Standing out in a genre as saturated as the Soulslike genre is no easy feat, but Steelrising raises its steel to accomplish this challenge. And accomplish it does—Steelrising is one of the best Soulslikes to come out in recent years. Excellent combat, solid progression, and intuitive level design put Steelrising leagues above many of its peers.
In Steelrising, players control Aegis, an automat dancer-turned-bodyguard for infamous cake enjoyer Marie Antoinette. As Paris is besieged by her power-hungry husband-slash-king, Antoinette sends Aegis to be her eyes, ears, and exterminator in the streets, leading the resistance against the automat uprising. Not only does Aegis settle the conflict at large, but she also assists numerous allies in resolving personal issues to strengthen their resolve.
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Aegis’ background as a dancer is precisely why Steelrising’s combat exceeds offerings by its contemporaries. Her attacks are graceful and fluid, swapping from barrages of quick slashes to charged attacks that deal devastating damage and knockback. She can fight on the ground or in the air, nimbly avoid enemy attacks, and weave in her own. It’s appropriate to say that combat feels like ballet – every move is precise and rhythmic.
Aside from being beautiful to watch and fun to play, combat is also well-designed on the technical end. Dodging is responsive and hitboxes are accurate. Every weapon is unique and powerful, even those available at the start, and each changes the flow of combat to be faster or slower based on the player’s preference. Aegis never feels outclassed even by enemies six times her size. This gives the player a sense of progression as they master the skills needed to take down enemy automats.
Progression itself is also well designed. Players can power up Aegis by leveling six stats, all of which affect different aspects of combat. Power and Agility increase the power of her weapons and raise Impact and…