Stellar Blade – Preview

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I instantly had to compare Stellar Blade to Nier Automata as it bore too many similarities for me to dismiss. An attractive female protagonist who’s questionably human fighting in a dystopian future accompanied by a flying robot assistant. However Stellar Blade has more Soulslike elements weaved into its gameplay than a pure hack-and-slash.

There’s no doubt that Stellar Blade is gorgeous, taking full advantage of the PS5’s powerful hardware. The environments are very well designed and felt lived in as I explored around a city that’s being broken down due to years of neglect.

While the environments are gorgeous, the character models themselves are a hit-and-miss for me. There’s no question that Eve is gorgeous and the game makes no effort to hide how attractive she is with camera shots that emphasize her figure in a tight- fitting suit. However, the issue is the facial expressions of the characters on the screen. They are noticeably stiff almost like that of a doll’s and it reaches into uncanny valley territory.

Combat is fun and there’s a learning curve into mastering whatever dangers Stellar Blade throws at you. If you’ve played Soulslike games before, you already know the drill. You can perfect parry enemies by timing a block at the last second which disrupts their balance and leaves them open to a punishing attack. A little later you can unlock the ability to perfect dodge as well which allows you to make a powerful counter.

Getting used to the perfect blocks and dodges takes some time to get used to. I felt like the timing to parry enemy attacks are a bit more strict here. Though you can spend upgrade points to make it easier at camps.

Eve has an overwhelming number of attack combos at her disposal. The demo only focused on melee combat and I wasn’t given access to the gun I saw in the trailers. There are combinations of light and heavy attacks that you can string together. I personally stuck to just using the triple heavy attack chain whenever I could or alternating between light and heavy continuously.

Other than that, Eve has other skills which you can activate with the L1 + button keys. I did need some getting used to this as one of the skills I invested in involves perfect parrying and then holding square where slashes through an enemy before slashing at their unguarded behind. This seems to clash with the L1 + Square special attack where Eve makes a combination of thrusting attacks.

For a Soulslike game, I did feel that Stellar Blade is a bit more forgiving compared to other of its kind. I did die a couple of times due to getting used to perfect parrying but I noticed that enemy health doesn’t restore if you go back to a checkpoint.

Stellar Blade has several camps around the map where you can rest up. This will cause enemies to respawn typical of Soulslike games. However, you can also invest in Eve’s skills as well as upgrade her weapons in these camps. You can also buy precious healing items that are scarce and rather expensive. I found myself just going back to a camp to rest than waste any of the healing items I had.

Eve also has her own gear and even appearance which can be customized. Though there aren’t any I found during the demo. There’s no question that Stellar Blade has a lot of fanservice but it thankfully doesn’t neglect its enticing combat.

The story of Stellar Blade doesn’t really stand out at least in the demo. There are three prominent characters introduced in the demo including Eve herself and none of them really have any worthwhile personality. That’s subject to change in the full game but I’m just not as invested as I feel like I should be.

Stellar Blade presents interesting concepts to explore however doesn’t really have a gripping theme that can be found in its demo. I’m excited to see more of what it has to offer as I feel that its combat is already showing a lot of promise.

Managing Editor