The French studio Spiders sends you as a battle machine into a French revolution full of robo-warriors. This is already stylish, but does not yet run like a well-oiled machine.
The developers from Studio Spiders have a good knack for interesting scenarios. You don’t have to fear a run-of-the-mill shooter in World War II there. In The Technomancer (in the test) they sent you as a magically gifted warrior to Mars and in Greedfall (in the Redi-Rumble) they served up a colonialism fable crossed with fantasy instead of classic medieval fantasy. The strengths were in the story and style, while the game mechanics went hand in hand with rough edges. It is therefore all the more interesting that Spiders is now venturing into a genre in which the focus is heavily on mechanics: Soulslikes.
In Steelrising the French studio is now letting the puppets dance: the action RPG takes place in an alternative world in which the inventor Jacques de Vaucanson more than just the hook chain and the mechanical duck succeeded. Using alchemy, he created human-like automatons and mechanical animals. They were supposed to serve harmless purposes like gardening, but Louis XVI. had them converted into weapons and bloodily nipped the beginnings of the French Revolution in the bud. But you also play a machine in Steelrising: Aegis is Vaucanson’s greatest creation, as it can think, talk and, as it turns out, kick other machines’ butts.
Publisher Nacon provided GamersGlobal with a PC preview where I could freely explore the first two levels and face off against a big boss that appeared later in the game. Steelrising was stylish, albeit still out of round.
|At the beginning of the game, you customize the appearance of Aegis and choose a starting class.|
The automaton woman’s weapons
Aegis was conceived as a dancer but transformed into a living weapon to protect Queen Marie-Antoinette. The latter is under house arrest and can no longer stand the madness of the king. Aegis receives several orders from her. The automaton lady is tasked with investigating the death of the queen’s son, discovering the fate of the orphans in Marie-Antoinette’s care, and finally finding Vaucanson, who needs to know how to stop his machines. Along the way, Aegis will join the revolution and learn more about itself as a conscious automaton. So Spiders doesn’t seem to neglect their own core discipline story at Steelrising either. What irritated me in the introductory cutscene was the creative decision that Marie-Antoinette and her last lady-in-waiting spread out the exposition in dialogue form for minutes without Aegis even being shown standing in the background. Only at the end does the lady-in-waiting remember that there is a bodyguard after all and Aegis is called and reports for duty with a wonderfully neutral (but not monotonous) English voice output. You can also set her color at this point, which apparently changes the material her disguise is made of. One of the seven options looked like copper, another like gold, one color looked very much like ivory. There is also a selection of faces and white wigs, but the gender is predetermined.
Anyone ever after a game Dark Souls-Maart has played, who quickly finds his way in Steelrising. Light and Heavy Attacks chain into combos, while you can also chain Heavy Attacks or Chain Heavy (Charged) Attacks. There are also attacks from the jump or the sprint. If you slowly go behind enemies, you will kill standard cannon fodder with a stealth attack directly, but there is no critical attack in the back in the middle of a fight – but there is the possibility to stun enemies with many light attacks and a follow up with a critical hit.
When the stalking and weapon-wagging opponents hit, you better dodge, otherwise after your death you may get the anima (the soul equivalent) gained from enemies at the place of your death. Evasion is the default because shield and parry are only available as possible special abilities of an equipped weapon (you can always equip two and quickly switch between them by pressing the digicross). So I was able to block with muskets, while to my great delight I was able to counter the giant club of a mini-boss with the parry ability of two hand claws.
Other weapons like the icy batons are covered in frost with their ability while the cannon spear fires a bullet – the maneuvers assigned to each weapon are reminiscent of the weapon skills from Elden ring (in the test, grade 8.5). Already in the pre-release there was a nice range of weapons with varied move sets from double swords to a ball on a chain to steel fans. In the full version there should be over 40 weapons to discover.
|You defeat the first mid-boss between the corpses of the human guards that he and his kind replaced.|
Aegis stays cool
In general, fire, frost and lightning effects are very present in the combat system and a possible differentiation of Aegis is to increase the effectiveness of these debuffs in particular – which is reflected in the Alchemist, one of the four starting classes. But as with Dark Souls the classes seem more relevant to the initial stats and starting armament, so you can flexibly evolve Aegis in a different direction by leveling up at Vestal Checkpoints. With Vestal Virgins, you also level up weapons, upgrade slots for Perk Modules, and upgrade your Oil Burettes, which are the Estus equivalent. In addition, you can often find high-quality oil in the area or on dead enemies, which heals slowly over time, similar to the healing stones in Dark Souls 2.
Author: Hagen Gehritz (GamersGlobal)
Opinion: Hagen Gehritz
Although Steelrising is only released for PS5 and Xbox Series S|X in addition to the PC, the level of graphic detail is moderate. But the art design of the winding castle gardens and dark streets is all the more appealing. The lumbering and clumsy nature of the alchemy machines comes through nicely in the animations. Spiders shows well-known strengths here and presents a stylish, unusual setting. I also liked the enemy design, especially with the big boss of the pre-release. His fight, like the confrontations with intermediate bosses, was accompanied by atmospheric orchestral pieces. However: Already in the first area, a mini-boss in a slightly smaller format was reused as a regular opponent.
The question of whether the elements flow and precision, which are essential for a Soulslike, are present in the fights in Steelrising is particularly important. There are also subtleties, such as depending on the weapon, only certain attacks cause enemies to stumble. But in general, Steelrising still weakened in this aspect. The fights were fun, but the feedback for dealt and received hits was still too weak, attacks didn’t flow satisfactorily with every weapon and the controls were sometimes notchy. The action RPG still has to be readjusted. Steelrising has a lot of potential, but I have my doubts whether there will be enough time until the planned release in September for the necessary fine-tuning.
Preliminary pros & cons
- Fresh scenario
- Variety of weapons with their own movesets and special abilities
- Difficulty adjustment possible
- Hit feedback on mau
- Control not yet precise enough
- Moderate graphics quality
Steelrising uses colorful Soulsborne elements, offers an unused scenario, beautiful animations and variety of weapons. However, precision and hit feedback in particular are still too uneven for an action role-playing game.
- “Pre-Certification Version”