Steelrising Review thumbnail

Steelrising Review

A Parisian soulslike with robots

A.J. Maciejewski

Reviewed by playing a PS5 on ⚜️

Steelrising is also available for Xbox Series X

Steelrising is rated Mature by the ESRB

I always enjoy soulslikes that let you experience them however you wish and Steelrising is one such game and it's quite a blast, too.

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Steelrising screenshot 1
Aegis ponders if this would be a good fishing spot

History rewritten

Steelrising has you play as an automaton named Aegis whose mission is to save the French Revolution from the unfit King Louis XVI. As you can already tell, it's a silly premise that ties fantasy sci-fi elements in with actual history and although this is quite over-the-top on paper, the story that follows is rather inconsequential and falls flat in many ways. With that being said, if you want to play Steelrising for its story then you're in the wrong place so skip those boring and nonsensical cutscenes and let's get to the gameplay. v1d30chumz 44-210-77-106

A soulslike formula

As with many action RPGs of recent years, Steelrising follows a soulslike formula where you leave your souls (known as Anima Essence here) wherever you perish, consume a stamina bar with every action, attack with the shoulder buttons, and all that jazz. However, it does incorporate its own identity via fast-paced traversal and nifty gadgets such as grappling hooks that make exploring the elaborate stages a treat. That's right; Steelrising's campaign is divided into stages which represent various areas of Paris yet it feels like a Metroidvania because new abilities will let you discover extra areas so backtracking can be quite a rewarding endeavour. 😊

Steelrising screenshot 2
Well, that's reaffirming news

Gameplay freedom

Fighting enemies in Steelrising is where the gameplay shines brightest as it allows you to set up your character however you desire then fight enemies with your preferred weapons. Having recently played Thymesia which I didn't enjoy all that much due to the fact that it forces you to play in a very specific way, I appreciated the amount of freedom here a great deal. In fact, you can concoct some impressively overpowered builds if you tinker around enough and you know what? That's actually cool. I'd much rather have the freedom to do that than be needlessly restricted in the name of playing however the developers specifically want you to. 🙄

Plus, equipping primary and secondary weapons, stat-altering armour, quick-access items, and modules that offer boosts as well as levelling up core traits with Anima Essence and upgrading weapons with found materials makes for a very rewarding formula.

Power of the elements

Another aspect of Steelrising's gameplay that blew me away is its use of elements. Usually in soulslike games, elemental damage isn't all that crucial but here, it's downright essential. Not only do different elements cause their own damage, they also inflict status ailments such as how flame steadily decreases health, frost freezes the combatant in-place, and fulmination makes additional damage incur whenever the afflicted is attacked. You can also immobilize enemies which makes them open to a critical attack. Anyway, the elemental system is surprisingly deep and practical. For example, if you're engulfed in flames, you can deplete your stamina, deploy coolant to instantly restore your stamina, and that coolant will make your flame ailment deplete. How awesome is that? 😄

These elements are enhanced with elemental bombs that you can throw at enemies and doing so can be enough to turn the tides of battle. I'd even argue that a well-optimized quick-item menu is often all you need to succeed; even in the toughest boss battles.

Needs more oil

With all of that in mind, Steelrising is kind of rough around the edges to say the least. The most annoying part about it is the frequent inconsistencies. For example, a strong attack may stagger an enemy but later cause regular damage to that same enemy and some enemy attacks may hit you when you dodge while others may strike you. It's exceptionally difficult to predict at times which is a key component to combat so it becomes intermittently irritating. There are also odd glitches such as how Aegis sometimes walks very slowly for no apparent reason which caused me to perish on multiple occasions. Finally, dimly-lit areas are incredibly tough to navigate. Why can't they do what the Souls franchise does and shed a little light whenever you're in a dark corner? That would help immensely. 🤔

Steelrising screenshot 3
This bishop is about to be crucified

I enjoyed my time with Steelrising much more than I thought I would. Usually, soulslikes don't come anywhere near FromSoftware's games but this is impressively close with the exception of its copious amounts of weird bugs and inconsistencies.

  • + Solid combat with an emphasis on strategic use of items and elements
  • + Gameplay allows you to play as you want
  • + Rewarding upgrades and exploration
  • - Inconsistent occurrences can get frustrating
  • - Plenty of odd glitches throughout
  • - Dark areas are annoying to navigate
7.7 out of 10
Gameplay video for Steelrising thumbnail
Watch A.J. play Steelrising
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