show up.  They tend to bring dozens of enemies with them, all of them clustered together in a way to make your processor wave a flag of surrender.  By around wave twenty, things are chugging so hard that I went from full life to instant death in a matter of moments because I could not keep up due to the skippiness.

There’s a few small problems that also contribute to the downfall of this.  The items aren’t always helpful, especially the rocket launcher.  It’s slow and clunky and every single time I picked it up I gave myself a nice, hearty cussing for being so stupid.  There’s also a super-duper weapon, called the “SuperMortar” that’s almost totally worthless.  When you use it, the game pauses and you line up where you want the bombs from it to drop.  The only thing is, once you use it there’s a delay before it actually begins to drop, and the enemies are usually long gone by time it starts to fall.  I’m sure the intent is to drop the SuperMortar where you think the enemies will be once the move kicks in, but in the later stages the bosses move quickly and randomly enough that it’s not always possible to guess.  So all it’s good for is to bog down the frame rate even more, like it needs your help with that.

Meanwhile, the controls are less than smooth and the enemies are really fickle about where you can shoot them.  The bosses often camp outside of the water and if they die there, you can’t grab the items they drop.  The graphics are boring, the map is dull, and there’s no online leaderboards.  I can’t think of a single reason why you would want to own this one.  The Xbox Live Indie Game scene is full of dozens of games that do the same exact thing, only better.  And why the fuck doesn’t the right stick shoot?  At no point when you’re aiming the gun will you also not want to also be shooting.  Sorry fans, but I can’t resist the easy pun, so here it goes: SteamSunk really SteamStunk.

SteamSunk was developed by Snape

80 Microsoft Points lost out on the Defense of the Dark Arts position in the making of this review.  Damn that Potter!

Hurley, whom I hear swabs the decks one Q-Tip at a time, also covered this for Gear-Fish

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About Indie Gamer Chick
Indie game reviews and editorials.

One Response to SteamSunk

  1. Pingback: 10/8 XBLIG Rundown | Gear-Fish Reviews

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