Heat Signature (PC)
Heat Signature is a top-down action game from developer Suspicious Developments. Players assume the role of different mercenaries attempting to liberate the surrounding nebula from opposing factions by completing different missions. To do this your mercenary must infiltrate different procedurally-generated spaceships and employ a combination of stealth, strategy, and attacks in order to succeed. Pausing is suggested, and near-necessary tactic as the mercenary you control takes on harder missions with more and better equipped enemies in your pursuit of liberation and your personal missions.
-Procedurally-developed environment and ships
-Sneak aboard ships in your pod to complete missions
-lets you act out your inner Boba Fett
OS: Windows 7
Processor: 1.7GHz dual-core CPU
Memory: 8 GB RAM
Graphics: Intel HD 5000 or better (GeForce and Radeon tend to be better)
DirectX: Version 9.0
Storage: 400 MB available space
September 21st, 2017
Developer: Suspicious Developments
Publisher: Suspicious Developments
Heat Signature is a top-down action game from developer Suspicious Developments. Players assume the role of different mercenaries attempting to liberate the surrounding nebula from opposing factions by completing different missions. To do this your mercenary must infiltrate different procedurally-generated spaceships and employ a combination of stealth, strategy, and attacks in order to succeed. Pausing is suggested, and is a near-necessary tactic as the mercenary you control takes on harder missions with more and better equipped enemies in your pursuit of liberation and your personal missions.
Players are encouraged to show restraint on some missions that are labeled “Bloodless,” but otherwise, they are free to knock out, stab, shoot, blow up, and toss into space the in-game enemies. Those killed on the ship die with a large blood splatter. Additionally, players can kill enemies who are knocked out and helpless.
While not explicitly stated, the player is encouraged to continue with their liberation of the nebula by any means necessary. It’s not really explained why the mercenaries need to escape the influence of the four surrounding groups, but you never have to justify your actions, even if you break a clause like “Bloodless.” You’ll just get paid less. Also, some of the personal missions are revenge-based, such as “Get back at the Glitchers who killed my girlfriend.”
After an introductory mission that introduces your main contact for the game, Heat Signature sets you free to earn credits and work your way towards liberating the surrounding space. Players are free to take missions ranging from “Easy” up to “Mistake” difficulty, with a number of variables affecting the challenge. Number of guards, bosses, alarm time, as well as other modifiers such as “Bloodless” or “Silent” all change from mission to mission. My favorite modifier is the “Glitchback Guarantee,” which can instantly teleport the player back to home base when they would have taken damage. Glitchback is always attached to hard missions that might not otherwise be attempted. Heat Signature dares the player to get in over their head and make mistakes, which is commendable.
In order to complete these missions, you have a plethora of weapons at your disposal to help you with your shipboard skull-duggery, such as guns, teleporters, grenade launchers, shields, and electronic beams. Many can be picked up in-mission, but there are well-stocked shops in your home base if you have the credits to spend. You’ll also need to save up around 200 credits to be able to do your personal mission, which can also see you rescuing a (Steam) friend’s mercenary, or getting revenge on a group who killed your girlfriend. Completing these missions gets you a in-game achievement.
The top-down view can feel disorienting at first, but after playing for a short time I couldn’t imagine a different way. If it was a first-person shooter it might feel like a Dishonored clone in space—and I mean that in a good way. But since Suspicious Developments is an indie studio, the top-down choice makes perfect sense. A particularly nice feature in Heat Signature allows players to pause and assess their options; from the pause screen, you can see any items downed NPCs have dropped, and either take them or send them to your stash when you leave the enemy’s ship.
The controls are clean and simple. You use WADS to move, E to interact. Spacebar pauses, Mouse buttons 1 and 2 are your two weapons which can be reassigned in the pause menu. This simplicity should not be taken for granted though. Players are free to accomplish missions however they see fit, and the controls not getting in the way is nice when you’re trying to teleport into a room, knock out your target, shoot a guard while getting him to shoot his buddy, and not set off the alarm.
Let me give you an example of my favorite heist so far. I was tasked with capturing someone alive while not killing anyone on the ship. In my inventory I had a concussive shotgun (space bean bags, I guess) and two teleporters. One was a “Swapper” that let me swap places with an enemy leaving them where I was, causing confusion, but not enough to raise the alarm; the other was a “Visitor” which teleported me for a short time then snapped me back to my original location.
Taking out the captain on any ship is crucial, since that will shut off any alarm; if you’re still on a ship when the alarm hits zero, you get captured, and it’s game over for that character. So, I had sneaked my way near the captain’s room, only to find the adjacent room crawling with guards and an auto turret, all of which could see into the captain’s room. But when a guard wandered into an out-of-sight corner of said room, I saw my opportunity. I “Swapped” places with him and immediately fired on the captain, knocking him out cold. All the guards were now trained on my room, so I used my “Visitor”” to teleport behind them, and disabled the turret with a crash beam. I then took out a couple guards with a concussive shotgun blast, and by then was able to “Swap” again with another guard, leaving him standing amidst the chaos, and confused—in the pause menu you can see guard’s mental states of confused, panicking, or searching. The “Visitor” teleport then took effect, placing me back in the captain’s room. Now I just had to mop up the confused stragglers, get my target, and walk out.
This is a fun game. It makes a whole lot more sense if you approach it more as a puzzle, than a shooter—guns are just one of the many tools in your inventory to get the job done. The only flaws I could find include its difficulty, which can be negated by the player just taking easier missions, and the repetition of missions. Some of them are very similar, or feel like it—the gameplay isn’t all that different when you’re capturing a target alive versus rescuing a friend. That being said, you would be wise to pick this one up if you’re a fan of shooters that make you think.
- Easy to jump in and play
- Pausing and planning your actions helps with strategy
- Players are free to employ a variety of tactics to achieve goals
- High replay value due to procedurally-generated environments
- Missions can get repetitive
- Top-down view can be disorienting at first
- Difficulty of some missions can be daunting