SteelRising is a title that embraces the Soulslike premise with a hint of Metroidvania, which draws on the influence of previously released titles, such as Bloodborne or Sekiro, which have made this one of the most passionate genres among gamers. Unfortunately, it’s not a genre that particularly seduces me, given its excessive difficulty that can lead to premature dropouts. However, this is not the case with SteelRising, as it is quite intuitive with its mechanics, presents a solid progression, intuitive level design and difficult but not excessive gameplay, which puts it in a great position as an entry point in this game genre.
Spiders, the studio responsible for the creation of this title, is known for creating unique and very immersive worlds, as was the case with GreedFall which, although it had some problems in terms of graphics, as well as mechanics, left its mark, not with a title, but with a saga that is currently in development and that is on its way to all platforms. In this case, the player will be able to rely on a fictional cyberpunk story from the 18th century and with readings or re-readings of French historical events à la Assassin’s Creed style, all this while keeping the player in touch with the difficult combat tradition of a Souls and the immersive lore which is divided in bits of information scattered all over the place.
The player plays the role of Aegis, an intelligent robot designed to be a ballerina, but in this case, she will have to fight other machines across a desolate France. In the midst of a civil war sparked by political and religious strife, Aegis is sent by the Queen, Marie Antoinette, to seek out important figures who can correct the course of events and lead the resistance against the robotic uprising. At the level of secondary missions, it is possible to help various allies of the movement in solving personal problems and thereby strengthening their ties.
The dancer’s traits are present in Aegies’s own contemporary style of combat, where the toned and fluid movements between normal, strong, and special attacks that leave enemies torn apart, play an important role in the combos that are intended to be applied. This is in fact one of the strengths that drove me to about 16/17 hours of play until the end of its story. I haven’t ventured into every nook and cranny, but I feel like I’ve winked at most of the streets, nor have I delved into all the side stories, but I’ve certainly had fun walking through wrecked and metal-filled neighborhoods in every corner.
Each weapon is unique and differentiates between a fast or more robust combat, indicated to the preferences of each player. In fact, this title is well balanced in the sense that you never feel a huge difference, between damage inflicted and received, on the character and enemies. There’s a sense of constant progression and exploration is a plus for the items that you can find.
It is possible to increase Aegis stats in a skill tree divided into 6 sections, between damage and defense aspects, such as durability and resistance against elemental damage (fire, ice, etc). Although without great depth, there is an attempt to give the player the possible tools to create combat classes or a different approach to the difficulties encountered in his adventure. In my case, I chose a build that consisted of agility demarcated by fast attacks, faster stamina recovery and the premise of not only applying damage, but inflicting damage that allows to stun enemies after filling the bar affects this debuff.
Also in terms of combat, the existence of grenades with different sources of damage sweetens the experience. Ice grenades are by far the strongest grenades in the game. It is still possible to apply electrical damage, normal explosion damage, or fire damage. Remember that fire with a fire enemy or ice with an ice enemy is not a good attack combination. Finally, it is still possible to give Aegies a kind of modular upgrade divided between 4 different modules that can be changed whenever you want. These can be seen as buffs or boosts.
The Metroidvania aspect I mentioned comes into play as the main story unfolds, as there are key areas that are blocked or inaccessible on a first pass. After the confrontation against specific Bosses, the equipment necessary to reach these zones are unlocked, thus extending the red carpet to exploration or if you just want to continue with the story. The level design is very well thought out and executed. There are several shortcuts that can be opened, thus facilitating movement between sections, as it is necessary to revisit locations frequently. Note that accessing the checkpoint, which is also the point of purchase and sale of equipment and items, makes enemies respawn.
There are some problems mainly with the jump mechanic, leaving a feeling of dissatisfaction somewhat noticeable, after a jump that goes completely to the side. Facial expressions are almost nil and the fact that there’s British indivious voicing French characters sounds a bit strange. It will not be points that leave a mark and that make it impossible to take advantage of everything that this title has to offer, even so, it is the least positive notes.
SteelRising delivers hours of fun for both fans of the genre and people in the same situation as me, with less experience. There’s a lot of juice to be squeezed, both because of new playthroughs, with new approaches in terms of builds, and for cases where just one playthrough is enough.
[This review is based on a retail build of the game for PS5 provided by Nacom]