Well, here’s an excellent idea. Tom Francis, the fella behind Gunpoint and Heat Signature (and various journalistic endeavours back in the day) has released an update for Heat Signature that takes ‘fair points’ from reviews and adds a feature or an item to address each of them. They’re all simple tweaks to the ‘plans gone wrong space-heist ’em up’, but the update lured me back into the game last night and its surprising just how much of a difference they make.
The ‘Glitchback Guarantee’ might be my favourite addition. In response to the incentive that permadeath gives players to play cautiously and not try harder missions, some missions now have a client that will instantly teleport you out when you get hit. Like Tom, I usually dive into tough spaceships under-prepared and hope that I can think my way out of any sticky situations anyway. Those are the moments where Heat Signature shines, and the Glitchback Guarantee encourages me to throw myself into even more of them.
I’m also a big fan of the extra information you now get about each mission. You’re now told exactly how many of each guard type there are on each ship, which means you can go in knowing that you have the right tools for the job. The idea is, again, to encourage players to take more risks – in runs where I only had a limited number of tools, I’d err on the side of caution and avoid taking missions where I might get swarmed by armoured foes that I had no way of dealing with. Now, I might see that I’m up against 4 armoured bosses and decide to go into a mission with 3 grenades, hoping that I can either avoid or creatively tackle the last one. There are also new self-charging traps for taking out shielded and armoured dudes.
One complaint that Tom didn’t actually see in reviews, but did get from some players, was that they didn’t get on with permadeath. Rather than go with his initial reaction of “well, this game is not for you”, Tom’s added an option to just turn it off. He’s upfront about how this is a cheat that will make the game much worse for most people, but he’s included it for the sake of opening the game up to as many people as possible. I don’t particularly want to reignite that whole ‘difficulty-ageddon’ controversy, but hey, here’s looking at you Cuphead.
Finally, Brendy will be pleased to hear that one of his main problems with the game, a lack of visual clarity, has been addressed with the addition of a Simple Art mode that strips away the decor and makes everything much more readable. Guards that explode when you kill them are now tagged when you first see them, which deals with my main frustration on the parsability front. If Tom ever decides to take feedback from news posts as well as reviews: hey! Any chance I could have the option to turn on simple art, but only for Glitcher ships?
I won’t get my hopes up, because Tom also cautions that we shouldn’t get used to seeing updates like this. While the team might add some new gadgets at some point in the future, another update in this form is unlikely.
Oh, and there’s also a new weapon that strips away armour and flesh that fires acidic currency. Use with caution.
Disclaimer: One time when I was in Bath a few years ago, Tom Francis bought me a pint. Possibly two.