You are a mercenary in the deep recesses of space. You take difficult, dangerous, and often downright foolhardy jobs in exchange for that most generic of space currency: credits. You infiltrate unfriendly spacecraft, sometimes leaving with something or someone. Sometimes you leave somebody (or a whole lot of somebodies) dead in your wake. You equip yourself with the best weapons and technology that latinum can buy. These are the tools of your trade, your toys. Using your guns, gear, and skill you make daring and improbable moves to get the job done. Malcom Reynolds, Star Lord, and 007 wish they were you.
Starting out new to the game, you had to steal, rescue, and assassinate your way up the space-mercenary ladder and build a résumé. You had to find, steal, and, unfortunately, buy your gear. You made mistakes, lots of them. In fact, you made all the mistakes, but you figured out how to get out of them. You didn’t wind up dead. You got good at thinking on your feet and adapting.
More difficult jobs rolled into your inbox as your experience and equipment improved. You started feeling good, feeling fast, feeling unstoppable. You pulled off things most people, normal people, wouldn’t even consider. You still made mistakes, let’s be honest, but you were so good it barely mattered. You got paid, got rich, became notorious.
Then you made the big mistake. You mistimed the approach to your target ship and flashed yourself on their sensors. You didn’t have time to react to the missile. Even as good as you are, there’s no hope dodging or outrunning a missile in a pod. So, you died, and all that experience, gear, and renown was gone. One wrong move is all it takes, but don’t worry, there’s always a new you.
Heat Signature is a sci-fi game of infiltration and action by Suspicious Developments, and you really should be playing it rather than reading this review. You manage a team of high-priced, action-addicted contractors, picking one of them to get to work. With an agent ready to go, you pick a job, choose guns and gadgets, and head out into space.
Jobs play out in real time but lightning fast reflexes are not a requirement for success. Heat Signature was designed to be paused when your daring mercenary is in the thick of it. In fact, every cool move you ever make in this game will take place incrementally between pauses. Charge into a room full of guards (hi guys!) and fire your silenced quickfire shotgun into the pair of them on your left and pause the game. Activate your sidewinder to teleport to the other side of the room (surprise!) and then restart and pause the game again. Switch out your sidewinder for a rifle with armor-piercing ammo and plug the body-armored guard in the corner and start moving out of the way of any incoming gunfire, pause again. Use your shotgun to take out the remaining two guards in the room and restart the game to end the encounter.
Heat Signature isn’t all run-and-gun (or sneak and snipe) and features a cool overarching storyline that has you liberating space stations from their current, and far less deserving, owners. As you do, you’ll unlock new gear that’ll start showing up in the game (for purchase or as loot) which adds some nice persistent benefits. Liberating stations also hooks you up with new regular employers, and each will place a premium on things like stealth, leaving no witnesses, and using only non-lethal means. On top of all that, each character has a personal mission, the reason they got into the mercenary game, which are fun to explore.
Heat Signature is a perfect ten-to-thirty-minute game. That’s plenty of time to run a few missions, sneak onto some ships, make some badass moves, realize they weren’t the best moves, figure out better moves to fix those moves, earn some credits, and move on. If you’re looking for a game with fast-paced action but also the ability to think through your next steps like in a turn-based title, Heat Signature should be your next purchase.