Published on April 25th, 2024 | by Andrew Paul

Stellar Blade Review

Stellar Blade Review Andrew Paul

Summary: Stellar Blade hits all the right gaming notes for Game of the Year!


Game of the Year?

Stellar Blade is finally here and if you thought the demo was exceptional, wait until you get your hands on the full game from developers Shift Up that like Babe Ruth who performed the famous “called shot” in the 1932 World Series, Shift Up do something similar as they point to Game of the Year! And yes, you heard me right, Stellar Blade is a thoroughly enjoyable title on the PlayStation 5 that features engaging gameplay driven by an equally charming narrative with a hero who resonates with you. Even though there are some old school gaming moments littered throughout Stellar Blade, it still meets and excels the criteria for a next-gen title that like the demo, had me immersed from the get-go.

Fun fact – Eve is based on South Koren model Shin Jae-eun who was the template for this kick-ass hero.

If you haven’t played the demo which is a small part of the retail version, the story behind Stellar Blade takes place in the distant future where humanity has lost Earth to the Naytiba. As a result, the survivors of mankind have fled to the stars but now they are making a calculated attack on these invaders. Cue in Eve, a member of the 7th Airborne Squad that with her team manages to make it to the planet but things go devastating wrong quickly. With her squad cut short by the Naytiba, this responsibility of freedom (and revenge) falls upon Eve and her unique set of skills as she explores the post-war city of Eidos-7 that is now infested by these deadly creatures.

So where has mankind been hiding? Unfortunately we got our collective asses handed to us on Earth and we fled to space in order to establish another colony but now it’s time for payback! Of course there are still remnants of humanity left on Earth who need our help and allies such as Adam will help lead us on the right path with his trusty drone – However nothing is what it seems in this post-apocalyptic universe and there are plenty of secrets to be uncovered as the plot for Stellar Blade unfolds.

As soon as the cinematic finishes at the start, the game throws you into the deep end and it’s either sink or swim. At its core, Stellar Blade is an action adventure from a third person perspective and as you progress so do the skills of Eve such as attack, survival and Beta to name a few. Given that, this game is action-packed and definitely feels like a Grade-B Blockbuster (but in a good way) as you familiarise with the controls and of course, the uber cool heroine Eve.

Compared to other games, Stellar Blade definitely has parallels to Bayonetta in that both protagonists are well, maximising their feminine charms with their body suits. Oh… add in similarities to NieR Automata as well! Supporting the character designs is renowned Korean artist Kim Hyung Tae (Blade & Soul) who creates the perfect badass and yes, Eve looks impressive, including her various nano suits that portray the femininity of our heroine as she attempts to reclaim this lost world through deadly force.

Also, if you think Stellar Blade is just another button masher, you will be sorely mistaken as there is a careful mix of strategy and not just with the bosses. To quote an overly used analogy, the best defence is a good offense and this is true with the combat in the game because blocks, parries and dodges are a must. Attacks include melee (including aerial) plus ranged attacks as Eve increases her weaponry as the game progresses.

Thankfully the player is well supported by the perfectly mapped controls on the DualSense which include X – Jump, Square – Quick Attack, Triangle – Strong Attack, O – Dodge/Sprint with the left stick for movement (including sprinting) and the right stick to control the camera, including lock. You also have L1 – Guard/Parry/Beta Skill, R1 – Burst Skill, L2 – Ranged Mode and finally R2 – Interact / Fire your secondary weapon. Like the demo, the first part of the game serves as a mini-tutorial before the Naytiba push you into the deep end.

“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle – Sun Tzu

If you are playing the game on anything other than “story”, it can be a brutal journey in terms of combat, especially the gigantic bosses that you face which will channel rage quit. More often than not, it is your error as you failed to block or dodge an attack. However if you want to add even more Dark Souls rage quit, don the skin suit for Eve and you lose the shield powers of the nano suits that makes the title even more challenging… so get used to dying, again and again. With that in mind the full version of the game has plenty of nano suits to find during your play.

Combat is quite diverse in Stellar Blade and Eve is like an acrobatic with her moves and deadly prowess with the blade as she takes on the various enemies of this universe, each with their strengths and weaknesses with the latter to be exploited. However Stellar Blade feels more grounded in its combat and is 200% more serious than Bayonetta. Other similarities would include Devil May Cry but with that said, Stellar Blade is its own game with its flawless combat.

There are also combinations, acrobatics and defence (counters, parries) to take into consideration when you are engaged with the enemy. As you defeat enemies in Stellar Blade, you are awarded points that allow you to purchase from various skill trees, including the aforementioned Beta skills. These beta skills can be equipped for Eve to access during combat and is unquestionably needed when you fight the boss battles. However in order to unleash one of these skills, you must fill your beta gauge through successful parrying and damage. As you guess, the combat can be quite brutal and thankfully there are checkpoints and healing items to be found along the way.

Further there is quite a bit of exploring to engage with, including “light” puzzles and using a special “Detective vision” which allows you to see the unseen. Crafting plays another key component in this game and allows players to upgrade their arsenal for Eve, however this can only be done in camp sites which are save points. Lastly, Stellar Blade is a game to be played without too many spoilers because there’s plenty of surprises for both Eve and the player to be discovered through your first play through.

Graphics & Audio

Graphically, the game is pure next-gen from its large open-worlds with its realistic post-apocalyptic alien invasion atmosphere. The developers make good use of its level design that really helps in creating this engaging yet at times, scary atmosphere. Characters such as Eve and her team are well modeled, including the diverse cast of thousands (or enemies) as you hack and slash your way to victory. You can also tweak the game for detail or frames per second, depending on your preference. Also, the title does support haptics and yes, the game works perfectly on the PlayStation Portal as well.

Audio is equally impressive and if you want to take the game to another level, you can use Tempest 3D to create a more immersive universe with its “surround sound”. Voice acting while a little cliched at times, suits the characters and universe well. Supporting the audio department are the various sounds of this broken planet from the background subtleties to the dead roars of some of the monstrous creatures that you face. Equally the soundtrack adds to the action and emotional cues of this game and in order to experience the audio on another level, headphones or earbuds are a must.

Final Thoughts?

If you’re undecided, go out and check the demo out for Stellar Blade but if you’re seeking a challenging yet rewarding third person action game, this title hits the mark and more than likely Game of the Year!

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