So, another preview of a Souls-like. Same drill as it ever was. Run around an interconnected world while fighting baddies and using the essence they drop to purchase a paltry upgrade point for health, stamina, or whatever. This one has a bit of a pedigree, though! It’s called Steelrising, which is both generic and nondescript. What a winning combo. Spiders is a French developer that found acclaim for their previous game, Greedfall, which I reviewed. When I was offered the chance to preview their newest title, I jumped at it. But I didn’t realize it was a Souls-like, and I was chagrined when I went to check out this build.
Steelrising separates itself from other Souls-likes in a legitimately interesting way. Games in the genre are almost always set in some fantasy or sci-fi world, filled with dead things, decay, etc. This one, however, is set after a failed, alternate history French Revolution. In this different reality, robots existed in the 18th century somehow, and a very not-dead Louis XVI has stopped the revolution with the power of his robot army. His wife, Marie Antoinette stays in the palace, unable to leave. But she has a robot of her own!
Her robot has a very human face and can talk. Her name is Aegis, and the also very not-dead queen sends her on a mission across France to… Okay, I don’t actually remember what her mission is. But the king’s bad robots attack our good robot on sight, and, yeah, you know how this goes. You then take Aegis, who is absolutely not anything like the very similarly named and designed Persona robot, Aigis. They’re different. Aegis has an E instead of two I’s! She has a mohawk and a wheelchair! Completely immune to legal recourse!
Steelrising is quite lovely. It’s refreshing to run around in the light of day in a game like this amidst all of the historical French architecture and geography, with sun-soaked pathways peeking through the brush, carriages, and murderous robots. Okay, that last one doesn’t quite fit. You can equip Aegis with any weapons you happen to find, which are quite variable, and each has its own special move. Some allow you to have a shield on hand, others have attacks. My favorite weapons are the claws, which allow you to parry attacks and subsequently knock enemies on their robot keisters.
Combat is pretty much what you expect but with lighter weapons, and not every attacks don’t break enemy poise. Most of the time, you’ll need to land successive hits to do so. This leads to a lot of waiting for an easily-dodged attack to end, only to move in, get a single hit, and then back off. Pretty standard for the genre, I suppose. The weapons are mostly entertaining to use, though, especially with some of Aegis’ animations. The dual swords have some very fancy-looking moves, and their special attack is this graceful whirlwind of swings that sees Aegis spinning in a circle.
Naturally, different weapons scale with power or agility, plus you’ll be running back and forth to deposit your essence at the not-bonfires. In case this all sounds fascinating, but you don’t feel like partaking in the usual Souls shenanigans, there’s an assist mode that lets you do multiple things, like turning off essence dropping upon death and a modifier that allows you to massively reduce the damage enemies do. Steelrising is one of the entries that everybody will be able to play, which I think is a good thing. While I’m not too big on the genre, Spiders is doing some interesting work with Steelrising, even if I wish it had a different name. I’ve always wanted to dress a robot up in 18th-century French battle garb. Okay, not really.
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