2013 saw the release of more than a handful of strong indie titles. One that consistently seems to fly under the radar is Tom Francis‘ Gunpoint. Boasting innovative stealth and hacking mechanics, tight controls and a healthy dose of humor, it showed the immense care and polish that Francis puts into each of his projects. Now, a new project has made its way into the public’s view named Heat Signature and it looks to be every bit as intriguing and innovative as his past efforts.
Dropping players into the cockpit of a tiny spaceship in the middle of deep space, Heat Signature tasks the player with completing an endless series of stealth-based tasks as they move ever closer to their inevitable death. Think of it as a much more action-packed version of FTL: Faster Than Light. The core mechanic on display here though, is something that should be new to most gamers: temperature-based stealth.
To put it simply, the use of your ship’s thrusters generates heat. Heat sets off the sensors on nearby ships. Nearby ships are heavily armed and are looking for a reason to blow you all the way to Kobol. This mechanic that forces the player to find a balance between their mobility and stealth capabilities could very well make for some incredibly tense moments as players lightly tap their thrusters, attempting to realign their trajectory as they pray that they will come into contact with the enemy vessel’s docking bay.
Once inside, the player will be able to take control of key functions of the given ship from its artillery to its engines to its heat sensors as they avoid or incapacitate crew members in an attempt to complete their tasks. Speaking of tasks, both the player and their tasks will be randomly generated. The player will start each game with a role that will dictate the current playthrough’s style of play and selection of tasks, whether they be smuggling illegal goods, assassinating key figures or collecting enemy intel.
Like the player and tasks, enemy ships, their components, and the crew that inhabit them will all also be randomly generated. From tiny recon crafts to massive capital ships, the universe of Heat Signature will be filled with what could become a seemingly endless slew of “unique” content. Like so many of the past year’s popular indie titles (check out our favorites), Tom Francis seems to want each of the player’s playthroughs to feel unique.
In its current state though, Heat Signature isn’t much to look at and is devoid of the majority of its content. What is there though, is the framework for a game that could very well take indie fans by storm. It will no doubt find a comfortable home on the PC where Gunpoint found its audience, but with developers talking about the role indie games will play on consoles, particularly the PS4, this could be Francis’ chance to push his brand forward.
Is the framework on display enough to get you excited about Heat Signature? Would you like to see a more structured narrative implemented in the full release?