In his review of Gunpoint, the first game from former journo Tom Francis, Dan Whitehead described the protagonist as a "flea in a trenchcoat" - springing through windows to administer dainty mouse-click beatdowns. To continue the theme, Heat Signature reminds me of those horrible wasps that breed by paralysing tarantulas, laying an egg on them and leaving their larvae to burrow into the poor creature, gobbling it up from the inside out. In this case, the tarantula is one of an endless series of procedurally generated starships, made up of cunningly stitched-together sentry gun chambers, hallways, keycard doors, fuel cell rooms and treasure boxes. The wasp is an unarmed but perilously agile single-seater pod, able to swoop across a twinkling 2D starfield and snap itself cleanly over an airlock in a matter of seconds.
And the larva? That would be your character, a scruffy vigilante out to stop an interstellar war by killing or abducting each faction's captains, stealing technology, hijacking vessels, saving captives and, once you've done enough of the foregoing, flipping space stations (which serve as mission select hubs and shops) to your cause. Your tools in this noble endeavour range from some beautifully bizarre teleport doodads and time control devices to that essential instrument of peace-keeping, the wrench. The sum of these parts is a wonderfully versatile, chaotic, lo-fi mixture of house-breaking sim and space roguelike, muddled a little by some uneven performance. If insect metaphors make your skin crawl, think of this as a bunch of Hotline Miami maps flying around a galaxy and you're halfway there.
Heat Signature is a game's worth of hectic anecdotes - precisely the kind of emergent storytelling bonanza you'd expect from a developer who once penned book-length accounts of feats of silliness and calculation in 4X strategy games like Galactic Civilisations II. As per fine Spelunking tradition, the best stories are often those in which you do something idiotic and must wrestle with the fallout. Here's a favourite: I've shot, stealthed and bludgeoned my way to the helm of a Sovereign battlecruiser, knocking the pilot the length of a corridor with my energy hammer, then downing my bounty with a concussion rifle when he moves to investigate. Having purged the ship of guards, all I have to do now is return with the body to my pod. Instead, I decide to be clever.
Gunpoint developer Tom Francis' long-awaited action roguelike, Heat Signature, will launch on PC via Steam 21st September.
Heat Signature is an almost comically ambitious affair that looks a bit like a procedurally-generated mix of Hotline Miami's top-down heists and Metal Gear Solid 5's more robust stealth mechanics. The sandbox game has you accepting missions to steal supplies or assassinate NPCs, then it's up to you to fly your ship around the cosmos, sneak onto the craft where your target is, and infiltrate the vessel.
In a cool twist on the formula, each ship you sneak onto is both a dungeon and a vehicle. Some ships are rather spacious labyrinths with plenty of guards patrolling, while others are more modest crafts, but they all have one thing in common: you can seize control of them and then cruise the cosmos with your new flying fortress.
You might have seen Tom Francis join us on last week's Eurogamer Show to talk about his rather excellent GameMaker tutorials, but that wasn't the only reason we wanted to catch up with him. Following the success of Gunpoint, he's now working on a new game and we wanted to see where it's at.
Gunpoint developer Tom Francis' upcoming procedurally-generated stealthy space adventure Heat Signature has sure come a long way since we saw it in August. At the time Francis was looking to hire an artist and composer and Gunpoint artist John Roberts filled the former position where he created the all new assets you can see in the latest developer walkthrough below.
Earlier this year Gunpoint developer Tom Francis revealed some prototype footage of his upcoming space adventure Heat Signature and now he's uploaded another video showing how it's shaping up.
Heat Signature puts players in the role of a thief or assassin as they travel the cosmos plundering ships and acquiring loot. The game gets its name from its ships' defense systems that can only detect you if you're coming in too hot/fast. As such, you need to slow down and gently glide yourself to dock onto a ship's airlock.
Once on board, Heat Signature become a more traditional stealth game where you avoid patrolling guards to snatch a package or assassinate your target. You can also accept new missions by hacking into a vessel's computer.
Gunpoint developer Tom Francis has released a video demonstrating a prototype of his upcoming stealthy space game Heat Signature.