There are a ton of great old-school action games recently and Steel Assault is one of the best but it's a bit short so let's hop to it.
Steel Assault has you play as a soldier named Taro Takahashi in a post-apocalyptic nation where he must take down its ruthless leader. The fact that it's set in a futuristic America is pretty cool and its stages will have you travel to a fiery forest and even New York City as you fend off hordes of robotic foes. It all feels like a long-lost 16-bit gem that you would show off to your friends back in the day.
The gameplay merely involves running, jumping, and performing an electric melee attack that may have a little range to it upon picking up a certain power-up. What makes Steel Assault unique is that it has a zipline button which allows you to extend a rope between 2 surfaces after aiming it in 1 of 8 directions. Sometimes, you'll use this to ascend a column as you jump while quickly deploying ropes at each leap and on other occasions, you'll use it to cross gaps or perhaps reach an out of the way power-up box. I would compare this mechanic to something in another game but quite honestly, it handles so uniquely that I haven't seen anything exactly like it before.
All of this comes together in one jam-packed campaign that's full of action and memorable scenarios. There's also a bit of variety splashed in such as via turrets that you can man and an annoying waterfall that you have to quickly ascend as pesky enemies get in your way. On top of this, there are a handful of cool boss fights that can be challenging to master. Heck, even the sub-bosses are awesome! 😆
Of course, I must mention how incredible Steel Assault looks. Its graphics are super-detailed and pixel-perfect to make for one memorable adventure as you traverse the unique environments and take on all sorts of intricately-designed adversaries. Plus, the music is fantastic and I noticed many similarities with musical themes from the Mega Man X series so I'd say it's obvious that the composer took notes from the 16-bit era before creating Steel Assault's soundtrack. On top of that, the sound effects are spot-on and very satisfying indeed.
Now, my biggest issue with Steel Assault is that I finished it in about half an hour and now that I've done so, I don't really have much incentive to play through it again. The only replay value is via changing the difficulty setting and there's arcade mode which will be super-tough to complete. Considering there are no collectibles, upgrades, unlockables, or anything; it has to be the shortest game of the year. Another oversight is that it's single-player only. Think about how fun Contra is with a friend. Why not include that here? 🤔
Steel Assault is an incredible retro-inspired game but unfortunately, its credits will roll once you really start vibing with its action-packed campaign. It's a prime example of how sometimes; great gameplay alone isn't quite enough.
- + Action-intense gameplay within a jam-packed and somewhat varied campaign
- + Stunning 2D visuals and great audio
- + Very cool zipline mechanic
- - Can be completed in about half an hour
- - Almost no replay incentives
- - Could use co-op multiplayer