Steelrising Hands-On Impressions
A preview of the French Revolution soulslike!
Well, starting out, I’d first like to mention the game’s Assist Mode. Perfect for those who may be new to this genre of tough-as-nails videogames, this mode allows you to tweak such settings as how much damage the player character takes, how quickly her stamina regenerates, and so on. It’s a small touch, but one that gives the game a much wider audience.
Onto the actual game itself. You play as Aegis, an advanced automaton stuck in the middle of the French Revolution in 1789, where the king has unleashed an army of automatons into the city to quell any and all uprisings. These mechanical monstrosities don’t play fair and are hunting down every man, woman, or child, so Aegis is tasked to find the scientist responsible for creating these murderous robots to figure out a way to shut them down for good. It’s far from the usual in-depth storytelling that Spiders is known for, but it does give a good bit of context as to why Aegis is doing what she’s doing.
Steelrising is a very unique-looking game, unlike anything I’ve come across before. This particular period of history combined with the clockwork automatons creates an interesting atmosphere that makes the world an intriguing one to explore. It’s a shame the graphics aren’t quite as impressive as the artistic design, and although it was nice to have three different options for frame rate, resolution, or graphical quality, I found that the higher frame rate was essential — especially when it’s so choppy on the other two options — for the tense combat situations.
Speaking of the combat, this is where the heart of Steelrising lies. If you’ve ever played games such as DARK SOULS or Elden Ring, you’ll feel instantly at home here. Although not quite as polished as FromSoftware’s titles, there is still plenty of nail-biting tension and edge-of-your-seat action to be found in Steelrising. Every weapon has a specific ability assigned to it, with the block mechanic only being available for certain weapons; I hope you like dodging! Light, heavy, and even chargeable attacks are your main tools for dealing damage; just be wary of using a charged move if you’re outnumbered, as these attacks cannot be cancelled into an evasive manoeuvre.
Whilst the game is split into levels, some of them feel like mini-labyrinths and will reward players who stray from the beaten path. You can of course just leave the path behind entirely, as the grapple mechanic will have you leaping from rooftop to rooftop like a robotic Spider-Man. Not only is this a fun way to traverse the world, it can also give you an advantage in surprise attacking enemies, or figuring out the lay of the land.
To sum up, Steelrising isn’t the next AAA soulslike that’s going to set the world on fire. It is, however, a competent first go for Spiders into the brutally challenging genre. If the thought of dying over and over doesn’t excite you though, just remember that the Assist Mode is an absolute game changer (literally).