Stellar Blade Review

Stellar Blade Review

Stellar Blade, the first AAA release by SHIFT UP, takes a new IP and blends it with inspiration from highly-acclaimed games like Nier: Automata and Bayonetta, just to name a few. Concocting a game full of inspiration from others can impact a game’s ability to find its own identity, and in this case, I feel like Stellar Blade passes the mark – just.

Stellar Blade Review

EVE is the sole survivor in the 7th Airborne Squad’s attempt to liberate Earth from the grotesque creatures called Naytiba. Saved by Adam and later joined by another survivor, Lily, the three head to the last city on Earth, Xion. From here, EVE makes it her mission to finish what her squad couldn’t – defeat the Naytiba and save Earth from human extinction.

The story of Stellar Blade could never fully grasp me. There would be pockets of narrative that had me captivated, but for the most part, I was just there to enjoy the ride and look at very, very beautiful people for 15 hours straight. The story wasn’t bad; it just failed to reel me in initially – a hurdle that a new IP can struggle to jump over. What astonished me, though, was the momentum shift in the third quarter of the game, which had me completely ensnared right until the credits rolled.

EVE diverges from your classic PlayStation protagonist in most aspects. She is incredibly well-designed on a surface level but lacks the relatability and vulnerability that characters like The Last of Us’ Ellie and Horizon’s Aloy share in their stories. Even after the credits rolled, I still felt like I barely got to know her as a character. I hope this is something explored deeper in a sequel (if that ever happens).

Stellar Blade Review

Download the Stellar Blade demo right now

Stellar Blade plays and feels like a PlayStation 2-era game, which I say in high regard. The core gameplay is predominantly an action-adventure game, with soulslike elements. If the difficulty spike in a soulslike game scares you, then a story mode option is available, which tones down the difficulty somewhat. Despite the shortfalls in the story, the overall gameplay and fantastic combat mechanics made up for it.

Requiring dodging and parrying to get through almost every encounter, Stellar Blade feels like a perfect combination of the soulslike genre and NieR: Automata. Eve’s main weapon is her sword, but gains a ranged weapon early on her quest to save Earth. I wasn’t too passionate about the ranged weapon, as the aiming felt a bit janky at times, which is especially awful when the game forces you to use the ranged weapon from time to time. An arsenal of abilities are able to be unlocked and enhanced via a skill tree throughout the game, which offers players a generous amount of freedom when it comes to how they approach combat. There are a few more combat mechanics, but *spoilers*

Stellar Blade Review

I didn’t expect to fall in love with the combat as hard as I did. It slaps. Each encounter is brimming with genuine excitement that I could not shake off. The movement of EVE throughout each encounter feels so fluid and finessed. 

The enemy design in Stellar Blade is stellar. Every boss enemy, in particular, was terrifyingly brilliant. As the bosses got more and more distinguished, so did the game. What felt like a game heavily inspired by another, projectiled into a game with its own identity, which can only be credited to the tremendous character design and world-building.

Stellar Blade Review

Shift Up makes a sheer spectacle of this barren, post-apocalyptic Earth. The game offers a handful of semi-open landscapes to explore, all of which contain linear dungeons related to the main story. These landscapes are exciting to explore until you are forced into a toxic relationship with the platforming mechanics. Jumping onto moving platforms is quite possibly the most difficult enemy you will encounter in this game. Jokes aside, the platforming is definitely the weakest element in Stellar Blade. It feels so stiff and lacks precision, which hampered my desire to explore this intriguing world that Shift Up has fabricated. 

The war between the humans and the Naytiba is prevalent during the exploration of each area. Human corpses pollute the environment, offering bite-size snippets of lore once examined. These can be notes of their last moments alive or codes to get into locked chests or doors. 

Camps, which offer a variety of services to EVE, are generously scattered across the map. You can rest at a camp, which fully replenishes your health and shield and revives any Naytiba you had previously killed. Camps also have shops to replenish supplies, consoles to upgrade EVE’s weapons and skills, and a payphone to fast travel. 

Stellar Blade Review

Xion, the last standing city on Earth, acts as the main hub between missions. The city itself isn’t that large, but there is a decent amount of side content to consume here. Side quests readily become available as the story progresses, which offer gold, and other rewards. I was pleasantly surprised by the side quests; they were really fun, and some were even quite moving.

EVE has a staggering 41 outfits that can be obtained through side quests and general exploration. These outfits are only cosmetic and don’t feature any stat buffs or effects. What CAN buff EVE’s stats are exospines and gear. Expospines and Gear can strengthen EVE by boosting her attack power and increasing her crit. rate, amongst other upgrades. Integrating your playstyle with the right expospines and gears can give you an edge in more difficult situations. You can also get EVE’s luscious, long hair styled in Xion. Yay! Hair physics!

Stellar Blade Review

Stellar Blade’s soundtrack is nothing short of amazing, definitely making the list of one of my favourite soundtracks of this decade so far. Many of the tracks have “pop girly” vocals, which really contribute to the overall aesthetic of EVE and Stellar Blade. It all works pleasantly well, and is not afraid to get melodramatic during boss fights. The inspiration from NieR is also evident in the music presented throughout the game, having shared a composer, so if you enjoyed that, you will no doubt enjoy this, too.

It is difficult these days to break into the AAA game space with success as a new IP. We are in an era where audiences want remakes, remasters, and sequels of games they’ve already played. I have no doubt that Stellar Blade will make a distinct impact. I genuinely enjoyed exploring a brand new world and hope to explore it even deeper one day.



Stellar Blade is more than just a pretty face. It’s a grand entrance to what could be PlayStation’s next hugely successful IP. What the game lacks in story is made up for by its exhilarating combat and entertaining gameplay. Whatever is next for the Stellar Blade universe, I will be there on day one.


  • A brilliant new IP with some fantastic potential
  • Unreal combat
  • Genuinely fun to play
  • Despite being set in a desolate Earth, it has some beautiful landscapes
  • Soundtrack is phenomenal


  • Story felt dull until the very end
  • Platforming could use some more refinement
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