Fast combat and French rarity make Steelrising a unique Soulslike

gif: Spiders / Nacon / Kotaku

The genre has been on my mind a lot since I had the opportunity to get down to business with a preliminary version of rise steel, the upcoming souls-like action RPG from French developer Spiders. In this infectiously popular and notoriously challenging take on the genre, Spiders hopes to send us to an alternate timeline of Paris during the French Revolution. But instead of fighting human soldiers, we are up against deadly automatons or “automatons”.

You’ll take on the role of Aegis, an automaton once built to dance, but now repurposed and tasked with finding the Queen’s children in the midst of a deadly revolution, while searching for secrets about her own origins. You will engage in brutal battles with other automatons, gaining experience, “anima”, to level up your stats while finding new weapons in the environment. If you die, you leave the anima where she is, and if you die again, you will lose her forever. She is like a soul; You already know what to do.

Here are my heretical credentials for even daring to talk about a soulslike: the only one of these games I’ve ever finished was Deck13’s. the surge; the sci-fi aesthetic just speaks more to me than fantasy (especially the well-worn cultural ruts of medieval fantasy—yawn). I have played with dark souls 3 in frustration, as I have done with blood borne. elden ring was the first soullike apart from the surge which I really enjoyed, and that’s mainly because it gave me more to do than just walk down death rows to find ways to link those corridors through doors so I could skip the suffering and move on to more suffering.

Based on an early preview of a beta version of the game, rise steel it’s set to be, for me at least, one of the best experiences I’ve ever had, if only because I can pause it and not have to worry about online invasions from infinitely better players. There’s also the awesome inclusion of “Assist Mode”, which allows you to adjust the amount of damage you take, as well as a few other parameters. I was told that this mode comes at the cost of not being able to get certain achievements.

That sounds like a fair deal that preserves the challenge the developers envision while also respecting players’ time and skill levels. I’m a woman with a full-time job and a multitude of hobbies, so while I respect the challenge of a straight soul, unless the aesthetic really appeals to me or, like elden ringthe pacing is a bit different, getting tired of dying over and over again is more than likely going to make me step away from the screen to tackle a modular synthesis project or try to read that Pynchon novel again or something, anything.

I’m not sure if rise steel it will win over die-hard fans, who I imagine have discerning tastes in what pushes the bar set by successful, niche games. I can tell you that in my first few moments with assist mode off, I sure felt like a soulslike because it was frustrating me, and it was a familiar frustration, maybe a little more frustrating than I’ve found in other soulslikes.

These enemies hit and hit hard. Also, when they are in groups, I find them much more dangerous than in a FromSoft. souls game, especially since it feels like you have to hold down the right analog stick to change your lock target instead of being able to move it. On top of this, I feel like the game wants me to hold pressure faster than I might be used to in this genre, which is a bit of a challenge when your stamina meter drops, in my opinion, much faster than it probably should. .

The design of the weapon rise steel is a standout feature.
gif: Spiders / Nacon / Kotaku

But rise steel it differs in that I, the player, the owner of the stupid box I’m playing on, can tell the game to fuck off and not hit me for so much damage. Or any damage. I own this world now.

While such a power trip is entertaining in its own right, it allowed me to understand the pace of the game a bit more. I was able to go from deadly skirmishes with screeching metal fans to something more akin to combat. Most of the time when you get hit it’s pretty obvious, so turning off the damage (you still take fall damage and certain types of elemental damage, though) allowed me to jump in and learn both my enemies’ moves and my own. without the frustration. to die over and over again. That was what flipped the switch from frustration to fun for me.

Being able to stop the damage and get back up after each hit allowed me to better learn my enemies’ movements and anticipate their attacks. Scaling the damage from zero allows you to tone down the learning curve of the experience and serves as a kind of difficulty selection that you can do yourself. I also got a better handle on my movements, learning the most effective times to enter and moan. It really helped me decide which weapons I wanted to use more of and learn rise steelThe nuances without so much frustration. I can make the game meet me where I am, as opposed to the other way around.

I focused on two weapons at all times. First it was some really badass chainfire weaponry that allowed me to keep some distance from enemies with fancy attacks and hit the ground for a thin but effective fire AoE. The second was a “shield musket” that dealt slightly more damage than blood borne firearms and could freeze enemies to allow me to move in for a finishing blow. As its name implies, it featured a magical (?) shield that I could deploy if enemies tried to thwart my efforts to keep them at a distance.

Firearms seem to fit into a good category of support weaponry in rise steel.
gif: Spiders / Nacon / Kotaku

If I were to compare this to one of the souls games, seems to sit somewhere in the sekiro side of things, especially since you can jump and use a grappling hook to get up to higher areas above the Parisian streets. That works well enough so far. Mechanical automatons and 18th-century settings help it stand out from a souls clone in ways the game’s combat might not. It’s a unique vibe. Mix a pinch of something like assassin’s Creed through the historical fiction side of the story and you’ll have an idea of ​​what to expect.

The narrative hits like that of a more traditional action RPG than something out of FromSoftware. For one, it doesn’t seem to be that cryptic. You also gain access to a consumable compass that turns objective markers on or off. While I appreciate the austerity of, say, elden ring By allowing me to explore the world without those things, I liked having some more traditional HUD elements here because it was able to keep me focused and get more directly into the story beats.

This early preview build was a bit more lacking in story than I was expecting, especially as I think the story and aesthetics are going to be what really make this game unique. I’m hoping it’s just because this was simply a preview of something more far-reaching. I’m interested in Aegis’s interactions with humans, as she herself is an automaton fighting other automatons. There is a great opportunity here to play with the standard “sensible robot” kind of environment. What is sensitivity in this world? Does Aegis feel an affinity for the fellow automata of hers that she is killing?

The demo left me with questions I want to see answered. If previous Spiders games are anything to go by, particularly the technomancerI’m also looking forward to some fun twists and unexpected plot reveals to explore.

Aegis walks through a room decorated with statues of animal-like automatons.

The combat could pull Dark soulsbut rise steelThe environment of remains unique.
Screenshot: Spiders / Nacon / Kotaku

While this initial preview was described as a beta version, performance and visuals need to improve substantially for final release. My favorite part of the Spiders games is usually their environmental design, which in previous games sings with artistic flair and ambition. But until now rise steel exhibits an overall monotony that I hope will be polished to a more pleasing sheen in the final version. I’m also hoping for better audio balance, as there’s a great soundtrack that’s sadly buried under the often raucous clang of combat.

The acting is also noteworthy. While I think a stable and fast frame rate is probably best for this genre in general, rise steel it has a more substantial need for a stable and reliably fast frame rate. Like I said before, it sounds like he wants it to be a bit faster than most soulslikes, so much so that I wonder how this game could have turned out if he’d borrowed it. Devil can crythe action of instead of Dark souls‘. Speculation aside, there’s a good vibe to the character’s movements. Like mechanical automatons, everyone moves with a stiff, calculated, slightly disconcerting rhythm that reminds me of the original. terminator The film meets the bounty hunter droid in the first season of the mandalorian.

When the frame rate drops, as it regularly did at more or less high settings in 4K on a machine with an RTX 3070 in the tank, that animation job just doesn’t sit right and looks worse than it really is. This has a cascading effect of making the game feel a bit more difficult than it should as it all feels wrong and doesn’t quite sell the interesting concept of mechanical automatons fighting with stiff, deadly blows in the midst of the sounds of the gears.

rise steel lands on September 8 of this year for PC, PS5 and Xbox Series consoles. No PS4 or Xbox One release is planned. Occupying a genre that has a clear leader and plenty of would-be competitors, time will tell if the full, polished experience will help this one stand out.

See also  Which game was played the most in 2021? The winner is a horror hit