Game Reviews

Stellar Blade review

It’s stellar

₹ 4,999

Is there more to Stellar Blade’s bodacious presentation and unhinged camera angles? Aye! It’s not as flamboyant as Bayonetta but Stellar Blade has tough and fair combat that’s also nuanced, and a story that takes its time to satisfy your single-player itch.

The characters and story don’t have the same brilliance as the PlayStation’s finer releases like God of War 2018 and The Last of Us but where it lacks in substance, it makes up for it in style and combat.

Stellar Blade review: Combat

Stellar Blade’s combat is very similar to Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice and Star Wars Jedi games minus the stamina meter. There’s a shield meter which depletes when you block attacks but it never gets arduous because it's a tad more forgiving than the games it tries to echo.

Even the enemies and the level design have hints of souls-like DNA but are dialled down to reduce the punishment. Smaller enemies don’t pack the punch to send you back to the loading screen but groups of smaller enemies and larger enemies will require methodical use of consumables, range weapon, parry, dodges, Beta skills and perfect parry.

Enemies respawn every time you activate a campsite like a typical souls-like game but the game is quite generous in littering these around the map to make life easier. Some optional bosses will even let you respawn at the arena gate if the campsite is far away.

Stellar Blade’s combat is a methodological mix of hack-and-slash pace with souls-like timing. The game goes beyond just attack and parry. For certain unblockable attacks, you must release the block/parry button and use the directional left thumbstick and dodge button to evade. This also creates an opening for counterattacking with a cool-looking animation.

While there’s more meat to the bone, combat is the cornerstone of this game. Combos from light and heavy attacks and takedowns add flair and style reminiscent of modern-day action-adventure games, say God of War 2018. You also get Beta and Burst special moves that let you deal big damage at the cost of the energy you recharge from parrying and dodging. If used correctly with perfect parry, these moves can break enemy shields and stances quickly, leaving them open for takedown. 

Perfect parry and dodges let you punish enemies more than you could by simply attacking and blocking. So expect the difficulty to be as good as your reaction and speed. The skill tree and gear attachments offer a way to increase the dodge and parry window but the masochists might disagree.

Stellar Blade review: Map and exploration

Stellar Blade changes things up as well. The game moves from wide open-world sections to linear interconnected sections. Even the mission pacing is nicely balanced with big arena boss battles to tight spooky spaces that only allow you to use the ranged weapon. Throw in jump scares similar to Resident Evil and Dark Souls and the game stays fresh every time you pick up the controller.

Some places where the game's linear missions funnel you to the next areas are gated by environmental tasks you have to overcome. Restore power, or do some other shenanigans to unlock the way forward. It may get slow for those looking for the adrenaline-pumping combat at all times but I liked it because these things don’t overstay their welcome. Most of these platforming sections were in side missions which can reward you with important materials for upgrading the Tumbler (health potions), weapon, gear sockets and the drone. You can also unlock all Exospine Nano suits in the game just like the Spider-Man games, and the only way to do so is to run off the unchartered path and explore.

Stellar Blade review: Story

Humans have fled to a space colony because Earth is overrun by weirdly shaped monsters called Naytiba and now the Mother Sphere (the colony) sends sexy android saviours to reclaim Earth. Eve is one of the squad members that arrives on Earth to help humanity. You soon discover that some survivors, worshippers and non-believers exist between the doom and gloom of desolate Earth and you must find and kill the stronger Naytibas while also uncovering the truth behind the strange reality.

Eve and those around her are lacking in depth and creativity. Dialogues feel a bit estranged and tense as if a discussion between a group of anxious freshmen on the first day at a megacorporate job. Nonetheless, the lore hidden in item descriptions and notes should scratch the itch for some.

Stellar Blade review: Graphics and music

Sadly, the entire OST is not available on any music streaming service. There’s an eight track album on Apple Music and Spotify but it doesn’t even have half the songs that are in the game. The OST is by the best in any videogame we’ve heard. There’s Kpop, metal, rock, jazz and more genres covered here and all are beautifully composed with vocals that add a sense of freshness to gaming. We loved all the tracks in the game. Listen to Wasteland 2 track, it's our favourite!

The graphics are good as well. Most of the important characters are well animated but the English voice acting doesn’t do enough justice to it. Eve is the most polished character design and yes, it’s a bit on the sexy side. Can you play Stellar Blade in the living room without your loved ones giving you the side eye? Depends on the costume…

Stellar Blade review: Verdict

Stellar Blade cuts a dash with its stylish presentation and pulse-pounding combat. It may not reach Bayonetta's heights, but the nuanced combat system and a gradually unfolding story quench the single-player thirst. Sure, the story and the dialogue could’ve been better and the linear progression could use some surprises but if the combat is polished to the letter, we’re happy.

Toss in stellar visuals, a genre-bending soundtrack (hunt down the full OST!), and a dash of sexy android charm, and Stellar Blade becomes a stylish action-adventure worth checking out.

Stuff Says

Stellar combat, visuals and soundtrack will leave you wishing for more.
Good stuff
Bad stuff
  1. Great combat

  1. Amazing visuals

  1. Amazing soundtracks

  1. Interesting lore

  1. Dialogues are a bit dull

  1. Character’s lack depth