The soulslike genre is a pretty competitive genre to go for. There are a lot of hardcore players that want a challenge, but you also want to cater to the more casual demographic as well. There’s a balancing act to this, which a lot of developers don’t know how to do. Still, it seems Spiders is up for the challenge with Steelrising, their newest IP.
What Is Steelrising?
Steelrising is an open-world, medieval action role-playing game (RPG) set in 18th century Paris where the monarchy went a little bit cuckoo. It is created by Spiders, with Nacon as the publisher.
This upcoming game will be out on September 8, 2022, on PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X.
Ahead of its upcoming release, here’s all you need to know about the game Steelrising.
Steelrising is set in an alternate version of the late 18th century. Specifically, revolutionary France didn’t end well for the revolutionaries due to a sudden case of robot automata outbreak controlled by King Louis the XVI. Through this army, he destroyed the various revolutionaries trying to wrest control from the monarchy and plunged France into a state of dystopic existence.
The player controls Aegis, Queen Marie Antoinette’s automata bodyguard. The Queen isn’t the biggest fan of the King right now, given that their country is in a state of dystopic civil war. Automata roam the streets, terrorizing the citizens into compliance with the monarchy. France, and Paris specifically, isn’t a safe place to be in right now.
Thus, Queen Marie Antoinette tasks Aegis to look for her creator. With said creator’s help, the Queen hopes to end King Louis’ tyranny on France, stop the massacre of the people, and destroy the robot armies in Paris. All in all, a pretty swanky story for a game that’s 18th-century Cyberpunk with robot priests. With said robot priest on a giant ball with a throwable Bible in one hand, and a staff that can be set on fire in the other.
Steelrising takes its core gameplay loop from a particular branch of the gaming sphere. If you don’t know the Souls series at this point, you were probably living under a rock. The player fights enemies, gain currency, and if they die, they lose said currency but can get it back. If they die a second time, their currency would be lost forever. In addition to this, the game’s exploration is a bit vertical, with Aegis having the ability to air dash as well as a grappling hook to get to elevated places.
Aegis can also be upgraded with various items and materials to make her stronger. This can range from increasing how many times she can regenerate, how much damage she deals, her agility, and overall toughness. Still, the main draw of Steelrising is the unique take on the Souls formula where the player is an automaton fighting other automatons to save alternate France from King Louis XVI.
Combat and Movement
Combat-wise, the game hearkens back to souls games, only with additional robots and a lot of alchemy and guns. Aegis, being a robot automaton, can integrate various weaponry into her body. These range from battle fans, swords, hammers, alchemical guns, claws, halberds, and more. Each of these weapons also has a special function that gives a lot of utility to the particular weapon.
An example of this is the Armoured Fans. The description of the weapons stated that they have incredible cutting power due to razor-sharp edges. However, the two fans can also be used defensively. If the player’s played Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, they may see a Prosthetic Tool called the Loaded Umbrella. The Armoured Fans have a similar function to this. However, the shield mode can’t be used to parry attacks and deal posture damage to enemies. At least, on the gameplay trailer. We do know that there’s an invisible posture meter due to one of the boss fights shown in the trailer.
In that boss fight against The Bishop of the Cité, Aegis was able to whittle down the boss’ HP with repeated attacks. She danced around the boss, and eventually, the boss staggered, leaving him vulnerable to a critical strike. That’s just for the Armoured Fans, by the way. There are still other weapons that we haven’t talked about.
Other than this, though, the game’s overall combat is a bit on the stiff side. The gameplay trailer shows a lot of promise, but there are a lot of times when Aegis gets hit even though she shouldn’t be. It would be nice if there’s additional polish added to the game’s combat; they already have a good core, and hopefully, it’ll be improved in the coming months before the game releases.
Meanwhile, movement in Steelrising is pretty much made for vertical exploration. Aegis has some really good ways of navigating around the medieval dystopia that is Paris.
Character Creation and Customization
As of right now, there’s no indication that the player can change from a female Aegis to a male Aegis. Nor is there any indication of additional character customization. What we do have are various snazzy outfits that Aegis can wear to increase her defensive stats. Other than this, nothing about ways for players to customize Aegis cosmetically has been revealed by the developers.
Other than this, there seem to be several attributes that players can put points into. These attributes are Power, Durability, Agility, Vigour, Elemental Alchemy, and lastly, Engineering. Power, Durability, and Agility are pretty obvious, but Vigour, Elemental Alchemy, and Engineering are a bit more mysterious. It seems that Elemental Alchemy and Engineering would function similarly to Bloodtinge and Arcane from Bloodborne, or Faith and Intelligence on Dark Souls. However, there’s been no confirmation about this as of yet.
One of Steelrising’s main gimmicks is its vertical world, one where players need to use certain abilities to navigate. Paris right now is a smoldering shell of its former, magnificent self. There are dead people everywhere, automata roam the streets, roads and bridges are destroyed, and homes lie abandoned. It sells the whole “The king’s gone mad” aesthetic.
The entirety of Paris is the player’s world here, and there are a lot of places for them to explore and try to find secrets. From what was shown on the various gameplay trailers, Paris is divided into sections that Aegis can go to. Several in particular were prominently shown in the gameplay trailer. We’ll talk about those below:
The Factories are where a lot of the automata of King Louis XVI’s armies are made. Upon entering, the player will see a lot of automata parts scattered all over the place, particularly the inside of the factories. The cramped area inside the factories makes them ideal spots for ambushes by wily automata, so caution and a close eye are probably needed when navigating.
The Factories also seem to have several buildings in the area as well, with each of them having the possibility of juicy secrets or cool weapons. Who knows what lies inside, but if the player can navigate it, they might have the run of the place.
Next is the La Cité of Paris itself, which, as we’ve talked about, has seen better days. Constant warfare between the automata and the revolutionaries has turned the streets and buildings of Paris into a wreck. Navigating the roads and homes is a perilous endeavor for a normal person due to wandering automata. Anyone caught by the automata is usually killed, adding to the already high death toll.
This is also the place where the trailer showed one of the game’s bosses, The Bishop of the Cité. The bishop is a mechanical nightmare priest that has no place in any religious order or convention. We’ll talk more about this in the graphics section of the article though.
Saint-Cloud wasn’t showcased much during the gameplay trailer. However, we do know that Saint-Cloud is a pretty successful commune of Paris where a lot of wealthy people. Who knows what happened to them in current France, with all the automata running about and a mad king to boot.
Next on the list is graphics, which is where the game shines the most. In terms of the environment, it paints a grim picture. Paris is turned into a city of ruin, with wandering automata killing anything and anyone in their way. It’s pretty terrifying how much Paris degenerated from one of the greatest cities in Europe into a nightmarish war-torn shell of its former self.
The various automata enemies also look pretty interesting, as each of them has its unique designs and gimmicks. We still don’t know much about the various Automata, though. However, we did see a few things on the trailers. Like robot dogs, a robot bishop is one of the bosses, as well as several humanoid automata with various weaponry. That’s just on the trailers, though; the game’s Twitter has more automata designs for the people to look at. Specifically, there are two enemies in the game to highlight on these Twitter Posts.
The first one is a medusa inspired automaton with three pairs of limbs in addition to a snake tail. The bottom pair has the limbs end in sharp blades. The 2nd pair above it has chain darts, and the last pair has no weaponry but ends in hands, so it can probably use other weapons as well. Overall, a pretty intimidating design, and we don’t know if this automaton is a boss or a normal enemy yet.
Last but not least is the Flame Acolyte, which is a pretty gnarly automaton due to its design. Its humanoid automata, rusty and tall, kind of like a typical church sacristan. If said sacristan had giant censers on each hand that they use as flails. Long story short, the enemies on Steelrising look great visually.
Sadly, though, there are some things we need to talk about. Specifically, the performance of Steelrising’s gameplay trailer was shown on the PlayStation YouTube channel. Visually, Steelrising looks gorgeous. However, there are some points in the gameplay trailer where the game stutters a bit as if it’s not properly optimized for playing on a console.
Overall, it wouldn’t be a bad idea if Steelrising’s delayed until next year for additional buffing on performance. It could be a really good game, and there are a lot of things going for Steelrising, but as a man once said: “A delayed game is eventually good, but a rushed game is forever bad.”
Steelrising vs Similar Games
Now that we’ve talked about Steelrising, let’s talk about other games like it.
The first game on our list is Code Vein, an action RPG created by and released by Bandai Namco. Code Vein’s set in a post-apocalyptic world with vampires made out of a parasite surgically implanted on humans. Yep, that’s a thing, and yes, you’re playing as a vampire here. The main draw of the game is the fact that it showed its inspiration from Dark Souls on its sleeve, and it’s pretty proud of it to boot. A lot of people say that Code Vein is “Anime Dark Souls”, but it doesn’t do Code Vein justice. The game has a lot of things going for it that are unique to the game itself.
An example of this is the ability to regain Ichor in many ways. Ichor is used to do spells and abilities like on Dark Souls, and players can regain Ichor with various methods. Players can use Ichor Concentrate to regain a set amount, but they can also do this by actually attacking enemies. As an addition, they can also increase their current Ichor count by attacking using their Blood Veils. Overall, a really good system that incentivizes aggression, which is exactly what Code Vein is. Oh, and the fact that players can change their classes on the fly is great too.
Next on the list is Elden Ring, From Software’s latest game, and what a game it is. It’s pretty much their magnum opus, and a lot of the elements from previous Souls games are placed on this game alone. This ranges from their philosophy on lore, the tough bosses, and even the fact that even the lowliest enemies can beat the player’s ass if they’re not careful.
The game is also one of the best games From Software made from a visual standpoint. In terms of graphics, Elden Ring is stunning, with a lot of places that can elicit awe and some mind-numbing terror. The world looked as if it was full of life at one point, but current events caused it to become a fracture from its former self. It’s pretty humbling to see a lot of the ruined buildings and the wandering people who don’t have a home to call their own. At least, until your Tarnished character kills them for their runes.
Combine this with a diverse build variety. The fact that the world is immediately open to the player if they’re brave enough. And finally, memorable lines like “Unfortunately for you, you are Maidenless”? Well, you have a gem of a game. From Software knocked it out of the ballpark with Elden Ring, even though there are some flaws here and there (Looking at Rivers of Blood spammers). Nevertheless, still one of the best games to come out this year.
Last but not least is the Nioh Series created by Team Ninja. This has the player go to Japan after the events of the Sengoku Jidai. The player takes the role of William Adams, who went to Japan in pursuit of Edward Kelley, who stole his guardian spirit, Saoirse. The Nioh games are yet another series of games that took the Souls formula and made it their own. Nioh combines the usual Souls combat with a unique stance system as well as great bosses based on Japanese folklore.
Overall, the Nioh series is a gem of a game series, and it’s well worth the money. It’s a bit of a shame that it didn’t garner more praise though.
Is Steelrising Worth Waiting For?
Overall, Steelrising has a really interesting premise and the game’s world is interesting. “Louis XVI with an automata army” isn’t something you hear every day after all. However, the game does look like it needs additional polish before it can shine. Specifically, on the performance aspects as the gameplay trailer didn’t inspire a lot of faith in the gaming landscape for the game. The most interesting plot in the world won’t do jack if the core gameplay is bad after all.