Steelrising Review

Standing out in a genre as saturated as Souls is no easy feat, but Steelrising pulled out all the stops to meet the challenge. And do it – Rise of Steel is one of the best Souls to come out in recent years. Great combat, solid progression, and intuitive level design set Steelrising League above many of its peers.

In Steelrising, players control Aegis, a vending machine dancer turned bodyguard for notorious cake lover Marie Antoinette. When Paris is under siege by her power-hungry husband, the Slash King, Antoinette sends Aegis as her eyes, ears and exterminator on the streets to lead the resistance to a vending machine uprising. Aegis not only resolved the conflict as a whole, but also assisted numerous allies with personal issues to strengthen their resolve.

Aegis’ background as a dancer is why Steelrising’s combat transcends its contemporaries. Her attacks are graceful and fluid, shifting from a flurry of quick slashes to charged attacks that deal devastating damage and knockback. She can fight on the ground or in the air, flexibly dodges enemy attacks, and weaves herself. It can be said that combat is like ballet-every movement is precise and rhythmic.

Steelrising  Bishop  of  the  Cite In addition to being beautiful and fun, the combat is also well designed on the technical side. The dodge is responsive and the hitbox is accurate. Each weapon is unique and powerful, even those available at the start, and each weapon alters the flow of combat, making it faster or slower depending on the player’s preference. Even against enemies six times her size, Aegis never felt at a disadvantage. This gives players a sense of progression as they master the skills needed to take down enemy vending machines.

The progression itself is also well-crafted. Players can enhance Aegis by upgrading six stats, all of which affect different aspects of combat. Strength and Dexterity increase the power of her weapons and boost impact and immobilization respectively; Durability increases her health and balance; Elemental Alchemy increases her resistance to status resistances and her ability to inflict status resistances Abilities; Vitality increases her stamina and crit multiplier; and Engineering brings up various aspects, namely armor. These stats are broad enough to enable a variety of builds, but narrow enough not to feel overwhelming.

Aegis’ progression throughout the game is tangible. Aegis feels awkward to play at first, and she loses combos very easily. But as players enhance her abilities and weapons, she transforms into a deadly robotic hunter, dealing massive damage with every strike. Because progression is rapid and scales with increasingly stronger enemies, players will immediately notice them getting stronger and more sophisticated.

steelrising  stat  screen  progression Every upgrade unlocked by Aegis is useful; there is no wasted space in the progression system. Every stat has a use – armor provides many tangible effects (rocking Victorian fashion is always an advantage) and weapons become suitably powerful when upgraded. The module system provides a variety of benefits that can be swapped on the fly, allowing players to gain even more powerful boosts. No matter how powerful the enemy becomes, the player always feels capable against them. Each enemy will drop enough Anima Essence (in-game currency) to level up without farming and grinding.

What’s more, Aegis unlocks core abilities after defeating more difficult bosses known as Titans. These abilities are primarily used to access new areas of the map by increasing Aegis’ mobility. Players can dash through huge gaps in mid-air, knock down walls and fences with powerful kicks, and even climb tall buildings. Even better, these abilities are used in combat to apply alchemical status effects that immobilize enemies and weaken them to give them more opportunities to attack.

While the combat is excellent, the intuitive and thoughtful level design is also worth mentioning. While the scenery isn’t the most jaw-dropping since Ring of Eldon, it does enough to capture the atmosphere of besieged Paris, blending beautiful architecture with desolation. But the layout is where Steelrising really shines. There are plenty of nooks and crannies strewn with items, and they’re easy to find. Even without the game’s sole navigation tool, players shouldn’t struggle to find hidden sideways and major paths. The player’s instinct will guide them to the correct location every time.

steelrising  navigation  example  mobile  walkway Shortcuts are essential in Steelrising, as players will frequently revisit multiple locations. That’s the essence of Steelrising design. Don’t waste the player’s time. Everything in the game is designed to gradually reduce the amount of time spent traveling or fighting, creating a fast-paced experience that lets players move at their own pace.

Ironically, Steelrising’s main plot isn’t all that revolutionary. Aegis is a key figure in leading a group of displaced priests, scholars and artists who want to overthrow the corrupt king. Most of the characters are a bit one-dimensional, but that’s not a deal breaker. Plus, the story provides enough of a reason to explain the existence of every major boss and antagonist, so it’s fully functional.

As a vending machine, Aegis is emotionless, which means the player doesn’t experience award-winning performances every time she discusses the team’s next move. She does, however, have her own backstory, delving into how she came to be the way she is, including a surprise twist that shouldn’t be shocking but somehow is. The story isn’t memorable, but it’s still well acted and, like the main story, enough to give Aegis the momentum to keep going.

steelrising  aegis  crystal  story  example There are several small issues that plague Steelrising. Jumping can be a bit finicky, sometimes causing Aegis to get bogged down in otherwise innocuous level geometry or get stuck behind impenetrable meat stalls. There are a few places where the path forward isn’t always clear, mostly because of a breakable wall hidden somewhere that blends into the scenery. At some point, the game will throw large numbers of enemies into a space that’s too small for them, creating a chaotic and chaotic encounter. Enemies will attack immediately without waiting their turn, so these situations can become difficult.

However, these issues aren’t such a big deal in the grand scheme of things. Aegis has so many tools to deal with everything she fights, it’s almost impossible to lose. To make things easier, Steelrising has an assist mode designed for casual players looking for a Souls-like experience without the torture. Players can adjust stamina regeneration rates, reduce damage taken (or even completely negate damage from all enemies), and force Aegis to retain her anima essence upon death. While this mode does disable certain difficulty-related trophies, it opens the door for casual players to enjoy the experience without being pushed away by high difficulty.

Spider-Man has crafted a Souls-like experience in Steelrising, offering veteran fans of the genre and newcomers alike an entertaining and innovative experience that perfectly fits their playstyle. There’s a lot to love about Steelrising, and each playthrough will allow players to discover exciting new ways to fight the machines. Steelrising is a step in the right direction for the Soulslike genre.

Steelrising is available on PS5, Xbox Series X/S and PC. GameRant reviewed the PS5 version.

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