The art of SteamWorld Heist

Since smashing onto the scene with its cowboy steampunk robots, SteamWorld Heist has become a firm favourite.

For those that haven't delved into this fascinating strategy game, the game sees you build up a merry band of robots and raid a series of increasingly hostile ships for loot and items.

The turn-based play means you have to think carefully about where to move your crew each turn. Get it right and you can fire trick shots that bounce off walls and crates to take out enemies.

Here, the game’s art director Tobias Nilsson tells us how they invested this turn-based action game with so much character, opening sketch books to show us the history behind the game's captivating design.

Steam-powered stars

“When we started working on SteamWorld Heist, we decided to keep the visual style of sharp-angled shapes that made its predecessor SteamWorld Dig so unique,” explains Nilsson. “But we also decided to make it grittier, with more detail to make use of high-resolution screens. We like to think of it as pixel-art for retina displays.”

A diverse crew

Some early sketches of your Steambot crew.

“Joss Whedon’s [space cowboy TV show] Firefly was a big inspiration for the feel of the crew and ship. Our goal was to steer away from stereotypes and create a diverse crowd with colourful background stories and motives,” adds Nilsson. “The crew members are rusted and dented, in order to emphasise their civil status as lowly Steambots.”

Captain Piper Faraday in all her glory.

A hankerin' for hats

“More than a hundred interchangeable hats can be collected throughout the game. They let players add a personal touch to their favourite characters,” he says.

“Each hat, weapon and item you collect either references something we like in real life, or describes the history and culture of SteamWorld. The descriptions are patently quirky and intentionally obscure.”

Wait... we recognise a few of those...

A scrapyard paradise

“The environments in Heist have different colour schemes to differentiate the factions in the game. Vectron is designed to stand out from the other three Steambot factions. This world is based on a dark, gloomy H. R. Giger-esque design.”

The universe is yours to explore. And blast away at.

“Since the robots of Vectron have mastered electricity and computers, the design is inspired by movies like Alien and 50s sci-fi pulp. The backdrops are scattered with winding, organic-looking cables, weird machines, and blinking lights.”

Ready to try for your own hat-trick? Then start planning your own SteamWorld Heist.

    SteamWorld Heist