Steelrising is an action RPG developed by Spiders and published by Nacon. While Steelrising wears its Soulslike inspirations on its sleeve, it still manages to stand on its own. It’s a fast-paced and challenging combat game with expansive and impressive stages, though people who struggled through Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice and Elden Ring will find it an easier game to complete.
Steelrising is set during the French Revolution in an alternate timeline, where the king has crushed all resistance in Paris, thanks to an army of clockwork automata created by the engineer Vaucanson. The streets of Paris have fallen silent, save for the scavengers feeding on the bodies and the footsteps of the machines that patrol the cobblestones. The player takes on the role of Vaucanson’s greatest creation, Aegis, a machine originally designed to be a dancer, but who now acts as Marie-Antoinette’s bodyguard. Aegis is dispatched to Paris in search of information regarding the royal family, and she quickly becomes the last hope of the dying revolution, as she is the only one with the power to face the strongest of Vaucanson’s other creations in battle.
Steelrising is a Soulslike action game with a world that is broken into distinct levels. The game only has a single fast travel point in each level, but this is alleviated by the fact that Aegis is constantly unlocking shortcuts through each stage. There are also Metroidvania elements present in Steelrising, as Aegis unlocks different traversal upgrades, in the form of a grappling hook, an air dash, and a battering ram, which also makes it easier to explore the stages, especially when completing sidequests. These gadgets can also be used to unlock new routes and find secrets when going on return trips through old levels, ensuring that backtracking is rarely boring. The game has Dark Souls bonfire equivalents in the form of Vestals, which also act as shops, and as a place where the player can improve Aegis’ stats and upgrade her gear.
The combat is a huge part of Steelrising and it’s here where the game excels. Aegis can equip two weapons at once and switch between them with the press of a button. The game has over 40 weapon variations that appeal to different playstyles, such as fast claws with counterattack abilities, rifles that can inflict status effects, and fans that double as a shield. A lot of the weapons have special attacks that are tied to bullets, which are quickly depleted with use and gradually reload over the course of a fight so they can’t be spammed. Aegis is incredibly agile and can dash in and out of combat at the cost of stamina. Steelrising has a great mechanic when Aegis runs out of stamina, where the player can restore a chunk of their stamina with a well-timed button press, at the cost of taking frost damage. Aegis can have her stats improved, but there are also “Modules” that are found over the course of the game, which grants passive buffs and abilities. All of these options combined lead to a fast-paced battle system with lots of options for tailoring playstyle without feeling overwhelming.
Steelrising takes place in Paris as it looked in the 1700s, giving the entire game a vibe that is similar to Yharnam from Bloodborne, and Steelrising owes a lot in terms of its atmosphere and design to FromSoftware’s title. The streets of Paris might have been difficult to navigate were it not for the inclusion of the Compass item, which ensures that the player never becomes lost, and even helpfully shows the locations that are important to sidequests. In terms of story, the game owes more to the likes of Assassin’s Creed, assembling important figures from the period, such as General Lafayette and Robespierre, who must work together. The bulk of the story is told through flashback sequences, as Aegis has an ability to glimpse events that happened in the past. Aegis does encounter historical figures throughout the story and they are mostly tied to sidequests, with the player able to take sides in conflicts between them. The story in Steelrising is serviceable, though an appreciation of this particular period in history will definitely make it more appealing to the player.
Steelrising flips between combat and exploration, with large open spaces and tight city streets waiting to be searched. The stages in Steelrising have a lot of verticality, allowing for lots of avenues for exploration, even if the game does throw some frustrating invisible walls in the player’s way at times. This verticality is also present in combat, with Aegis able to jump around her foes. The automatons she faces tend to not be as agile, but they make up for it with long-ranged weapons and a greater reach. There are some fantastic enemy designs in Steelrising, especially among the bosses, but the game tends to fall into the Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity trap and reuses familiar foes, but with a different elemental type attached to their weapons.
One notable aspect of Steelrising is its difficulty. The developer included a number of accessibility options that can make the game easier, but the base game is already notably easier than FromSoftware’s later entries, especially for those who endured Elden Ring‘s worst excesses. It should also be noted that Steelrising lacks online multiplayer, so players will have to face every challenge alone.
Ultimately, Steelrising is a fantastic Soulslike game that offers a streamlined combat and exploration experience that’s always pushing the player forward. The combat is fast and fluid, with enemies that are challenging, but never feel unfair.
Steelrising will be released for PC. PS5, and Xbox Series X/S on September 8, 2022. Screen Rant was provided with a digital code for the PS5 version of the game for the purposes of this review.