8 sadistic ways to take out guards in Heat Signature

Heat Signature Review

Heat Signature is from the creator of Gunpoint and one-time PC Gamer editor Tom Francis. It's a challenging sandbox stealth game that borrows ideas from Hotline Miami and Dishonored 2 to create something altogether special. Find out more in our review.

With a wacky array of gadgets at your disposal, infiltrating spaceships in Heat Signature is just as much about the how as it is the why. Sure, you can play things quiet and safe, picking off your targets one by one, but half of the fun is finding methods to kill guards and steal spaceships in the most absurd way possible. To help get those creative juices flowing, I've rounded up some of the my favorite methods—along with a few I've seen on Twitter—to help you turn your skullduggery into art.

The plumber's method 

Heat Signature can be brutally difficult. Ships are often populated with dozens of guards armed to the teeth waiting to put a bullet in you. But surprisingly, one of Heat Signature's weakest weapons can be the most effective. I'm talking about the humble wrench. On its own, a wrench isn't all that effective. While wielding one, you can dash several meters to strike your target, but wrenches have a long cooldown that makes attacking multiple guards impossible without another weapon. So, why not another wrench? In fact, why not bring five? As each wrench enters its cooldown after an attack, you can swap to a fresh one while paused and keep the whack-a-mole going. 

Stop shooting yourself

Swapper teleporters are a handy tool that let's you pull the old switch-a-roo on a guard. But if you combine them with Heat Signature's pause button, you can line up some pretty sadistic kills. Here's a gif of me pausing right after a guard opens fire and then swapping positions with them so that they're now squarely in the path of their own bullet. There's a metaphor here, I can feel it. 

If that's not sadistic enough for you, why not use the Swapper to switch places with an unsuspecting guard a split second after you break a window. They'll suddenly find themselves in a room undergoing rapid decompression and sucked out into the cold vacuum of space where they'll soon suffocate to death while you're comfortable and safe in the room they were just in. 

In and out 

Over on Twitter, Underscore_lord came up with an even more brilliant version of the classic Swapper trick. He ejects from his spaceship and launches himself through a broken window, landing in a room with a single armored guard. These baddies can only be killed by armor-piercing weapons, but Underscore_lord has a clever way to take him out without one. Just as the armored guard fires, Underscore_lord swaps places with him. The guard's own bullet hits him in the head, doing no damage but pushing him just far enough into the pressure field that he's suddenly sucked into space.

It's a move so brilliant that Heat Signature's creator, Tom Francis, has immortalized Underscore_lord in his own Steam trading card. 

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Confirmed kill 

Of course, any real assassin worth their salt would confirm the kill. That's why, during one of my missions, I took the liberty of shooting out the window and sucking both myself and my target into space. Then, as we hurdled hundreds of kilometers an hour through the cosmos, I whipped out my shotgun and finished him off personally. Lucky for me, I can always remote control my spaceship to come and scoop me up after so I don't suffer a similar fate. 

Turn those shields inside out 

Shielded guards are some of the hardest to kill in Heat Signature. Neither guns nor melee weapons can penetrate them, meaning players have to either find a way to disable them or avoid fighting a shielded guard entirely. But a better option is to subvert them. See, Subverters can open locked doors or make automated turrets friendly, but when used on a shielded guard, they effectively flip their shield inside out. Instead of being reflected, your bullets will pass through, and the guard's own shots will ricochet inside the shield, cutting them to pieces.

On Twitter, Adam Beardwood launches a Subverter Grenade at a group of four shielded guards. In hilariously comic fashion, they each try to shoot Adam only to have their own bullet ricochet inside their shield and murder them one after the other. It's beautiful.

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A not-so-subtle deflection 

Of course, guards aren't the only ones who can use shields. Emergency shields also reflect bullets and, when triggered at the last second, a group of guards will open fire and eviscerate themselves with the ricochets before they've even realized what's happened. You don't even need a weapon, you can just use their own shotguns against them. In this gif, one of the guards is even strapped with a killswitch that explodes when he dies, because why not? 

What goes around comes around 

Guards in Heat Signature will never directly kill your character. Instead, they'll always scoop up your unconscious body and toss you out of an airlock to suffocate to death. Any Heat Signature veteran is painfully aware of how frustrating this can be. So why not use their own strategy against them?

Normally, the windows on a ship take a good deal of force in order to break. But Cassidy realized you could use a Slipstream to slow time down and throw a guard's unconscious body at a window. Just as the slipstream wears off, the momentum of the thrown body increases exponentially, shattering the window and sending the guard flying off into the black to suffocate as so many guards have done to him before. Talk about karmic justice.

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Infiltration is for chumps 

Heat Signature's missions are intended to be completed by actually boarding a ship and killing the crew up close, but sometimes you're better off doing things from a distance. During one mission, I boarded and captured a random ship that was flying through the galaxy and used it to chase down my target. By firing my stolen ship's torpedoes, I was able to break a chunk off my target ship that had my assassination target trapped inside. As it hurtled wildly through space, I pulled up next to it, fired a salvo, and obliterated my target. Why risk my neck and get my hands dirty when I can complete my mission all from the safety of a cockpit? 

These are just some of my favorite assassination techniques I've picked up (and seen others share) while playing. If you've come up with your own devious ways of dispatching Heat Signature's pesky guards, hop into the comments section below and share them with us! 

Steven Messner

With over 7 years of experience with in-depth feature reporting, Steven's mission is to chronicle the fascinating ways that games intersect our lives. Whether it's colossal in-game wars in an MMO, or long-haul truckers who turn to games to protect them from the loneliness of the open road, Steven tries to unearth PC gaming's greatest untold stories. His love of PC gaming started extremely early. Without money to spend, he spent an entire day watching the progress bar on a 25mb download of the Heroes of Might and Magic 2 demo that he then played for at least a hundred hours. It was a good demo.