Review of Derived Steel – Like Clockwork

Dead people and livestock litter the muddy cobblestone streets of Paris, their bodies dumped in rotting piles or with muskets in hand where they last stood. Scattered fires blazed across the city, thick plumes of black smoke rising into the night sky. The only surviving inhabitants are hiding in fenced houses and shops, cowering from the clockwork that now stalk the ruins of the French capital. The year was 1789, and in Steelfting’s alternate history, the tyrannical King Louis XVI suppressed the French Revolution by unleashing a mechanized army that slaughtered the populace, cementing his rule with a fist iron punch.

This unique dark fantasy setting helps Steelfying stand out from many of its contemporaries. 2022 has seen a flurry of games like Souls, with games like Tunic, Salt and Sacrifice, and Thymesia each offering a different perspective on the genre. The latest game from French developer Spiders – a studio known for creating action RPGs like Greedfall – features a derivative design that includes all the familiar elements we’ve come to expect in this genre. But Steelfting impresses with how it can combine so many different elements together and make them all work.

You play as Aegis, a mechanical masterpiece and bodyguard of Queen Marie Antoinette. Unlike the mindless automatons that roam the streets, Aegis has a conscience and free will, so you are sent to the heart of Paris to find your creator and fight fire. to end the bloodshed of the autocratic king. Right from the start, you choose one of three classes that specify your initial weapon and attributes, choosing to be a powerful bodyguard, a nimble and lethal dancer, or an alchemist that shoots enemies from the ground. distant. Aegis is malleable enough to be able to switch gameplay fairly easily after this initial pick, although it’s difficult to experiment with different weapons, especially once you’ve been using it for a few hours, because of its talent. Upgradeable resources are too expensive and base level weapons are not viable later in the game. This is a pity, since the variety of weapons at your disposal has the most significant impact in combat.

No subtitles provided

Exhibition room

Steelfting will feel familiar to anyone who’s used the measured fighting style and thoughtful encounter design of the Soul. Your attack repertoire includes both light and heavy attacks, including slow charged attacks that deal heavy damage. A nimble dodge lets you escape danger, but Steelusing doesn’t have a dedicated stopper; Instead, each weapon has a special attack or defense move. I spent most of the game using Aegis’ steel fans, which when combined form a shield that can block enemy attacks. Other weapons, such as the twin swords, mace, and heavy wheel, use other special moves such as counters and prolonged balletic attacks. Because your weapon choice may not always give you a chance to defend yourself, fighting in Steelfting promotes aggression above all else. The pace of each battle is still relatively slow, but Aegis is very mobile as you dodge and jump to avoid attacks before responding with attacks of his own.

Each of these actions is regulated by a familiar stamina system, but a well-timed push of a button when your stamina is depleted will kick it back by instantly cooling your internal mechanisms. friend. The only drawback to this is that if you use it too many times in a row, your cooling system will freeze in place and leave you wide open to attack. Not only is this a clever addition to the timbre, but mastering the mechanic helps keep you steady. This is important, because Steelusing also has an amazingly good mechanic called Immobilisation. By leaving the enemy unharmed, you will fill up a diamond-shaped gauge until it reaches the breaking point, at which point your hapless enemy will become immobile and vulnerable to critical critical attacks. high damage. There’s a rewarding rush of adrenaline that comes from wailing in front of your enemies and implicitly using your cooling system to sustain your onslaught, only to then finish them off with a decisive blow.

While each of these mechanics is geared toward an aggressive fighting style, Steelfting remains more like a traditional Souls, focusing on purposeful combat against tough enemies that can’t be underestimated. Each enemy needs consideration to defeat, at least until you learn their deadly yet exploitable attack patterns. There are dozens of enemy types, some of which have been cleverly designed to further inform you about the world before its current state. For every machine that wields conventional weapons, there are other machines that clearly serve a different purpose in everyday Parisian life, such as musical machines that make you unable to take your eyes off the their trumpets and violins or former lampposts now use their metal pliers to crush anything that stands on them. Street. Your natural inclination may be to step back behind each enemy, but some can rotate 360 ​​degrees to catch you off guard, defeating the classic Soul-like strategy of keeping you on the go. Fighting multiple opponents at once is also fun, as different types of enemies can damage each other. I often try to position myself in such a way that they inadvertently help by hitting each other when trying to hit me.

Enemy movements are noticeably jerky and sometimes stiff, with some of the attack moves being too exaggerated for attacks, but all of this fits the game’s clockwork aesthetic. That said, Steelising’s battle doesn’t always feel completely fluid. Aegis’ animations don’t flow together as one might hope, which takes some getting used to, and actions like swapping weapons don’t always satisfy the best. However, it was something that I eventually adapted to the point of never feeling at a disadvantage.

In fact, the telegraphic nature of enemy attacks and Aegis’ mobility relative to most enemy types mean I find Steelfting easier than most other Spirit types. Mistakes are still punished accordingly, but it doesn’t take long to accumulate a large amount of healing items that help keep your health at its peak between battles. If you’re having a hard time, there’s a handy Assist Mode that lets you tweak various factors to tailor the game’s difficulty to your liking. You can change the rate at which you replenish health or reduce the amount of damage enemies can deal. You can also choose to keep your Anima Essense on death – it’s a resource you use to buy upgrades and will be lost on death if you don’t restore it – to ease some of the challenges. The tough debate surrounding video games, and Soul Eaters in particular, is a dull one with an unnecessary side, but Spider-Man joins the list of developers looking for coming up with creative ways to help more people enjoy the genre, this can only be a good thing.

No subtitles provided

Exhibition room

The only time its difficulty negatively affects gameplay is during Steelaging’s disappointing boss battles. The visual design of each boss is superb, whether you’re going up against a giant monster with a guillotine for a corpse or a bishop armed with a large Bible on a chain. However, defeating them was a surprise. It’s easy to get behind each one and dodge at the opportune moments with no resistance, and grenades make things even easier. It doesn’t take long to buy these varied throws and you’ll collect a lot as you explore each area. Then it’s just a case of standing back and shooting each boss with explosives until they’re dead or close enough. This is more of a balance issue than anything, but even if you ignore the advantage these items and tactics offer, Steelfting’s boss fights are simple and bland.

As you explore the different districts of a desolate Paris, you’ll unlock portals and shortcuts that go back and forth, and upgrade Aegis’ attributes and weapons at Vestals to revive any foes. you have defeated. There are some cracks involved as you return to previously explored areas, but the map opens up as you unlock different abilities like grappling hooks, airborne path, and a powerful kick can knock down unstable walls. This adds some verticality to the level design that sometimes forces you to think upwards. The background is a complicated job but never demands much of you. Still, it’s hard to escape the feeling that the more elaborate maze-like maps rather than the neighborhoods are currently in the midst of political carnage. You’ll find the note odd, but otherwise, any sense of environmental storytelling is absent.

At the very least, there’s some new variety to these environments, with the sands that line the Rhine, the lavish gardens of the Louvre, and the opulent mansions that tear apart. For the most part, though, you’ll be exploring the narrow confines of the bloody streets of Paris. With no in-game maps to look at, double-checking often becomes a chore when you’re trying to find a spot you’ve visited five hours earlier on one of the many look-alike streets. You have access to a compass that provides waypoints for the main quest and any side quests you’ve taken, but this doesn’t always point you in the right direction. There’s also the fact that some side quests can only be accessed after you’ve reached a specific point in the story, but the game ignores notifying you of this crucial point. I think I ran into a glitch when trying to open a portal that leads to a side quest, but the reason it won’t unlock is because opening it is part of a later story quest.

These bugs are annoying, mostly because they’re a waste of time, but they don’t completely stop Steelfting’s unexpected charm. You might be skeptical of Spider-Man’s brazen inspiration for other Souls-like games – yes, it’s derivative, and it’s all too easy to spot similarities – but one When you look through the similarities and notice the differences, you will see all the ways that Steelizing stands out. From the various installments that make up its eye-catching battle, to the fantastic setting and world-building that mixes dark fantasy with alternative French history, there’s much to enjoy at what makes Steel stands out from its peers. It’s one of the better Souls in a genre that’s currently crowded.

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