Steelrising Review (PS5): La Révolution

If you released a soulslike game in 2022, best of luck to you, as Elden Ring has pretty much set the gold standard as far as the genre is concerned and will likely win every Game of The Year title going when 2022 wraps up.

That said, there are still a few soulslike titles worth considering. This is where Steelrising enters the conversation as a AA title from developer Spiders and publisher NACON.

The premise of the game is an interesting one – with players taking on the role of an automaton maid called Aegis, who is tasked by Marie Antoinette to find out what is happening in Paris as a reimagined version of the French Revolution takes place.

If that were the plot of an upcoming manga or anime, it would sound pretty good, which is why our interest was piqued by Steelrising.

Having poured several hours into the game, here are our thoughts on this surprising soulslike that could prove a good break for any maidenless out there.

Bastille Day

For anyone who knows their French history, Steelrising puts forward an interesting premise, with Marie Antoinette seemingly being a champion for the people, as apposed to being a key part of the aristocracy of the time.

As such instead of storming the Bastille, playing as Aegis, you are in a way protecting it. It is therefore a nice way to subvert expectations early on. In the opening few stanzas of the game you have to make your way from Versailles to Paris, which is the epicentre of the revolution and where the biggest bosses lie in wait.

Before you are sent out by Antoinette, however, you have the option to customise the look of your automaton. In fact, while the design looks much like a robotic French maid, Aegis does remind us of a mix between Violet Evergarden and Gazelle from Kingsman.

You have a handful of options available to you, with the metallic look of Aegis’ arms, her hairstyle, complexion and makeup capable of being changed. There are more cosmetic items to be earned in the game, but from the outset it does not really move the bar in terms of options.

Once you have selected your look and play style – there are builds designed for speed and stringing together combinations, as well as options for stronger defence and the ability to carry heavy weapons or kitting your build out in plenty of gadgets.

We went the speed route, as it is our preferred option when building in general.

Like any good soulslike, stamina plays a key role in Steelrising. As does overheating (you are playing as a machine after all), so it is a careful balancing act in terms of when to attack and parry, as it all uses up stamina. The same goes for running and dodging, so it is the first in-game statistic we looked to upgrade.

Speaking of which, there is a fairly rich skill and weapon tree in Steelrising, so there is quite a bit to do in terms of perfecting your build. Much of this is done at vespers in-game, which also serve as checkpoints to save progress.

All in all then, Steelrising features all the necessary elements expected of a modern soulslike.

Glutton for punishment

Shifting to the gameplay and bosses encountered in the game and Steelrising delivers relatively solidly here too. Aegis’ movements are expectedly metronomic and mechanical, but there is a decent amount of agility to them too.

As such, you do not feel as encumbered as you are in games like Bloodborne. It is in fact a happy medium between Sekiro and Elden Ring, with players capable of grappling to higher ground and launching attacks on enemies below, along with having good freedom of movement during one-on-one encounters.

Taking on multiple enemies, however, is a different story and in general ill-advised.

This as the camera system for the game is not as smooth as we’d like. It means that you can get quickly outflanked by multiple enemies based on the camera not being well orientated.

Whether this is a gameplay mechanic is unclear, but it makes the early stages of the game rough going as Aegis is particular outgunned when taking on bosses alongside waves of less powerful automatons.

That said, if you are a glutton for punishment or pride yourself on patience, you can certainly find a lot to enjoy with Steelrising. In general though, distance is key and should you keep to that maxim while playing, you should be able to make your through.

We also need to praise the look of the environments. Paris in particular is impressive, and while not as expansive as The Lands Between of Elden Ring given this is a AA game, there is plenty to appreciate in terms of the visuals.

Final verdict

In a year when Elden Ring dominates all, both in the realm of soulslikes and other big titles, Steelrising could be one of those AA titles that gets lost in everything else.

As such, it will likely only appeal to fans of the genre, offering an interesting change of setting and aesthetic to what has come before. That said, the formula is unmistakable and should prove challenging enough for a few weeks of enjoyment as you complete the campaign.

While a few elements could be tightened up, the only thing holding Steelrising back is a deeper, richer world to explore. That and the fact that the console and PC pricing varies greatly, with the PS5 version costing R1 069 at the time of writing compared to a third of that price on Steam.

Muck like The Last of Us Part I, this could have benefited from a PS4 port too.


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