Stellar Blade Review (Demo) | 2B or Not 2B?

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Stellar Blade is a story-driven action adventure game developed by Korean developer Shift Up. Read on to learn everything we know, our review of the demo, and more.

Everything We Know About Stellar Blade

Stellar Blade Plot

Stellar Blade takes place in a sci-fi-inspired post-apocalyptic world, where humanity is driven off-planet Earth by monsters known as the Naytiba. Amidst this turmoil, the resilient survivors launch Airborne squads to defeat the Naytiba. As players immerse themselves in this narrative, they step into the role of EVE, a member of the 7th Airborne Squad tasked with reclaiming their lost homeworld.

However, a sudden onslaught shatters her unit, leaving EVE stranded until a chance encounter with the scavenger, Adam, alters her fate. Together, they embark on a perilous journey to Xion, Earth's last city, where EVE is determined to fulfill her mission. Along the way, she crosses paths with Lily, a Xion resident whose assistance proves invaluable amidst the trials and revelations that challenge EVE's understanding of her own humanity.

Prepare for a journey fraught with unexpected twists and profound existential questions as Stellar Blade unfolds its gripping tale of survival and self-discovery.

Stellar Blade Gameplay

Stellar Blade offers an immersive third-person action RPG experience, characterized by stylish gameplay reminiscent of acclaimed titles like Devil May Cry, NieR Automata, and Code Vein, infused with hints of elements reminiscent of Dark Souls. EVE can perform ruthless melee attacks, slicing and dicing monsters left and right, or even shooting them from a range.

She will have access to multiple special flashy moves that look similar to Devil May Cry Vergil’s Judgement Cut End, where she slices across the entire battlefield and attacks foes from all angles. She can also dodge with perfect timing, as well as parry enemies just as they strike. As you unlock new skills and abilities, EVE's combat prowess will skyrocket, enabling her to swiftly evolve into an unstoppable and stellar force on the battlefield.

Aside from the combat, Stellar Blade will have tons of quests that will require EVE to explore the available semi-open world of Earth overrun by the Naytiba.

Stellar Blade Release Date

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Stellar Blade will be released on April 26, 2024, for the PS5.

Stellar Blade Review (Demo)

2B or Not 2B?

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2B or NOT 2B? That is the lingering question in everyone’s minds because Stellar Blade drew heavy comparisons to NieR Automata due to its heavy similarities, one of which being a beautiful female protagonist engaging in stylish combat against hordes of enemies. However, while the game does echo some thematic elements of NieR, its combat mechanics stand out as uniquely challenging, complex, and ultimately fulfilling.

Having experienced the first hour and a half of the demo, I must admit that Stellar Blade exceeded my expectations; forgive the pun, but its first act truly lives up to its name, stellar, and has left me utterly captivated.

EVE is NOT a 2B or Bayonetta Clone
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The opening sequence of the game is very cinematic, I was immersed in the high-stakes conflict as Airborne squads attempt to reclaim Earth from the very menacing Naytiba forces. The visceral intensity of the scene was amplified by the hauntingly beautiful soundtrack, which sets the tone for the entire experience.

Upon landing on the planet, EVE is greeted by Tachy, the squad leader, who assists her out of her pod. From the outset, my expectations were pleasantly subverted; while I anticipated EVE to embody the archetype of the formidable protagonist depicted in trailers, akin to 2B or Bayonetta, she instead reveals herself to be quite the opposite—at least initially.

Vulnerable and shaken by the harrowing sights of war and the loss of her teammates, EVE displays a timid and often scared demeanor, far removed from the confident personas of her counterparts. Though she exhibits proficiency with weaponry, she falls short of the prowess embodied by 2B and Bayonetta, finding herself under the guidance and command of the formidable Tachy.

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This refreshing portrayal of EVE as a character still finding her footing allows her to resonate on a more human level, with ample room for growth and development throughout the game. As she navigates the challenges ahead, I find myself eagerly anticipating her evolution and eagerly await to see how her character arc unfolds when the full game releases.

And spoiler alert she immediately gets a reality check and character development as not only do all of her squad mates die because of the Naytiba and surrounding destructions but her leader Tachy, also gets killed right in front of her eyes as she sacrificed herself to shield EVE from a formidable Naytiba threat.

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Fortunately, EVE's journey takes an unexpected turn when she is miraculously rescued by Adam, a resourceful scavenger. As they venture forth, the second part of the demo propels EVE into the heart of Xion, Earth's last bastion. The harrowing events at the outset catalyze a drastic shift in EVE's character, igniting a newfound sense of determination, particularly fueled by her new partnership with Adam, reminiscent of the dynamic between 2B and 9S in Nier.

While exploring the city, Adam provides invaluable support, accompanying EVE like a steadfast companion in the form of a drone akin to 2B's support in Nier. However, EVE's growth is not instantaneous; she grapples with haunting memories of past trauma and acknowledges the steep learning curve that lies ahead, especially in a city teeming with enemies.

Combat is Heavy But Flashy

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EVE's combat feels quite different than what I anticipated. It's flashy and allows for cool combos like 2B, but it's also tougher and focuses a lot on parrying and dodging, similar to Soulslike games. Luckily, there's no stamina bar to worry about. At first, I wasn't sure about the combat because it felt slow and heavy, as I kept getting hit by enemies easily. But then I realized it's meant to be challenging.

To get better, you need to invest in the skill tree and practice parrying and dodging in the training mode. Once you get the hang of it, combat feels smoother and more rewarding. You can pull off cool combos, like the perfect parry, which lets you counterattack with a powerful move that deals a lot of damage. It's tough, especially against bosses, so you really need to sharpen your skills to succeed as enemies can often lead you to a low health bar.

But let me be clear, the action can still be enjoyable even if you haven't mastered all the skills. There are plenty of easy-to-defeat enemies where you can pull off impressive combos, but there are also a lot of tougher foes that can knock you down. Luckily, this game isn't as punishing as Soulslike games, so you can try different strategies without too much consequence.

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After completing the demo, you unlock the boss fight mode, where you play as EVE with more skills and attributes, facing off against a boss encountered later in the game. The difference is remarkable; EVE becomes more agile and dynamic, reminiscent of Sora in Kingdom Hearts as she gains more abilities. She moves faster and feels smoother to control, making gameplay even more exciting. However, facing the boss is no joke – it's tough, and I had to die a few times to learn its patterns and movements.

I'm impressed with the direction EVE's character is headed. It feels fitting for her combat skills to develop alongside her journey to becoming a formidable badass woman. I can't wait to customize EVE even more in the full game and tackle tougher boss fights

Exploration

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There isn't much to delve into regarding exploration, as the game offers only glimpses of Xion's semi-open world. The beginning is a more linear pathway, with occasional platforming sections and small puzzles, such as finding passcodes or swinging from one bar to another. It's standard fare for action-adventure games, featuring treasures, puzzles, rest areas, and tools to aid EVE in her quest.

While it's yet to be determined if exploration will be enjoyable, the intriguing look of the world suggests that players will feel compelled to venture off the beaten path. I sure am. However, I do hope they refine the swimming mechanics, as they currently feel somewhat awkward, with frequent moments where I pop in and out of the water for no reason.

Stellar Visuals

In my opinion, this game easily outshines NieR and many other action-adventure titles like Bayonetta or Devil May Cry when it comes to visuals. It's simply stellarly stunning, from the world's landscapes to its vibrant colors—it's a feast for the eyes, and I’m sure it will only get better in the full version.

The characters are definitely the highlight—they all look like K-pop idols or actors from Korean dramas, and that's a great thing. EVE, in particular, stands out and could easily be one of the best-looking protagonists this year.

Her suits alone are impressive, showing that the developers put a lot of effort into making her stand out in all sorts of ways. I've only seen three of her suits so far, but I'm excited to unlock all of them, especially after catching glimpses of them in the trailers. My favorite at the moment is EVE's racer suit because the red really stands out, but I'm also looking forward to getting her Leon Kennedy-like suit because it seems to suit her well. Stellar Blade? More like Stellar Drip.

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Overall, this demo has me really excited. If the game keeps up like this, it could easily be a contender for Game of the Year. I'm especially rooting for it since it's Shift Up's first AAA title, and so far, it's shaping up to be fantastic. I don't have any major complaints at the moment. We'll have to wait and see, but at least this demo confirms that EVE isn't just a copy of 2B.

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