Steelrising Xbox Series X Review

Steelrising's mechanics and presentation aren't polished enough to keep players engaged.

By Rayan, Posted 25 Sep 2022

Each year brings a slew of new titles to the soulslike genre, making it more difficult to keep up with all the releases that use these odd gameplay principles and making it no easy chore for developers to make their games stand out in a sea of competition. Ever since the renowned Japanese developer From Software shocked the world with the Soul series, the video game industry has strived to deliver a formula comparable to that of the From Software games. Sometimes we're presented with a concept that manages to give a wonderfully satisfying experience, but one that falls way short of the standard set by the titles like Dark Souls or Bloodborne. Steelrising is, in essence, a game with some degree of difficulty, much to the famous Souls series. You are obviously going to die a lot, but sadly, each time, it will be for one of the many wrong reasons. Not only was I uninspired by the plot, but the sloppy controls made what was already a challenging game seem impossible.


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Steelrising deviates from the typical style of a Spiders game. Instead of making a role-playing action game, the team dug into the Soulsborne model to investigate an alternate cyberpunk history of France after the French Revolution. Steelrising is a well-made effort at the genre, but it lacks the charm of games like Spider Entertainment. With its novel XVII-century scenario and an alternative version of the French Revolution, Steelrising, produced by French company Spiders, seemed like it may be a respectable to excellent Soulslike, but even in the beta from a few months ago, several difficulties were clear. However, given that the release was still a few months away, we remained hopeful that the developer would correct at least some of them. While Spiders does address some of the most obvious problems, the game ultimately falls short of becoming much more than an average entry.

This unusual experiment gives the impression that certain aspects were purposefully obscured. It's an imitation of Souls, but the idea of this one could be the most intriguing any of these other games have been thus far. The events of Steelrising take place in a revolutionary France, during which the inhabitants of the cities are forced into hiding by a ruthless mechanical army known as the Automatons. You, too, are a mechanical being. Your name is Aegis, and the person you defend is none other than Marie Antoinette. It is up to you, Aegis, to defend Paris from the Automaton army since you are the only machine capable of understanding people and speaking to them.


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In contrast to some other games in the genre, the narrative is conveyed in a manner that is simple to comprehend via the use of extended cutscenes, and the history of the game's universe is described through letters that can be discovered around the environment. Despite this, it was presented in such a dull, old-fashioned manner, and it was studded with characters who were so one-dimensional that after hours of playing, I didn't really feel like I gained much from it. Not by accident, even though the plot has the potential to be fascinating, it is only moderately so. The performances are lackluster, and traditional French words are used in the dialogue, even though the characters are speaking with English accents. The only bright side is that the setting fits very well with the action, and the engines are the perfect foes for a game like this because of how they interact with the player.

When you initially begin Steelrising, you have certain discretion in deciding how you want to go about playing the game choosing from Power, Agility and Alchemy build. Some character decorations are required, but your choices about your combat style have a far more significant bearing on the overall experience. The latter does not necessarily have to have a long-lasting impact. Steelrising has straightforward role-playing gameplay that lets you construct Aegis, and how you begin the game has little bearing on anything other than the very first upgrades you get and the weapons you have access to at the beginning of the game. You are at liberty to travel in any way that you see fit at this time. As soon as you go out into the open and take command of Aegis, one thing becomes abundantly clear: This is a game developed by French Spiders, which means that we get a game with a wonderful eye for aesthetic details, but gameplay that is a touch on the rigid side.


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Steelrising tries to accomplish the same goal with its own mechanical spin on the concept used in games like Souls. This spin consists of the ability to refresh your stamina meter by pressing a button at the appropriate time during the cooldown phase. If you press it too quickly, on the other hand, you will be prevented from doing any activities that deplete your stamina for a few seconds, which might be quite detrimental while you are engaged in a fight. The Automats in Steelrising are tireless machines, and this quick recovery mechanism allows the player to imitate that ability, as long as they can match the machine-like accuracy required to pull it off successfully. When the game is at its finest, Steelrising has you dashing between your enemies in a merciless symphony of death, stopping for just the briefest period to reset before hitting again. If you make a misstep, your momentum will suddenly stop, and you will probably die. This mechanism is ideal for enabling experienced players to get the most out of their fights by doing the greatest damage possible in the quickest amount of time.

Even while the actual combat itself might seem a little janky at times, the game is very engaging to play since it places a strong focus on fast-paced strikes and the usage of various tools and consumables. You have access to a wide variety of fighting techniques, including light and heavy strikes, dash attacks, leaping attacks, and special moves for each weapon. At some point in the game, you will discover a grapple, dash, and kick tool that can be used for both traversal and battle. The enemies have good animations, and the sound of metal hitting metal as you fight them is endlessly satisfying. On the other hand, they frequently have a very simplistic feel to them, and due to the relatively small number of unique enemies you will face over the course of your 20 hours of gameplay, they can become repetitive rather quickly.


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Every weapon has a unique ability that dramatically alters the way we have to play the game. Some weapons are imbued with various elements like fire, lightning, or ice via the use of magic. It becomes clear very early that ranged weapons are absolutely necessary. On the other hand, the loot drop is very diverse, even if most of the foes we will face along the journey will be robots. The bosses, however, never reach the degree of skill that a Bloodborne does, even if they offer an extra stress source. If you've played Dark Souls, the opening combat will seem familiar. Study the enemy's pattern and exploit their blind spots. This is particularly true for boss battles, the game's hardest challenges.

However, despite the fact that the fighting system has been accurately replicated, even down to the mechanism we discussed before, we don't get the impression that the same is being done with the enemies. In Dark Souls, we get the impression that our adversaries' assaults and their body language are perfectly synchronized with one another; however, in Steelrising, this is not always the scenario. There are some instances in which you will take damage from enemies whose attacks do not appear to be related to the movement of their bodies. One example is when enemies petrify themselves for a few seconds and then almost immediately attack you, leaving you no time to block or dodge their blows.


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It is also important to remember that while we will confront a significant number of final bosses, many may lack uniqueness, which should be taken into consideration. Even more so, at the beginning of the journey, you will get the impression that you will face the same type of automatons repeatedly. Even though this will change as the journey progresses, there is still a sense of repetition at times, even though this could be our thing. Finally, in terms of the gameplay, we would like to stress the little metroidvania aspect that the game has. This is because you will have the opportunity to gain artifacts that you can later use to access or unlock locations you could not reach in the first few hours of the game.

It's worth noting that this procedure is carried out in the dullest possible manner imaginable. It is not necessary to kill enemies to progress through the game. The prizes for slaying bosses and mini-bosses are so substantial that you don't need to fight any more monsters. On the other hand, you may be under the impression that to defeat the game's bosses; you need to have perfect timing and know how to appropriately utilize shields and spaces. If this is what you are under the impression, you are absolutely mistaken. Simply making it to one of the checkpoints in the game is sufficient. You're not obligated to trick your way through the game, but it's always good to know there's a simple solution for newcomers. Still, I hoped for a little more of the typical Soulslike precision, especially when venturing off the main path. Steelrising, it should be noted, also does not have a New Game Plus mode with more challenging enemies. We were also frustrated by the game's inability to rejoin the world once the game ended.


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When taking Steelrising as a whole, it becomes apparent that Spiders' first foray into the action-RPG genre is not exactly a revelation. It doesn't establish any new standards or accomplish anything particularly innovative within the Souls-like genre. However, it's enjoyable for short periods of time. In the midst of a lot of mediocre fluff, there are some amazing ideas and moments that have the ability to provoke visible emotions from you. But this quality is scattered throughout the game and didn't combine as expected. I'm hoping Spiders will return to the genre in the future, learning from their mistakes with the game and trying again. Steelrising's impressive visuals, unique scenario, and intriguing mechanical elements aren't quite enough to make up for the game's lackluster difficulty and lack of cohesion. An enjoyable and uplifting journey, although it pales in comparison to the genre's classics.

Steelrising is a flawed yet playable game with a few interesting ideas and a few interesting mechanics. The game's atmosphere and plot may have made it the Bloodborne-inspired Soulslike that fans of From Software's masterwork have been hoping for. Unfortunately, Spiders only managed to deliver an average game, and its problematic gameplay makes it hard to recommend even to enthusiasts of the genre. There are elements that may have made it a great RPG in the vein of Souls, but the game's mechanics and presentation aren't polished enough to keep players engaged.
 

Azfar Rayan (@AzfarRayan)
Editor, NoobFeed

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General Information

Steelrising

55/100

Platform(s): PC
Publisher(s): Nacon, BIGBEN INTERACTIVE
Developer(s): Spiders
Genres: Role-Playing
Themes: Role-Playing, Action, Adventure
Release Date: 2022-09-08

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