Stellar Blade Review | PlayStation 5

Stellar Blade might not be the game of the year 2024, but it's sure to be a decade-long sensation.

By Rayan, Posted 30 Apr 2024

The debut of SHIFT UP's maiden step into the console gaming industry, Stellar Blade, has finally arrived, and with it comes a lot of people who are curious about how things will compare when they take a look at it. This developer is well-known for their earlier work on the third-person shooter mobile game, Goddess of Victory: Nikke. Nevertheless, just like their past games, this new action role-playing game (RPG) offers a great deal of content to explore. The most crucial aspect of an action game is its feel, and SHIFT UP gets it right with Stellar Blade. And just like every PlayStation 5 exclusive, the game looks stunning as well.


Stellar Blade, Review, PS5, Gameplay, Screenshots, Eve, Sexy, Female Protagonist, NoobFeed
 

Stellar Blade's setting plays a significant role as the game has a unique premise, excellent world-building, and looming mysteries that keep you invested throughout the game, all of which make it an enjoyable experience. You take on the role of the protagonist, Eve, who is a member of an interplanetary colony that is summoned to Earth to eradicate an alleged alien invasion that nearly wiped out humanity. To accomplish your objective of wiping out this extraterrestrial race, you will venture to many locations, including ruins of towns, deserts, and even space stations. 

At an early point in the game, you will come to the last human city, which serves as a hub between missions. Here, you can talk to other players and find out how they're surviving in this perilous environment full of strange monsters. There are a lot of things that require your assistance, which will teach you more about people on Earth. However, in this city called Xion, you'll also uncover posters and notes that show that things aren't always what they appear to be.

I found myself hooked on the plot far more than I had anticipated. I did not anticipate some of the extremely nice twists that were included in the story. I was equally pleased to see that there were numerous endings to the game, each with a unique boss. I believe that is a risk that a relatively small number of developers are willing to take. Because not only will you encounter distinct endings, but also final bosses and scenarios.

It was great to see such a decision taken by SHIFT UP because many developers would have hesitated to take that risk. Moreover, you are essentially producing material that a significant portion of your player base would never have the opportunity to experience. Regardless, I believe it was a worthwhile investment here, and I found the experience to be quite enjoyable.


Stellar Blade, Review, PS5, Gameplay, Screenshots, Eve, Sexy, Female Protagonist, Outfit
 

Steller Blades's gameplay is clearly the most significant aspect, aside from the story and the game's gorgeous protagonist. In my opinion, SHIFT UP has nailed everything, particularly considering their relative inexperience in the console game industry. Steller Balde has a great blend of visually stunning combat, reminiscent of games like Bayonetta or Devil May Cry, with a high level of precision in your dodges and parries—which made me think of Sekiro—and an overall style that reminds me of God of War.

In my opinion, the developer's debut in the AAA gaming industry was quite impressive, and the game's seamless gameplay was a major plus. As an added bonus, the game features a surprising amount of gunplay, which isn't only a plot device that goes unnoticed. In several parts of the game, I had to rely solely on my weapons to take out faraway foes. It is pleasing to observe that these systems were integrated rather than isolated.

As the game progressed, I became more engaged with the game, but the main reason is that unlocking more and more for Eve makes the game more thrilling. If you've played the demo, you're probably familiar with Eve's basic light and heavy attacks and several of her active powers. You'll also notice that nearly every significant plot task you complete unlocks new skills. My favorite part is the basic double leap because it opens up so many new paths to explore around the world. 

It aids in solving various platforming problems and opens up new locations to explore. Since you obtain a gun with several types of ammunition early on, you are able to play complete ranged-only stages while simultaneously being able to hit enemies from a distance in combat. There are levels when you can't use your sword and must use your gun alone to traverse dark labyrinths; this makes you feel more powerless, which adds to the terror element of the games, and those missions are fun to play as well.


Stellar Blade, Review, PS5, Gameplay, Screenshots, Eve, Sexy, Female Protagonist, Boss Fight
 

Steller Blade's combat relies heavily on the precision of the parries and the timing of the dodges and in terms of combat in the game, these are definitely going to be the first things to be addressed. Initially, I felt the parrying mechanism was a bit tight and the timings seemed inaccurate. I even struggled to parry the smaller enemies, but after I acquired the parry upgrade; the parry timing started to feel right. Then again, I still had a hard time getting good parry timings versus very few enemies in the whole game.

But when you get things right, the ability to strike many parries, execute timings, and follow the rhythm of the combat is something I found quite entertaining, and this is one of the few games that allowed that, aside from Sekiro. The ideal dodge provides an alternate, equally valid approach for players who don't rely on parrying or who simply have trouble with timings. It's great that parries and dodges offer a variety of follow-up attacks. Some are more laser-focused on a single target, some cover a wide area, and some even move you so that you're behind the opponent. So, the playstyle can be adjusted quite a bit. 

Additionally, in terms of gameplay, the game offers a very robust combat system, complete with a variety of combos that can be chained together to deliver fatal strikes. and your damage output is directly proportional to the strength of your combo. One intriguing aspect of the battle flow in this game is that it resembles a turn-based system. Whereas, if you are attempting to run through a complete combo chain while simultaneously juggling someone, you will not be able to accomplish this feat unless you are utilizing specific mechanics. 

On the contrary, you may have to complete a three-hit combo before shifting to attempting to land dodges and parry as the enemy launches their attack. Once you've stunned them, you can unleash your combo again. By utilizing aspects like knockdowns and staggers, you can extend chain combos even farther, successfully immobilizing larger enemies, including bosses, for long durations. This is something that I thoroughly enjoyed when playing.


Stellar Blade, Review, PS5, Gameplay, Screenshots, Eve, Sexy, Female Protagonist, Gunplay
 

You will also be able to unlock a whole new set of active powers as you progress through the story, which will make combat even more exciting. It's quite amazing how all of the different combat features are tied to each other. You can avoid waiting for skills to cool down by building energy for one set of abilities through flawless dodging, while for another set, parrying frequently is key. The opposite is also true for me; there are games where I parry very rarely and frequently dodge, and vice versa. On the other hand, if you are keen on unleashing all of the strong attacks, the requires you to use all of these defensive tactics. 

Fortunately, the game's parry mechanism is among the best I've ever encountered. Blocking an assault at the perfect moment is an incredible feeling, made much better by the excellent audio and visual clues. Bosses in the game have gigantic bright weapons that make a distinct trill when they're going to attack, which is a brilliant move that allows you to easily anticipate their moves. In such a situation, you must parry an attack by pressing the block button. You can parry an unlimited number of incoming attacks because stamina is not an issue. So, even if you're not usually good at parrying, Stellar Blade will turn you into a fan, and you can increase the size of your parry and dodge windows with certain talents and gear.

The Stellar Blade has a pretty good foundation, which is why I wanted to have a positive view throughout the game. I found that I loved the game for the most part. One thing that stands out to me—and something that you might have noticed while playing the demo—is how incredible it feels to hit enemies in this game. plus, there are lots of superb boss fights, each with its distinct flair. Not only are Eve and the rest of the characters charming but there is also some unexpectedly enjoyable side content that will lead you to open-world places you might have missed otherwise. The framework is very similar to that of Star Wars Jedi Survivor, which is why I refer to it as open worlds, but it is rather open zones.

Whereas Stellar Blade shares some of the planets' extremely linear plot points and set pieces, which contribute to the game's grandiose adventure sense. To break up the monotony of those objectives, two open zones are teeming with enemies, loots, and side quests. The majority of the side missions in these two deserts only have one or two straightforward goals, which made it difficult to avoid becoming distracted. Therefore, these can be finished quickly. It was hard for me to resist the allure of the completion screens that appeared upon completing missions and claiming rewards. Additionally, these quests can take you to some incredible places and put you in some quite interesting situations.


Stellar Blade, Review, PS5, Gameplay, Screenshots, Eve, Sexy, Female Protagonist, NPC, Side Quests
 

However, following two more open zones in the desert and three massive linear stages, the game abruptly discards nearly all of my previous satisfaction in favor of a mad boss rush including combat ripped from Elden Ring. For the most part, the game strikes a good mix of being tough and without being frustrating. However, something doesn't add up when I easily kill most of the big bosses in just a couple of tries, and then all of a sudden, I get stuck in a fight for more than two hours. There are a few bosses in this game that I did not anticipate having so many combos that kill you instantaneously. So, the first few encounters with them nearly invariably result in death.

Every time you beat one of these bosses, another one appears a few minutes later, and so on. The difficulty level keeps going up in this manner. And just when you're engrossed with the game's void of exploration and set-piece moments, the game forces you into a loop that might last for hours depending on your skills. Even after switching from regular difficulty to story modes, I found these encounters—including one in particular—to be extremely challenging, so I don't know how someone who is simply looking to enjoy the main plot would fare. The point of this mode is to challenge players with more experience, although I doubt those without gaming skills will be able to win.

The economy is essentially non-existent, which is one of the main things that prevents this game from reaching its full potential. The game rewards you with a large amount of money, allowing you to purchase inexpensive consumables and ammunition at any point. On the other hand, there is nothing in the game that will actually demand a significant amount of money. But spending nearly all of my money on items to survive the last boss bouts was a complete shock to me since I had previously spent very little.

Furthermore, there are a great deal of additional resources that you have been stockpiling during the course of the game by completing missions and discovering every chest in every area, yet it all seems to be for nothing in the end. About halfway through, I had so as many of these resources as needed, but I couldn't think of anything worthwhile to do with them.


Stellar Blade, Review, PS5, Gameplay, Screenshots, Eve, Sexy, Female Protagonist, Boss Fight
 

One of the most notable screens in the game is the point of no return, which appears approximately halfway through the narrative and has a far more significant effect than the screens that appear in other games. Obviously, you won't go back to a save before you embark on that mission, and you can't perform any of the side quests thereafter either. Now, if you want to finish those tasks, the only way I can do so is by beginning a brand-new save game and then returning to that point in the story.

So, if you plan to complete 100% of the game, complete all the side missions before you step into the point of no-return phase. And in case you didn't, it will likely take you at least ten to twelve hours to get to that point again. And until the developers come up with NG+, your save after the point of no return is pretty much useless, as you'll still have to replay the entire game to unlock those optional tasks. I don't think it's crystal obvious enough how this option will affect the game, especially since there's only one save spot and there's a point of no return screen that you'll see when you reach there.

There are a few minor annoyances, such as the fact that you might only have one shot during certain puzzles or platforming sequences. Consequently, you will need to redo them, or you may be required to walk farther in order to replay bosses rather than immediately replaying them. Also, the game throws several minigames at you that are required to solve in order to progress through the narrative or to open the chest. However, I wasn't too bothered by them because the game wasn't long.

And I felt like the game was hurried towards its ending and it didn't quite deliver what I was hoping for. Even though I expected it to take much longer, I only spent thirty hours to complete the game. And I wished SHIFT UP had poured more into the game. Though you can still continue playing the game for several more hours, it won't be as much fun since you've already finished all the narratives. The only option to reply to the game would be to try out the different difficult modes.


Stellar Blade, Review, PS5, Gameplay, Screenshots, Eve, Sexy, Female Protagonist, Parry, Dodge
 

Steller Blade runs smoothly in Balanced mode, which is essentially an upscaled 4K setting that aims for 60 FPS. In several places, especially in the wide environment or during battles with a lot of particle effects, I could feel a slightly lower frame rate. However, in Balanced mode, you can expect a consistent 60. There are two more modes available in the game; one is Performance for 2K resolution with 60 FPS, and the other is Resolution, which aims for 4K with 30 FPS. Overall, I felt like I found a decent mix between the higher-quality visuals of 4K and the need for a consistently high frame rate—ideally closer to 60—in a game like this.

I thought the game did an excellent job with the graphics. The game's visuals are top-notch; Eve's attires are gorgeous; and the enemies are hideous, what with all their spikes, bones, and flesh. Despite how horrible it looked; I ended up enjoying the enemy design in battles. The music is fantastic all the way through, from the more subdued background music to the incredibly energetic boss battle soundtrack. The music remained good throughout, even after engaging in these battles repeatedly. I did not experience any glitches or issues in this game and it is quite close to the production quality that we have become accustomed to from PlayStation Studios.

Stellar Blade was so much fun to play. With the exception of Sekiro, this is arguably the first game in which the combat felt genuinely fantastic. I don't think many games manage to capture the pulse of battle the way this one does. To put it simply, I believe this will speak directly to you if you enjoy action games. One of the most important aspects is that this is a new IP by SHIFT UP, a firm that has not worked on a console game before.

Although mobile games are the mainstay of the Korean gaming industry, they went in a completely unexpected direction by offering something like this. Only a more seasoned AAA developer would have been more fitting for a game of this caliber. Not to mention that there are no microtransactions in the game even though SHIFT UP could easily include them for Eve's costumes. However, they have stated that in the future, if they decide to add new, it would be paid content.


Stellar Blade, Review, PS5, Gameplay, Screenshots, Eve, Sexy, Female Protagonist
 

In the end, even though there were some issues; those things weren't enough to detract from my liking of the game. I still believe that anyone who enjoys action RPGs will adore Stellar Blade. The story could use a bit of work in the end, but I nevertheless relished my experience with it since games like this usually never have a solid ending. SHIFT UP might have preserved some content for future DLCs, as the game felt a bit smaller than I had hoped for. Still, its action-packed gameplay makes up most of those areas, and the game's character designs are definitely outstanding. Stellar Blade might not be the game of the year 2024, but it's sure to be a decade-long sensation.
 

Azfar Rayan (@AzfarRayan)
Senior Editor, NoobFeed

comments powered by Disqus

NoobFeed

General Information

Stellar Blade

90/100

Platform(s): PS5
Publisher(s): Sony Interactive Entertainment
Developer(s): SHIFT UP Corporation
Genres: Action, Adventure
Themes: Fantasy, Role-Playing, Fighting, Soulslike
Release Date: 2024-04-24

View All

Popular Articles