Spaceship hijacking sim Heat Signature [official site] is coming out on Sept 21, says creator and Gunpointer Tom Francis. Like its spiritual predecessor, it involves infiltrating places you shouldn’t be, sneaking around like a cheeky space burglar, and completing missions for one of the galaxy’s factions. But ultimately it seems to be about panicking as all your plans and preparation go terribly awry. I asked Francis why he was proliferating the Things Go Badly Wrong genre and he said that “most games with challenge” fitted that description.
“The part I like,” he said, “is ‘But There Might Be A Way Out Of It’.”
“One of the design goals for Heat Signature was ‘Recoverable Catastrophe’,” said the fallen PC Gamer journalist. “I think when you get into trouble, the least interesting thing that can happen is a red screen and ‘Game Over’. So I want to provide every opportunity for you to find some clever way out of your predicament. Every time you do, that’s instantly a better story than ‘I died 25 times but the 26th time I did it.’
“I’m the kind of person who has never and will never punch the air at a moment in a movie, but when I figured out a way to win an impossible battle in FTL by disabling my own shields, I danced like a moron. That’s the genre I want to make games in.”
Here’s Francis announcing the release date but also explaining a silly gun that players can find if they buy in the first week. It’s called the Everything Gun and it can be loaded with, for example, everything.
Adam played an earlier version of the upcoming Things-go-wrong and called it a “comic cosmic playground”. A game of pausing and unpausing, swapping places with enemies using gadgets, frying electronics, and trying to survive multiple ejections into the vacuum of space. But these were his closing thoughts:
As it stands, right now, Heat Signature is hilarious and surprisingly skill-based. True, most of the skill is in your ability to plan and think on your feet rather than in twitchy responses (the pausing ensures you don’t need the ability to pull of ludicrous reflex shots), but there’s a very solid stealth action game behind the farce.
Disclaimer: almost everyone at RPS knows Tom Francis personally, having been a journalist for PC Gamer, but we all now talk about him behind his back.