Many souls-like games have graced the genre over the years and attempted to rival 2009’s Demon’s Souls, considered by many to be the progenitor of the genre. From development studio Spiders, Steelrising is another one of those games that comes out swinging, hoping to take at least a few Automats down with it.
Steelrising takes place during the French Revolution in an alternate history where King Louis XVI has brought in powerful robots (the aforementioned Automats) to reign hell in Paris. You play as Aegis, an elegant marionette-style female robot turned warrior, and take on Louis XVI’s army of mechanized monsters. While Steelrising hits the mark in some areas, it drastically misses the mark in others. Considering the developers have little experience in creating souls-like games, this is to be expected.
A twisted French Revolution
The main aspect of Steelrising that sets it apart from other games in the genre is the unique 18th-century France setting. Roaming the streets of Paris and fighting off Automats that are reminiscent of clockwork machines of the time period makes for a strange, but exciting experience. Each of the enemies, while similar in style, ranges from chain-ball-wielding iron maiden robots to automatons with cannons for arms and great aim. While I am a veteran of souls-like games, I was not prepared for some of the enemies I encountered. They gave me a run for my money but never felt so challenging that I couldn’t beat them with some well-timed attacks and a little planning.
Aegis is more than a robot —she is a fighting machine, and true to that style, she must be outfitted with weapons and armor that match your playstyle. I started the game with steel fans that hit rapidly but felt awkward. After around 5 to 6 hours of gameplay, I upgraded my arsenal to a pistol that dealt frost damage, and a ball and chain that could explode in a radius of flames. While I chose to stick primarily with these weapons, there were plenty more that I found and tested that each felt unique and had amazing abilities that are worth looking into for a second playthrough.
Basic but not bad
I could easily convey Steelrising as a decent souls-like game with a few issues, but doing that is like describing each and every souls-like game from Lords of the Fallen to Thymesia. Steelrising does have something in common with the rest of the souls-like games, which is that it doesn’t do enough to set itself apart from the rest of them. The game has a unique style and setting, but there aren’t any mechanics or story elements that set it apart from the next game on the list.
The character creator only has a few options, which is disappointing when you are used to long lists of options or built-in sliders that let you warp the face to your own specifications. The maps, while expansive, are very linear and don’t give you enough room to explore. For someone who likes to view every nook and cranny of an area, I felt I could easily run through places without looking back too much, except for when I ran into a destructible wall. While the combat is exciting, never breaks free of the basic Souls formula with a slight bit of wonkiness. Each movement made by Aegis seems to lag or twitch, and the combat doesn’t feel as smooth when you are attempting to dodge or strike an opponent.
Steelrising is definitely a game that is worth checking out if you are a fan of the Souls games or want a new action RPG. While I haven’t made my way through the whole game, it is one that I plan on exploring more in the coming weeks. In its current state, Steelrising stands above other souls-like games on the list but falls short when compared to the kings of the genre. Despite its shortcomings, Steelrising is a great start from developers who don’t have a ton of experience in the souls-like genre.