Steelrising review: a creative Soulslike attempt that struggles to execute

“Steelrising has some lofty ambitions, but poor execution slays this potentially revolutionary Soulslike.”


  • Unique premise
  • Innovates on the Soulslike formula


  • Poorly executed story
  • Platforming feels terrible
  • Trivial AI
  • UI issues
  • Very buggy

With regards to developer Spiders, the studio has yet to land a success that matches its ambitions. Technomancer was largely viewed as a novel story tied saddled with poor gameplay and technical performance. Greedfall was a slight step up, but for essentially the most part, had the identical issues. While many are waiting to see if Greedfall 2 can iron out those technical issues and live as much as the BioWare RPG mold it looks to enhance on, Steelrising has bubbled its way up within the background. Its trajectory is identical story for Spiders, though.

This odd experiment feels almost intentionally left in the dead of night. It’s a Soulslike, but with perhaps essentially the most interesting premises any of those imitators have had yet. It is ready in 1789 in Paris during an alternate history where King Louis the XVI gained control over a military of automatons, quelling the revolution that might eventually result in his execution in our world. We play because the lone intelligent automaton searching for to stop his rampage.

I see potential in that premise, especially from a team whose prior games had little however the story to call great. The unlucky reality, nonetheless, is that for each good idea Steelrising has on paper, nearly none of them are realized in the ultimate product. Without that, uninspired gameplay and technical performance issues make this one other uneven release for a studio that’s all the time sitting on the verge of success.

The nugget of a very good story

Every part that interested me about Steelrising‘s plot and setting got here from pre-release material describing the sport moderately than the sport itself. The fundamental character, Aegis, is an Automat (the shorthand used for automaton on this universe) who’s charged with protecting Queen Marie Antoinette. Nonetheless, Aegis is different from other Automats in that, for reasons nobody seems to grasp but are painfully obvious very early on, she will speak and think for herself.

Aegis standing over a burning city.

That last point is stated but will not be shown, and that’s a standard thread in Steelrising. Aegis, for nearly the whole lot of the sport, never does anything of her own will. Her goals are all the time following orders without query, completely betraying what supposedly makes her different. You get some dialogue selections when talking to some characters, but these just amount to what order you should ask questions in. Only near the top of the sport are there any actual decisions to be made, but by then I had checked out of the narrative.

That’s due to how the story is delivered. Your primary mission is to seek out the person who created the Automats to attempt to discover a option to stop them, however the path to him is a drawn-out series of sidetracks. After I didn’t find him at the primary location, I learned about someone who might know where he’s. They knew of another person who’s a friend of somebody who might know. This process repeats itself, introducing so many characters for such a temporary time, that it’s hard to maintain track of all of them.

Every part that interested me about Steelrising‘s plot and setting got here from pre-release material.

The forged is made up of historical figures and major players within the French Revolution and prior knowledge of them is required to essentially get the sport’s impact. I used to be definitely willing to find out about these figures and their importance, however the pace at which the sport introduces them before tossing in much more names to learn only serves to muddy the plot. Successful alternate history games corresponding to Wolfenstein: The Recent Order introduce key historical players, with no need a history lesson to grasp what’s happening. Steelrising struggles to nail that balance.

Falling wanting innovation

Soulslikes can get away with an obfuscated or poor story as long as the gameplay, enemies, and executives are compelling enough, and Steelrising tries its hardest to carve out a small foothold in that space. The fundamentals are ripped right from some other game of the genre; you could have a light-weight and heavy attack, Bloodborne-style dash, and item bar. It does bring one neat wrinkle in an lively reload in your stamina where you may hit a button as a second meter drains to revive that much stamina straight away. So as to add some risk, you’ll suffer some Frost damage for doing so.

Frost, in addition to Flame and Electricity, are the sport’s three attack elements but are too easily exploitable. Some weapons can apply them to every hit, and all have to be built up on an enemy or Aegis before they take effect — either freezing in place, causing burning damage over time, or taking extra damage via shock. While some enemies and executives are proof against a few of these kind of than others, none are immune. Which means I could, and did, use a ranged Frost weapon to freeze a dangerous boss, get in near do my melee weapon’s special attack a few times, then back off to repeat the method with zero danger. I could’ve beaten every enemy and boss in the sport this fashion if I wanted since there was no downside and ammo is plentiful.

Steelrising does try to make some key strides forward for the Soulslike genre.

Aside from the fundamental bosses, there’s really no must cheese normal encounters. The enemy AI seems like it’s from the 18th century in how stiff and stilted it’s. At first, I used to be making mistakes because I wasn’t expecting it to be so slow — in the identical way as playing a Guitar Hero game on easy after playing on hard becomes difficult to regulate to. In almost every scenario the enemy will spot you, rush in, pause, line up for an attack, after which begin their animation. Once I found out this pattern and stopped playing reactively, no enemy posed much threat. Even running away is dead easy since they simply can’t follow you up or down any ledge (and even struggle with stairs at times).

Steelrising does try to make some key strides forward for the Soulslike genre, making some quality-of-life adjustments that some want out of FromSoftware games. Take the Assist Mode options, as an example. These help you set how much damage enemies deal between 0% and 100%, whether you drop your XP on death, how briskly your stamina recovers, and a simple stamina cooling mode. While not essentially the most expansive list by any means, I’ll all the time welcome more options to make it easier for people to experience a game they otherwise couldn’t, especially when there are not any other difficulty modes to pick from. The difficulty with that is that the sport punishes you for using these assists by disabling certain Trophies once you turn them on, implying that these assists should not the “right” option to play.

The sport does have a really detailed journal, compiling all types of knowledge corresponding to a quest log plus details on all of the characters. It also has a compass item you may placed on your quick-select bar that can display objective markers in your screen for that zone until you swap to your healing oil or one other item. These are precisely the kinds of compromises many wished even the mighty Elden Ring had, though I can’t give them complete credit due to how tiny the journal’s text is and for the incontrovertible fact that the compass’ waypoints often bugged out and lead me to random points on the option to my objective.

That compass, when functional, isn’t really needed unless you stop for a day or two while going through considered one of the zones. Unlike a FromSoftware Souls game, the degrees of Steelrising are straightforward and never visually distinct. There have been never any landmarks or vistas I could orient myself around, and even admire much. You could have dilapidated streets, hedge gardens, and a couple of interior types for the vast majority of the sport. At any time when there was a side quest I couldn’t track or an optional area I gained the flexibility to access later, I had no way of recalling where or how one can get there because of how almost no zone had any distinct quality or personality. Every level is sort of completely flat, and nearly every shortcut is a locked gate just a couple of feet from each checkpoint.

Navigation didn’t feel right upothe n first touch, like Aegis was riding a unicycle. She feels far more responsive in combat, but otherwise, I all the time felt like making precise movements was a roll of the dice. That’s further complicated by some platforming elements that killed me more often than bosses did. You do learn three latest moves to navigate — a grappling hook that brings you to set points within the environment, an airdash, and a kick that breaks down very specific partitions and gates — but none of them drastically change how moving through the world feels. In truth, the air dash makes the already difficult platforming even trickier.

Spiders and bugs

I didn’t expect a buggy experience, as I only encountered one small glitch where a personality’s voice lines were cut off apart from the ultimate word of their sentence in my first couple of hours. Nonetheless, things only got progressively worse the more I played. Aegis would seem floating a couple of feet off the bottom in cutscenes, enemies I killed would spring back to their idle standing animation as soon as they fell, they usually even occasionally glitched through floors or partitions when hit.

In case you’ve played a game by Spiders, Steelrising is identical story.

Even those, in the event that they were rare, wouldn’t be too bad. What can’t be missed are the times when the frame rate tanked for no discernible reason, even completely freezing for five or more seconds at a time and convincing me the sport had crashed before grinding out one other frame or two. This happened about every hour towards the second half of the sport, and while it did clear itself up after one or two minutes, made the sport unplayable during that point.

I discovered myself stuck within the menu at one point, watching helplessly as an enemy I didn’t notice patrolled by, spotted me, and got a free attack in before the sport finally read my inputs to exit the menu. One other instance occurred where a prompt to talk to an NPC hiding in a constructing, who might’ve had a quest for all I do know, simply fell through the world (I assume the model the prompt was tied to glitched through the ground and the prompt fell with it). Perhaps the worst, though, got here in the course of the penultimate boss battle. After bringing the boss all the way down to lower than 10% health, it did a rolling move and easily clipped through the world wall and wouldn’t come back, forcing me to quit and begin your complete fight over.

Aegis blocking an attack.

In case you’ve played a game by Spiders, Steelrising is identical story. It’s a game with lofty ambitions, aiming to compete with the perfect within the genre, but ultimately lacking the resources and polish to drag it off. I love a studio stretching to push beyond its perceived ability, but working inside limitations is crucial. If it is a path Spiders is actually committed to taking, I hope it might find its footing in its next project. The studio has a great deal of promise with its RPG experience and its ability to put solid groundwork for motion combat. But Steelrising feels more like a prototype than what the studio is actually able to.

Steelrising was reviewed on PS5.

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