Steelrising, Today we are going to talk about this newly launched video game, in this article we will give you some pros, some cons and some personal opinions regarding the game.
This one’s developed by Spiders, a French studio that’s been around for a while, and they’re mostly known for RPGs of, well, varying quality.
“Steelrising” is a Soulslike action RPG with a pretty interesting premise.
It’s set in the French Revolution, but with robots.
Now, we’ve seen this kind of thing before. I’m not gonna say that that’s unheard of, but instead of bashing on undead monsters and demons that you’re often fighting in a Soulslike game, you’re actually fighting an army of haywire what they’re calling Automats, which are rampaging through Paris.
Now, that’s enough to get us in the door. Pretty good premise.
I think pretty much any work of fiction with that premise, would probably get me in the door, and the fact that it’s a video game where you’re actually controlling it, I like that.
So getting beyond the premise, is there anything to get excited about here, or are we looking at yet another Souls clone to add to the pile of mediocre Souls clones? So let’s start with the basics.
Your character is Aegis, the queen’s bodyguard, who’s basically like if the Doll from “Bloodborne” said, “I’m doing it myself.”
Steelrising Review: Character Customization
At the start of the game, you’re given a few options for customizing your appearance and selecting your class, and to be just completely clear, it’s pretty much like with any other Souls game where your starting class isn’t that big of a deal.
You’ll be able to get all the starting weapons one way or another as you play the game, and you’re free to try out any weapon or level up your stats however you want.
Pretty much all the Soulslike standards are here.
There’s a dodge, there’s a light attack, a heavy attack, as well as a special ability for each weapon.
These can be simple things like blocking or counters, and they can be used for giving a weapon a status effect like fire.
So yeah, both blocking and parries are tied to weapons in this game, rather than just being one of your standard moves, so in general, aggressive play is emphasized, and not just because the block itself isn’t that good.
This game does have a stamina meter that drains when you attack or dodge, but there’s an additional mechanic called rapid cooling, where if you run out of stamina, you can quickly restore your stamina gauge by hitting triangle or Y.
It’s a nice, powerful tool that’s really useful for keeping the pressure on, but there is a drawback.
Every time you use it, you take a little bit of frost damage, and if you take too much of it, it can freeze you in place for a few seconds, and that can actually be a big detriment.
And speaking of elemental damage is actually a pretty big thing in this game.
There are only three main elements. There’s flame, frost, and fulmination.
Fulmination’s just lightning, just so you know, but at a certain point, the game seems like half the enemies you encounter are just gonna hit you with one of these effects.
The frost effect’s probably the most annoying when it actually hits you, but when you use it against enemies, it’s fantastic.
You freeze a guy in place.
You can just wail on ’em for as long as you want, or you can take a particularly annoying enemy out of the fight for a while.
So along with the standard attacks, there is a stealth attack, some air attacks, and some special modules you get from beating bosses, which are both useful for exploring the environment, and you can also use them as weapons in combat.
I mean, for lack of a better term, they basically function like a weapon.
Most of what you’re doing in these games is combat.
What are you gonna play a Souls-type game for if not that? And in “Steelrising,” let’s just say I don’t wanna say that it’s bad or mediocre even.
It’s good. But I don’t want to call it great, either.
Your attack animations are a little stiff, so certain moves feel like they’re a little too fast, and some kind of feel a little slow compared to what the animation suggests.
While doing the Steelrising review we figured out that Dodging is also annoying at times.
The invincibility window is really tight, so you really have to wait till the last moment if you want to avoid the enemy attacks that it’s useful against.
The hitbox feels off at times, so sometimes you’ll take damage when it looks like the enemy isn’t really doing anything to you.
Steelrising Review: Weapons
Now, what’s good, though, is the amount of variety that is on display here.
There’s a ton of weapons for you to use, and there are no restrictions or limits on what weapons you can use.
Then there are no stat requirements, you’re just free to use whatever you want because that’s the idea.
That’s what they want this game to be like.
And it works, in my opinion. Along with special moves like what I mentioned earlier, every weapon has its
own set of affinities, which is basically this game’s version of weapon scaling, which is really what’s going on to limit what weapons you use, because the difference between weapon A versus weapon F, it’s night and day.
And if you wanna know how the rest of this game plays, you’ve played “Dark Souls,” right? That’s it. You get it.
The Bonfires are called Vestals.
The Souls are Anima Essence. Estus Flasks are Oil Burettes, the list goes on.
Everything is standard equivalent and I’m not saying that to deride the game, I’m saying it because that’s how you understand this genre.
There’s exploration. There are locked gates to open from the other side to create shortcuts. There are big bosses to fight.
You know what’s in a “Dark Souls” game, the tropes are here, and they’re executed well enough.
I’m not, like I said, deriding them. There is actually a lot to explore, even though the setting’s a little limited.
Steelrising Review: Environment
It’s set in Revolution-era Paris, and the developers did try to add some variety to the places you go.
There are confusing back alleys in the city section, The Louvre has lavish interiors and elaborate gardens.
There’s a clear difference between these places.
You go to all the major revolutionary places in this game and then some also, and it seems like the developers put some effort into making these places historically accurate to some degree, which is cool but can make, for some locations, feel a little simplistic and empty compared to more fantastical locations in it.
So there are plenty of consumables to find, too, but obviously, the best stuff is the weapons and armor.
If you like playing dress-up in “Bloodborne,” then there is a lot to like in this game.
All your clothes have their own armor values with their own positives and negatives, but in gameplay terms, they don’t really matter a whole lot.
So you’re free to just put whatever you think looks cool on your character.
And for the most part, the places you go look good. Sometimes, things look just a little barren and empty, but for the most part, the areas are pretty dense and interesting.
The addition of a jump allows the game to have a little more verticality than these games usually have, which is welcome, and it is actually brought into the level design.
Sometimes, there’s a bit of a temptation to add the jump just for the sake of it.
It’s actually integrated fairly well here. Speaking of locations, the world this game is set in isn’t really a big, seamless world.
It’s split up into a few different areas you can freely travel between using the Horseless Carriage, that might seem a little limiting for a game like this, but each location’s filled with a lot of alternate routes and areas that can only be accessed using certain tools that you may not have yet, So they encourage a lot of backtracking, and I wouldn’t call it linear at all.
Once you get through the first two major areas, the game really opens up.
You can go in multiple different directions. And for the most part, I really like the progression in this game, but I do have a hang-up on it that I want to talk about.
Steelrising review: Enemies
It takes a really long time before you see a real boss. It can be two or three hours before you face off with one. Yeah, you’ll see a few mini bosses before then, but they’re kind of just souped-up regular enemies.
Souls games are kind of all about the bosses, but in this game, they’re really spaced out, and I feel like I’m kind of left wanting more which is better than too much, I guess, but same time, it’s noticeable.
You know what I mean? The fights themselves are very good. They’re aggressive. They switch things up. Battle actually progresses through different stages, usually.
They’ve got some really impressively weird designs, like this church robot that rolls in a ball and has a little animatronic priest on its head.
I will say they’re not particularly difficult. I only died with this guy because I used the wrong healing item at the wrong time.
But that doesn’t mean they’re not fun to fight.
I will say, on that note, this is a little bit kinder and gentler than you might expect a Souls game to be.
You can pause at any time, there’s a guide that’ll show you your next objective, and there’s even an assist mode that you can turn on that makes things even easier if you need it.
In general, as I said, the game’s probably on the easier side for one of these kinds of games.
You can still get killed if you’re not careful, but I haven’t seen the death screen that much, and I am not going to pretend that I am particularly good at these games.
I’m, not the first time through anyway.
When I know what to expect, usually, yeah, but like this, I kind of walked into, and I don’t know, maybe it’s that everything was very familiar in terms of mechanics, but it felt like I’d played it for a little bit longer before I had played it at all, if that makes sense.
Another thing that’s a little more user-friendly compared to other “Dark Souls”-type games is the story.
For once, it’s relatively understandable and clear what’s going on.
It’s told mostly through dialogue sequences and cutscenes, rather than notes and environmental storytelling, which can lend to a lot of mystery, but at the same time, it doesn’t make me annoyed to just have a sort of straightforward storytelling experience in this type of game.
I will say, it can be a little weird seeing real-life historical figures mingling with fantastical robots, but the story’s actually a lot more involved and rich than I assumed it would be.
The facial animations, you’ll probably notice that they’re not that great, but the story’s pretty interesting, particularly near the end.
I don’t know how much you’re going to get from it of you have only a vague knowledge of the French Revolution, though.
It really does a lot in terms of historical callbacks.
Basically, every character in the game is or was some actual real-life figure during the early days of the French Revolution.
Steelrising Review: Story
I’ll say what’s a little disappointing is that the story’s set before the Revolution got particularly nasty, which limits the horror aspects of the game a little bit, but it’s still very interesting for what it is.
I don’t know. You kind of, think French Revolution, and you think guillotines.
Maybe I just wanted to see more of ’em. I don’t know.
I’ll say the music and sound didn’t really stand out a whole lot for me.
There are some memorable tracks, and they’re usually the boss fights, and that music does build up and get more intense as the fight goes on.
And like I said a moment ago, the fights progress and the music matches that pretty well but there’s nothing that really stuck in my head that was particularly memorable.
I noted earlier that a lot of the environments look good, but visuals as a whole are a little bit more of a mixed bag. Some things look incredible, like Aegis.
They’re full of these really well-done little details, you know? And in general, your character’s animated pretty well.
The various robots you take on are all pretty interesting-looking, too.
There are standard ones that you would expect. There are also these snake-like ones, robo-dogs, machines that look like they’re kind of a marching band that are gonna attack you with their horn instrument.
They’re all pretty fantastical robots. But the environments are mostly realistic.
And like I said, there are sometimes some really nice dense, well-filled-out environments, and sometimes they’re a little, I don’t know, samey.
It can be hard to tell where you’re going, and sometimes it really feels like you’re going in circles ’cause you’ve just gone to like the hundredth Paris street that looks exactly the same.
On top of that, there are just frigging doors everywhere.
It’s Door City up in here, Which wouldn’t normally be that big of a deal, but when you’re constantly on the lookout for shortcut doors, it could be hard to tell which ones open and which ones don’t.
Some areas are visually varied and fun to explore, and others are, like I said, kind of boring, bland, even.
But you at least unlock abilities from beating bosses, and that opens the game up more and makes it more interesting to explore.
Enemy variety’s not the best, but it could also be a lot worse.
Certain enemies get multiple different versions, But at least they have their own unique attacks, which makes it not feel that repetitive.
So I think I’ve talked more than enough about all of the individual observations.
So to sum up, there’s a lot to like with this game.
The setting’s really cool, especially if you know more about the French Revolution.
And the main character Aegis is probably one of the most unique Soulslike protagonists, period.
You really have to give it to them on the design.
But everything else about this game I would say is just pretty good. I don’t think I would call it bad or even average or mediocre.
Steelrising Review: Conclusion
It’s above average, but it’s not amazing. I will say relatively bug-free, and I haven’t experienced any issues playing it on PlayStation 5, so that’s great, but also, in terms of mechanics, it really doesn’t stand out.
The combat is functional, Visuals are sometimes good, sometimes okay.
The story is a little more elaborate than I thought but also a little more linear than I thought, and I like it. I like progressing through it.
I like the style of storytelling, but it also, at times, takes a bit to get going and really doesn’t get particularly good until near the end, at least that’s my opinion.
Bosses are fun, but again, a little bit few and far between.
I think you might be able to see where I’m going with this.
This is a lot better of a game than I thought it would be, and I don’t want to deride it, because it’s very competent and at times brings new things to the table that make it worthwhile.
It’s just that none of those things are really mechanical, Which is ironic, given everything about the robot angle here.
It just doesn’t do enough to really distinguish itself in that way.
Now, if you love these kinds of games and you want more and you want a unique story with a unique protagonist that matters to you more than unique mechanics and its own special spin on the genre, I don’t think you can go wrong with “Steelrising.” It’s a solid game, but if you’re burnt out on Soulslikes, it’s probably not the place to go.
But it’s a good action game. Gotta give it that. That’s all for the Steelrising review. Leave us a comment. Let us know your review on Steelrising, what do you think about the game?
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