Code Name: S.T.E.A.M. is a turn-based strategy game for the Nintendo 3DS by Intelligent Systems released in 2015. The art style is based on the Silver Age of Comics and featured a steampunk aesthetic. It has a playstyle reminiscent of Valkyria Chronicles.
This game is an active turn-based strategy game. Instead of pure grid based movement, the game utilizes a steam system. The amount of steam a character has remaining determines how far they can move and how many shots they can fire from their weapons. Backtracking is allowed, though, so long as the character does not heal, fire their weapon, or get fired at while moving. This locks in their movement for that turn.
The Overwatch mechanic acts as a security measure. If enough steam is saved, a character can fire at aliens that come into range during the Enemy Turn. Players can have up to four characters on a team, and the team can be changed between maps. Each unit comes equipped with their own primary weapon, which vary in usage. Sub-weapons can also be equipped to increase a unit's versatility. Once per map, a unit can also use their special move, which vary in effect. Some units also give special stat bonuses to the entire team, while others allow for certain overworld interactions, such as the Break, Push, or Hop abilities.
There is twelve characters the player can put on their team, all of which are based on characters from classic literature:
- Henry Fleming - from Stephen Crane's war novel The Red Badge of Courage, a tried and true American hero. His primary weapon is the Eagle Rifle, which fires three times and can be used in Overwatch. He also uses the Eagle Strike as his special attack, an explosive eagle-shaped bomb that can deal massive damage to its targets.
- John Henry - a hero from African-American folklore and symbol of the working man, John favors explosives over other weapons. He wields the Bear Grenade, a grenade launcher that causes high amounts of damage to anything caught in the blast radius, including allies. John also sports a mechanical arm that can transform into a hammer for his Hammer Blow special attack, which can flatten surrounding enemies with ease.
- Lion - the no-longer-cowardly lion from the Land of Oz. Lion has a massive amount of HP, but he's surprisingly nimble due to his primary weapon, the Lion Launcher. This move launches him in an arc toward opponents, and can also be used to travel long distance while conserving steam. His special attack, Mighty Roar, stuns and damages all surrounding enemies.
- Tiger Lily - a Native-American healer from Peter Pan who wields the Medi-Mortar. She has a variety of supportive techniques like Healing Wind, which recovers substantial amounts of health to nearby characters, including herself. As well, she works well as a scouting unit.
- Tom Sawyer - a cunning Missouri boy from Mark Twain's novel of the same name. He, too, can work well as a scout. Using his special attack, Hijinks, he can deploy a field of landmines in the surrounding area to ambush enemy aliens. His weapon, the Punch Gun, can stun enemies well, and makes up for its shorter range with very low steam usage.
- The Fox - a sniper character who wields the Fox Rifle and has very powerful Overwatch capabilities. Her Sharp Eye special attack doubles the range and power of her weapon during an enemy's turn. Unlike the other playable characters, The Fox does not hail directly from a novel or from folklore. Instead, she is implied, but not directly mentioned, to be the daughter of Zorro, likely due to copyright reasons.
- Randolph Carter - a recurring character from the stories of HP Lovecraft and presumably his alter ego, this scientist has a greater understanding of the alien threat than anyone else on the team. Randolph serves as a support character that can launch frozen meat as bait to distract enemy aliens, leaving them open for his teammates to hit more easily. His Eldrich Shield ability cuts the damage done to himself or any ally in range in half for that turn.
- Queequeg - a notable character from Moby-Dick that specializes in machinery. Queequeg wields the Penguin Lobber, which can launch mechanized exploding penguins. His special attack, Harpoon, can impale multiple enemies at once and cause heavy damage.
- Scarecrow - another denizen of Oz with a distinct Halloween theme, this character can lob pumpkin-shaped traps onto the battlefield with his Pumpkin Stunner. These can later be shot to stun enemies that draw near, or they can be left to explode at the end of the next turn for the same effect. His Trick or Treat special ability launches a mix of dangerous land mines and healing candy onto the area.
- Califia - a warrior queen that hails from the mysterious Island of California, this member of the team uses explosives like John Henry. However, her Rhino Bomber travels in a straight line like a rocket, rather than moving in an arc like the Bear Grenade does.
- Tin Man - a Japanese samurai-turned-woodcutter who had his body parts replaced with tin after a mishap in Oz. A kind and gentle soul, Tin Man is a support character who is able to refill allies' steam gauges with his Steam Projector. His special attack, Steam Bath, damages enemies in range while also refilling nearby allies' steam gauges, as well as his own.
- Dorothy Gale - a girl from Kansas with a plucky disposition. After joining the team to fight off the aliens invading Oz, Dorothy fights using the Toto Blaster. This gun is of Ozite design and fires a spread of emerald bullets in a fan pattern. Her Silver Streak special attack empties her steam gauge, but allows her to charge forward and ram through any enemy or obstacle in her way until she hits a wall.
- Stovepipe - an autonomous robot and a smaller version of A.B.E.. Fights using a Machine Gun that fires off five shots over a medium range as well as a close range Drill Punch that attacks in melee. It's special attack charges straight forward with it's arms becoming drills.
The game supports the Marth, Ike, Robin and Lucina amiibo. The amiibo act as part of the player's team. However, if they are eliminated, they cannot be revived like normal teammates, a feature carried over from their series of origin. The amiibo must be scanned in again for them to return.
There is local and online competitive multiplayer where players choose a team of four of their characters from the game to face off. The first mode, Death Match, is similar to the campaign's gameplay, but each player also has a timer, with the default being 60 seconds per turn. There is also a turn limit, in case of a stalemate. In A.B.E. Battle, each player operates their own Anthropomorphized Battle Engine and fight. In Medal Battle, players have to collect as many medals littered across the map as possible, but otherwise plays like Death Match.
Code Name: S.T.E.A.M.'s story takes place in a comic book. The story begins by an unknown figure opening the comic book before it pans toward it to show the world. The story takes place in an alternate version of 1865, in a universe where steam technology reigned supreme, allowing for highly-sophisticated steampunk-inspired technical advances.
The opening scene showcases London, with the radio transmission announcing the grand opening of the Steamgate Bridge. At London's United States Embassy, Captain Henry Fleming, the head of security, is preparing for the opening. All of a sudden, however, the city is driven to chaos as an alien invasion occurs. After regaining consciousness as a result of the embassy being attacked, Henry attempts to flee the area. Eventually, he encounters John Henry, his good friend from the American Civil War. John is the only other survivor from the embassy's security team, having been late that day due to having an appointment to upgrade his mechanical parts. The two then fight through some more aliens before receiving a communications signal over the wireless, telling them to head toward a smoke signal if they wish to survive. After getting to the smoke, the two are rescued by none other than Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States of America. As they climb aboard onto Lincoln's airship, the Lady Liberty, Henry and John are drafted into S.T.E.A.M., the Strike Team Eliminating the Alien Menace.
Lincoln then brings the Liberty over to Buckingham Palace for the new recruits' first task: to rescue Queen Victoria from the aliens. On this mission, they join up with Lion and rescue the queen through a means of defenestration. However, they must then destroy the Gunner alien before they can take off. The team joins up with Tiger Lily and the four destroy the Gunner, allowing for the Lady Liberty to take off at last. However, due to alien firepower, they are forced to make an emergency landing. John Henry convinces Lincoln to use the opportunity to rescue civilians. After joining forces with Tom Sawyer, the group rescues survivors encased in ice and brings them to safety. With the Queen and the survivors aboard, Lincoln himself is forced to face the terrifying Devastator, a behemoth of an alien that is destroying London. Lincoln pilots the Anthropomorphized Battle Engine, or A.B.E., a gigantic steam powered robotic suit shaped like himself, to take down the alien. After the fight, S.T.E.A.M. is forced to leave London, but vows to vanquish the alien menace once and for all. The team sets course for the United States.
Upon arrival in Boston, Massachusetts, the team is distraught as they realize that the aliens have spread further, imposing their icy brutality among those in the US as well. After liberating a US Army base with help from Queequeg, the team heads to Arkham, Massachusetts, where they hope to find information on the alien menace at Miskatonic University. They soon find that one of their agents, Professor Randolph Carter, is being held captive by aliens. Due to Carter carrying crucial knowledge dealing with the alien threat, his safety is of S.T.E.A.M.'s utmost concern. With the help of the Scarecrow, the team infiltrates the university library and extracts Randolph Carter from the aliens' clutches. However, while making their run toward the Liberty, the Starface alien telepathically commands a Prowler to steal Carter, while the Starface itself telekinetically steals his vital notes about the alien threat. After reading it all, the Starface and the other aliens escape, leaving behind Carter and his notes.
After regrouping aboard the Lady Liberty, Randolph Carter explains to the team what the Starface and the other aliens are likely after: the Necronomicon, an eldritch tome of forbidden knowledge, most of which has not yet been translated. Carter had studied it for years, and it's from the Necronomicon that S.T.E.A.M.'s weapons had become so advanced. The world's most impressive steam arsenals had been developed using methods found within the book, known as dark science. The aliens, Carter theorizes, are after the Necronomicon, and due to obtaining Carter's intelligence, know exactly where it is. As such, the team makes haste for the book's location: the White House.
While in Washington, D.C., the team joins up with The Fox and Califia as they fight to reach the Necronomicon before the aliens. After intercepting the aliens and stealing the book back, the team returns from the White House basement to find that the capital has been completely frozen over by another Devastator. After another match between the Devastator and A.B.E., the team once again retreats, saddened that they're leaving their capital behind due to the aliens.
While fleeing Washington, Randolph Carter briefs the team on a terrifying finding. After consulting the Necronomicon, Carter is informed about the aliens' dark secret. Sealed underneath the South Pole, there lays a titanic beast of an alien known as the Great Shugguth. The Shugguth serves as the leader, of sorts, to the aliens, creating new aliens along with being able to control them. The team then decides to kill the Shugguth in order to get rid of the aliens for good. However, to get through the ice, they must upgrade A.B.E.'s drill, so they head for the Boiler Room, a secretive S.T.E.A.M. base in the desert, where they meet up with Tin Man.
While S.T.E.A.M.'s engineers work to upgrade A.B.E.'s drill, the team is shocked to discover that the aliens have infiltrated the Boiler Room, armed with an Abomination as well, which threatens to destroy the Boiler Room in a gigantic explosion. Luckily, the team is able to dispatch the aliens. However, when all seems calm, one Prowler shoots at an explosive barrel near Henry Fleming and Lincoln. Lincoln pushes Henry out of the way, but is knocked unconscious as a result.
As the team flees the Boiler Room, they hear disheartening news: Lincoln is still unconscious and the drill was not finished. Distraught, the team looks for a new leader, and unanimously elect Henry Fleming to lead S.T.E.A.M. in Lincoln's absence. Afterwards, a glimmering light fills the room as a figure slowly descends from it. To the surprise of many aboard, it turns out to be Dorothy Gale, the final S.T.E.A.M. agent, who warns the group that aliens have invaded Oz. On Henry's orders, the team heads to Oz, utilizing "The Door," a high-speed tornado.
After arriving in Oz, Dorothy and Henry lead the charge and make it into Queen Ozma's palace. After defeating the Dreadnought, spawn of Cthulhu, Oz is liberated at last. The scene then shifts to Lincoln regaining consciousness in a palace bed, as Henry, Dorothy, John, Lion, Tiger Lily, Tom Sawyer, and Queen Ozma are by his side. Lincoln initially chastises Dorothy for revealing Oz to outsiders, but Queen Ozma assures him that it was in good faith, and that Oz has been isolated for too long. As well, she informs the team that Oz's engineers, as a show of thanks, have finished the upgrades to A.B.E.'s drill, allowing the team to drill into the South Pole to reach the Great Shugguth. In addition, Queen Ozma gives each agent an Emerald Key. Like Dorothy's Silver Slippers, these keys allow the bearer to instantly travel between two places at once.
After leaving Oz, the team heads for the South Pole as A.B.E. begins drilling into the Shugguth's lair. The team fends off another Abomination while the drilling takes place. Once under the ice, the team heads down to the chasm's lowest chamber, only to be met with the Starface guarding the Great Shugguth. The team, after a great effort, eventually kills the Starface. This alerts the Great Shugguth, who then burrows to the surface. With the area around them collapsing, the team uses the Emerald Keys to get above ground in the nick of time. Once at the surface, the crew aboard the Lady Liberty finds that the Shugguth's presence is causing the entire planet to freeze over. If it isn't stopped soon, it will freeze Earth to its core. Lincoln pilots A.B.E. once more for the final battle.
When the Great Shugguth is on its last breath, it continues to freeze the planet. Taking drastic measures, Lincoln rams A.B.E. right into the beast, holding it down while he deactivates A.B.E.'s cooling features. Over the wireless, Henry tries to talk him out of this, saying that there might be another way. Not wanting to risk it, Lincoln refuses, and tells the entire team that serving with them was a great honor. With that, he overheats A.B.E., causing it to explode and kill the Great Shugguth once and for all.
The scene then shifts to show that things have returned to normal after the Shugguth was destroyed. The Lady Liberty is still flying over the South Pole, and, in remembrance, the ship's crew and all of the agents drop bouquets of flowers to mourn the loss of President Lincoln.John assures Henry that everything will be okay thanks to Lincoln's actions, and Henry Fleming is appointed the permanent head of S.T.E.A.M. As the crew is mourning, a series of other airships from around the world also show up to pay respect to Lincoln for his heroic sacrifice. With a brighter future ahead, the team flies off as the comic book closes, leaving off on a sequel hook for S.T.E.A.M.'s next adventure. After the credits, the camera pans to A.B.E.'s remains under the ice, with Lincoln's hat shown in a small chasm. Next to it is Lincoln's Emerald Key, leaving the possibility that Lincoln survived open to interpretation.
The game was directed by Intelligent Systems employee Paul Patrashcu, who originally pitched the game with simply the words "steampunk Civil War." Patrashcu, at an interview with Gamespot at E3 2014, cited X-COM as a major influence on the title. Patrashcu wanted to use this style of gameplay to craft a new IP, while keeping the strategy aspect that he loved and that Intelligent Systems is known for. In particular the third person perspective with no overhead map to serve as help was a key aspect of the game's design, as they aimed to make the game more appealing to even those not particularly fond of the strategy genre.
The art style was inspired by both the steampunk aesthetic and the Silver Age of American comic books, according to art director Takako Sakai. In particular, the works of Jack Kirby and Bruce Timm were cited as inspirations. In addition, like how the main characters are taken out of the pages of classic literature and folklore, so too are the aliens themselves. Every species of alien in the game can be linked back to one of H.P. Lovecraft's cosmic horrors as inspiration, such as the Prowlers being based off of the Deep Ones, or the Abomination being based on the Dunwich Horror.
The game was received with mixed to mostly positive reviews, having a Metacritic of 75 and a 74.36% on GameRankings. Many reviewers initially cited the long enemy turns for the lower scores, though these were later fixed in an official patch, leading some review sites to amend their scores accordingly. The game was also noted for its difficulty curve on certain missions.
In terms of sales, the game performed poorly with only about 50 thousand sales in the United States and less than 2000 in launch week in Japan.