Stellar Blade Preview

Upon booting up the demo, Stellar Blade opens in dramatic flair, as space ships are blown apart by hundreds of missiles firing up towards the stars, drop pods fire off from each ship as they hurtle towards a war-torn earth. Once you hit the ground, you are immediately thrust out from your safe confines and Eve makes her dramatic exit from the pod in all her exaggerated sexual and stylish glory.

The main objective of demos is to communicate to the player what its intentions are and to reinforce what type of game you will be playing. Developer Shift up has done this confidently within this short demo. From the gameplay, visuals, sounds, and music. Stellar Blade felt very much like I was playing an old school game from the 2000s era, it is intentionally gameplay driven, feels very much like an action adventure of those times. My key biggest takeaway from this brief moment with the game is that is that there is more to this game than meets the eye, this game is deep and it would be wise to not judge a book by its pretty cover.

I think the best way to describe this game is that its remarkably similar to Sekiro in some respects, blend in a little bit of the cult favourite Nier Automata, put them in a mixer with some action rpg archetypes and out comes Stellar Blade. Each battle set pieces are methodical and precisely paced akin to FromSoftware titles. You cannot simply just spam the light and heavy attacks, although you could, but why would you when you can dodge and parry to counter enemies, elevating the stakes in combat situations. These defensive mechanics reward you with stronger and special attacks that hit harder and add an extra layer to battles.

My biggest surprise about the game, from the outside looking in I was expecting it to be very action heavy like a DMC or Bayonetta. The gear change to a more precise and calculated approach to combat felt much more appealing. The attention to these mechanics adds extra layers of tension to each battle. Its purpose to this battle system is deep. I know I’ll use this word often but I think what we played is just but a tip of the iceberg. After replaying the demo on multiple occasions, it’s safe to say that there is so much to unpack.

We got the whole checklist of the standard in the action-RPG genre. Including a camp site that lets you purchase or sell items, an ability to rest and replenish your health, save your game, upgrade Eve, and play tracks with its amazing soundtrack. Upgrading Eve allows you to unlock new abilities to level up and expand her combat repertoire. Examples being that enemies will periodically have colour coded attacks that signify when you need to be ready to perform specific move sets, these can be unlocked via an extensive skill tree. There is also options to upgrade your armour and weapons, not just swords but guns as well which are unlocked in the demo through the boss battle.

Although the main draw for the game is Eve’s character model the action and combat, exploration was also equally impressive. Wandering off the beaten track often let me find something new and unique. It can be an item, an upgrade, a new enemy, a random chest. A door that needed a specific code which you also had to find. You can climb, run, and jump around to your hearts content, even swim underwater which was a surprising addition each begging you to explore. All this within the short amount of time, makes me think that we are in for a treat when the game drops April 26 .

I am hopeful there will be many areas offering a variety of locales to deeply explore. A world that is post-apocalyptic but not in overly depressing way. Its green, its machine, and mortar all mixed to create some unique areas. There was enough variety in the first area which shows great promise for what is to come. This originality also resonates with the enemies that litter around the world, some right around the corner as you explore trying to pre-emptively take you out. Each enemy had its own way to approach to combat that offers solutions as you learn the different mechanics.

The soundtrack is perfect! I know its only a few hours into it but after digging into the score and soundtrack, Keiichi Okabe who composed the music of Nier Automata, has also composed around 40% of Stellar Blade’s soundtrack. For those that haven’t heard his work in the Nier series, i highly recommend you play Automata as its quite possibly the best original soundtrack in the PS4 library.

There seems to be a big fan base brewing for Stellar Blade. Excitement for the game is reaching those that were on the fence, myself included. I went in with no expectation and have come out of it really excited and eager to play. Its hitting all the right notes of what will hopefully be a great game to play, the strong marketing push by Sony is also showing great promise, they must have a great deal of faith in their product. Awesome visuals, robust character progression, deep battle mechanics, Eve’s character model, and a banging soundtrack. Launch day can’t come soon enough!

Stellar Blade is available exclusively on PlayStation 5 on April 26. A demo is now available digitally on the PlayStation Store.

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