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From Fear to Fascination: My Journey With Steelrising’s Mechanical Marvels

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hello world!
Brandy Brown
| June 15, 2024
hello world!

I was nervous about playing Steelrising, which was released by developer Spiders in 2022. It is an action role-playing game, and the main character looks like a clockwork marionette. I have an abject fear of marionettes that I can pinpoint to one particular episode of the TV show Fringe. But unlike the soulless human marionette in that episode, once I started playing this stunning game, I realized Aegis has a soul, and she grew on me. 

Side by side shot of Aegis

Spiders created this game to be very soulslike, which was another reason I was reluctant to play. But the AMAZING thing they did for people that want to play their games but suck at soulslike (seriously…I suck hard) was to create a mode that lets you scale down the difficulty. Oh, was it a lifesaver! I am a massive fan of Spiders (the developer, not the arachnid), so the thought of being unable to play this game after my love affair with Greedfall was almost too much to bear. But I got through it! You can play four different class types. I tried the bodyguard first, but the weapons (hammer and large chains) were heavy and slow, and it didn’t feel suitable for my play style. I tried the dancer next. This was my build! She was agile, the weapons were lighter, and she danced through the air like an acrobat. The dancer’s starting weapons are fans. I am interested in trying the alchemist class because it is unfamiliar. As the name suggests, you use alchemical powers on your weapons (which start as batons) to take down your enemies. The soldier class is pretty self-explanatory and begins with a halberd. I think the dancer is the best starting build and easiest to adapt to. 

The Story Basics

The game takes place in an alternate historical timeline before the French Revolution when Marie Antoinette and King Louie were still very much alive (with heads attached). It’s obviously a very fictionalized history, but it is seriously cool. King Louie is known as the Clockwork King and has a new advisor that shuts out all of his former advisors. The kingdom starts being taken over by clockwork automatons (Automats) that murder everyone in their path. You meet actual people from history, solve puzzles, and do what you can to figure out why Marie Antoinette’s firstborn son (the dauphin) has died. It’s a fantastic mystery game that is challenging in many aspects.

I don’t want to spoil anything for people who might play the game, but you begin as Marie Antoinette’s bodyguard in a chateau surrounded by these mechanical menaces. She is unhappy because her eldest son is dead; she is basically a prisoner, and her other two children are with their father, King Louie. She is concerned that he has descended into madness with these clockwork monsters keeping everyone in the kingdom prisoner. Seriously, if you aren’t dead, you stay the heck inside your home. Queen Marie dispatches Aegis (also an automat but loyal to Marie) with a specific request. You (as Aegis) must find your creator because he was the one who created all of these clockwork machines. He made them and would be the only one who knew how to stop them. She has also asked you to see if you can find out what actually happened to the dauphin.

Screenshot of Aegis in front of a stately chateau
That view though!

Aegis is the only one who can move around the kingdom freely because she is the only one who has any chance of defeating the automats. It becomes her task to save people in power and to rally them to find ways to overthrow the mad king and his evil advisor. 

Mechanics from a non-mechanic 

I know next to squat when it comes to game mechanic jargon, but I know what I like. I have seen so many mixed reviews on this game, but I loved it. Is it perfect? Of course not. Are some of the controls mildly janky? Sure. But I am one of those people who loves history and loves some good mystery. The gameplay was solid enough that I don’t feel like it took me out of the experience. I don’t tend to sit and play games from start to finish because of limited time, but I couldn’t put this down. I enjoyed seeing the world through the eyes of Aegis. This game has good replayability because Aegis has some tough choices. I haven’t finished my second playthrough yet, but I plan to make a different choice to see where it goes. If you liked Lies of P, I think you will like this. Lies of P seems to have taken a page or two from Steelrising.

Screenshot of the saving point called Vestal
The Vestal, where you can save and rest

The game uses some really cool mechanics, like items from people you pick up along the way, which play a scene of what happened at the moment they dropped that item. It helps you find that person and gives you more background into the main stories you are trying to piece together. The save points are also pretty cool. They look like ornate cages that you must find around the map before saving. This also allows you to repair yourself and do any upgrades you like, as long as you have the materials. The fast travel system is also very interesting. It’s a clockwork horseless carriage. 

I’m not really one to talk about outfits, but dang, the clothing you pick up to put on Aegis is very fashionable. Especially the little number below that got my friend to play because he said it reminded him of the big lady in Resident Evil 8. Whatever works!

Screenshot of one of the outfits in Steelrising
Fashion is fabulous

Give Me More, Spiders!

I highly recommend this game to anyone with a passion for history and want a soulslike experience without the high difficulty that comes with that genre. To say that I am excited to see what Spiders is working on now is an understatement. They are currently working on Greedfall 2 and will be releasing it in early access soon. Hopefully, this lets them take some great feedback from people to make an amazing experience. I just can’t wait!

Have you played Steelrising yet? What did you think? Stay tuned here because I am sure I will be talking about Greedfall 2 soon. Make sure to join us at Couchsoup to feed your hungry nerd soul.

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Michelle Holstine
29 days ago

This looks/sounds so fun!

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