Lots of action, little frustration: With “steelrising”, Studio Spiders presents an exciting “Dark Souls” clone for new and old fans.
The criticism is all too well known: Souls games are too difficult, too capricious, too weird for the general public. The French studio Spiders has taken the criticism to heart and shows with “Steelrising” how to win new fans of the genre without diluting the gameplay and scaring away long-established Souls veterans.
The story leads to Paris in the year 1789. The French Revolution is raging in the city. King Louis XVII brutally attacks the insurgents with his automaton army while his wife Marie Antoinette is trapped in a castle. As a last resort, she sends her mechanical fighter, Aegis, on a secret mission to save herself and the revolution.
What’s happening? Thinking automatons? Gun-wielding fighting machines in the French Revolution? The development studio stages an idiosyncratic history lesson reminiscent of steampunk and Jules Verne. Where in reality crowds slaughtered each other, this is now just collateral damage. The actual fight is carried out with robots. While the scenario will cause historians to roll their eyes, it adds an original and visually stunning twist to the game.
“Steelrising” played (5 pictures)
The game principle is familiar to the fans from “Elden Ring” & Co.: Outdoing opponents, unlocking secret paths and collecting “souls”. Except that the souls here are called “anima essences” and the monsters aren’t nightmare creatures in the style of HP Lovecraft, but big and small steam engines. Aegis meets rolling giant knights, fire-breathing robotic spiders and robotic dogs. As in the big role models, the highlights at the end of a mission are the fights against titans.
The combat system should be familiar to fans. First, players choose one of four game classes from the sturdy bodyguard to the bomb-throwing alchemist. In a mix of close and long-distance combat, it is against the adversary. Look out, dodge, parry and strike at the right moment – everything as usual. Depending on the “impact” of the weapons, opponents can be stumbled. The effect of the elemental abilities of the weapons is completely new: ice freezes the opponents, fire causes constant damage. Later, Aegis learns leap attacks, which she uses to trigger similar effects, or to swing through the air and smash walls with hooks.
Well-known game principle with original details
Each victory yields Anima Essences, which Aegis exchanges for attribute points at Vestalia statues. Together with the raw materials found, she can also improve her weapons and buy oil bottles in the so-called “boutique” to refresh her “life points” or stock up on bombs.
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Although Aegis is also ambushed by machines, she always survives a few blows. When used correctly, elemental abilities and bombs are extremely powerful. Most of the time even big opponents go down after a few tries. That doesn’t mean that “Steelrising” is too easy, but unlike other Soulslikes, frustration rarely arises here. If you want, you can even turn on help at the start of the game to influence damage and stamina regeneration. Exemplary.
If you finally want to get a taste of one of the notorious soulslikes, “Steelrising” is the right choice. The scenario is original, but not as puzzling as Fromsoftware’s Souls originals. The level of difficulty also gives newcomers a chance thanks to the help mode, and there is also an unusual heroine with an exciting secret. From the story to the level design to the upgrade system, everything here seems well thought out and skillfully implemented. Can I have some more, please.
So it doesn’t bother that the individual sections differ little visually and the monsters don’t come across as nightmarish as in “Elden Ring”. “Steelrising” is one of the most successful souls-likes of recent years, which doesn’t need to hide from the supposedly overpowering role models.
“Steelrising” has been released for Windows, PS5, Xbox Series. USK from 16. It costs around €60. For our tryout, we played the Windows version for a couple of hours.