Steelracing Proves That Soulslike Setting Can Solve or Break It

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It goes without saying that at the moment the soul-like genre is a bit crowded. Spiders is the latest developer trying to replicate this magic formula in the SteelRising role—playing game, which draws inspiration from the FromSoftware game catalog. The very nature of the soulslike genre is to copy a formula that works so well, and this means that it can inevitably be very difficult for one game to distinguish itself from others, as fundamentals such as combat and skill trees are very similar between games. . SteelRising is not trying to stand out in this regard. However, it puts players in a war-torn 17th century Paris, and that’s what really sets it apart.

In an alternate version of the story from SteelRising, the mad king Louis XVI commands an army of automatons to rule the city with an iron hand. These machines roam the streets of Paris, keeping terrified citizens locked up in their homes, afraid to leave. Playing as Aegis, a sentient automaton tasked with ending the king’s reign by defeating these machines, players can explore Paris and travel to the contrasting places it offers.

The setting of SteelRising in Paris is where it shines

At first glance, SteelRising seems like a pretty ordinary soul. Light and heavy attacks, an endurance scale, various weapons to collect and upgrade, a reusable health container and checkpoints where the player is reborn after death, regenerating all enemies in the area, and much more — all this is a standard fare. Anyone who is even superficially interested in the Dark Souls series or any of its clones knows exactly what to expect here. While this is not necessarily a bad thing, it means that the game has to work very hard to create its own identity. Fortunately, the alternative historical setting of SteelRising does a great job of demonstrating something else.

It’s a pleasure to look at war-torn Paris, and the Spiders developer has clearly put a lot of effort into making the world he created as close as possible to the source material. French architecture has been beautifully recreated, from the museum halls of the Louvre to the deserted streets of Luxembourg. Players will find themselves in beautiful gardens with marble statues and traditional hedge-style paths. Then, in a few minutes, they will make their way through an abandoned coal factory with broken equipment scattered all over the floors next to the fire blacksmith factories. Following the open world of Elden Ring, this aspect of any game has become the subject of more attention than ever before, and SteelRising is abandoning this category.

Not only does Paris look fantastic, the game manages to naturally weave its intricate levels into the environment. The winding paths twist and turn, and then close in on themselves again, allowing players to open previously locked gates and doors, creating shortcuts. None of this is anything new for the genre, in fact, just the opposite, but so many soul-like games are trying, but unsuccessfully, to recreate the innovative level design that FromSoftware made famous.

SteelRising doesn’t do anything particularly new in its gameplay, combat system, or progress system. However, what it offers is a unique take on 17th—century Paris, and that in itself is proof that an interesting soul-like setting can really make a difference when comparing it to others in this genre.

SteelRising has already been released on PC, PS5 and Xbox Series X/S.

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