A wave of Souls-like games has swept over gaming in recent years, and it is not without good reason. Challenging players to master different systems, setting up encounters with difficult enemies that ramp up the intensity, and immersing players in different settings and worlds, such games are always worth checking out. And now, with Spiders and Nacon‘s Steelrising, we are getting a distinctly French-flavoured version of a Souls-like.
The layer of European charm and the backdrop of the French Revolution definitely allow Steelrising to stand tall on its own. When it comes to a narrative, you don’t need much more reason to get into the fight as Aegis, a female automaton, and overthrow the merciless and bloody reign of Louis XVI and restore Paris to its shining glory.
Of course, other automatons favoured by the king do not share your deposition, and combat is inevitable. Perhaps owing to their mechanical nature, the encounters with a variety of machines require patience and a measured approach. These things hit hard and fast, and any mistake can be swiftly punished. Similar to its contemporaries like Elden Ring, it is best that players never overcommit in Steelrising, and make the most of windows of opportunities to turn the tide.
Depending on player preference, Aegis can take on the role of several classes, such as the tank-like Bodyguard, the nimble Dancer, the all-rounder Soldier, or the status-inflicting Alchemist. The choice of Dancer allowed us to move around the environments swiftly, cutting down enemies with armoured fans, and blocking and dodging to avoid damage.
Players are not restricted to default equipment either, with up to nine types of weapons that can be wielded, including ranged ones, each consisting of various moves, timing, and stamina requirements, all key parts of a Souls-like experience.
The opposition comes in all shapes and sizes, from normal machines that function as guards, slithery kinds that blow fire, to huge, hulking automatons that can crush you in an instant, it is clear that the developers are going all out to carve out an identity for Steelrising with a pretty memorable bestiary.
However, for those that like to explore more of the themes and narrative of the game, you need not be scared off by combat. Spiders has helpfully included a robust Assist Mode in the game, providing a multitude of options to tweak the gameplay to your liking, and giving players choices to enjoy the game how they like. Reduced damage, no loss of XP when dying, or better stamina regeneration will make a world of difference in Steelrising, all at the cost of some achievements.
The increased freedom of movement found in Steelrising makes Aegis quite a joy to control, although it can feel a little bit loose at times. It also helps that environments are quite a sight to marvel at, bringing plenty of colour and character to the French settings. There are even platforming sections to overcome, which is a nice addition to things.
As things stand, Steelrising is an intriguing adventure that boasts a theme and narrative that have not been tapped before. If Spiders is able to nail the combat and continue to deliver breathtaking visuals as seen in this preview, then the fight for Paris will be one more players will be keen to take up.
Steelrising is launching on 8 September for PS5, Xbox Series X|S, and PC.