HomeNewsStellar Blade Review – A Stellar Entrance

    Stellar Blade Review – A Stellar Entrance

    Developed By: SHIFT UP

    Published By: Sony Interactive Entertainment

    Platforms: PlayStation 5

    Reviewed On: PlayStation 5

    Review Code Provided By: PlayStation Asia

    Over the past few months, few games have stirred up as much controversy as the PlayStation 5 exclusive, Stellar Blade. Developed by the Korean game studio SHIFT UP, this new Action RPG began attracting attention upon the release of its demo, which received a mix of reviews. Despite the varied feedback, Stellar Blade is emerging as one of the gaming industry’s hidden gems of 2024.

    Diving Into Danger

    Stellar Blade follows Eve, a Dive Squad member sent to Earth to combat alien-like creatures known as Naytiba. As you progress, you’ll uncover mysteries surrounding the war with the Naytibas and previous teams sent to Earth through collected logs and information.

    I feel that the game’s story is considered one of its weaker points, primarily relying on collected information and logs for lore. There are also occasional how the story’s flow might also get disrupted by events that may be triggered by me completing side quests which will refer to an event that has already passed. While some characters do receive backstory exploration, I barely felt any connection to the characters in the game.

    Eve, the main protagonist, often comes across as overly dramatic, with her emotions erupting abruptly, occasionally leading to cringe-worthy moments. Fortunately, the voice acting and dialogue quality remain satisfactory. Although the game offers dialogue choices, they have minimal impact on the overall story or multiple endings of Stellar Blade.

    It Is All In The Details

    Stellar Blade boasts breathtaking visuals, particularly in its character design, reminiscent of the acclaimed MMORPG, Blade & Soul, which isn’t surprising given that SHIFT UP’s game director, Kim Hyung-tae, was the illustrator for Blade & Soul. Teaming up with Korean movie monster designer Hee-Cheol Jang, the game excels in attention to detail, with characters exhibiting intricate designs. Moreover, each monster is uniquely crafted, avoiding the common pitfall of reusing models with mere colour and animation variations.

    Detailed character design

    The animation quality, particularly for the protagonist Eve, is exceptional. SHIFT UP’s team has meticulously crafted her interactions with the environment, which I was shocked to see such as her instinctive reaction to running into a wall or the seamless transition of her blade into a hairpin when she stows it on her head. Such attention to detail is commendable, as it elevates the gaming experience.

    Regarding performance, players are offered the choice between Performance, Balanced, or Resolution modes. Performance mode stands out as the optimal choice, although Balanced mode remains acceptable, albeit with occasional frame drops below 60 during specific events. While the game does encounter some draw distance issues, wherein distant monsters may render at lower resolutions and frame rates, these occurrences are not overly disruptive.

    On the audio front, Stellar Blade shines with its captivating soundtrack, particularly during boss battles. The inclusion of rock songs during these intense encounters enhances the adrenaline-fueled experience in me. I felt that the voice actors delivered outstanding performances in both English and Korean, although it’s unfortunate that Japanese voiceovers were unavailable in the version of the game reviewed.

    A Mixed Bag

    Stellar Blade is a game that defies easy categorization, initially feeling Soulslike during the demo for me but evolving into a blend of various sub-genres, resembling titles like God of War: Ragnarök. Its core gameplay can be described as hack and slash, yet it incorporates elements from other genres, including Resident Evil-style horror in tight corridors, puzzle platforming, expansive open-world zones for exploration, and stealth mechanics.

    Titanfall is that you?

    I felt the experience of facing bosses in Stellar Blade is reminiscent of confronting the Berserkers or Valkyries in God of War. Defeat in battles comes at a relatively low cost, with nearby checkpoints or the option to revive mid-fight using a specific item. Ultimately, I feel the game leans more towards hack-and-slash gameplay.

    However, Stellar Blade is not without its flaws, particularly due to the multiple genres it attempts to incorporate. I find the lock-on feature can be frustrating, especially when facing multiple enemies, as the camera lock may obscure attacks from off-screen opponents. Additionally, I found myself easily overwhelmed by continuous enemy slashes from multiple enemies, leading to potential combo deaths. Even in Story mode difficulty, the game might be challenging for some players because of how easily you might get overwhelmed by enemies. One enemy can grab you while you still receive damage from another so things like that can get annoying.

    Yes. You have to do math

    The gun mechanics in Stellar Blade also feel underutilized, except in areas where their usage is mandatory. Limited ammo and lacklustre damage make the blade a preferable option in most situations unless facing enemies with pinpoint weak points.

    Despite these shortcomings, Stellar Blade offers a compelling gaming experience with its diverse gameplay elements, though it may not excel in every aspect due to its ambitious fusion of genres.

    A Pixel Thin Hit Box

    In Stellar Blade, the emphasis on blade combat is evident, and it’s worth highlighting the meticulous animation and hitbox mechanics within the game. Players can parry and dodge attacks, but the timing of combos and even jumping can also effectively evade enemy strikes, showcasing the precision of Eve’s hitbox.

    Don’t look down

    I observed that most enemy attack attacks are aimed low. Recognizing this, I can execute specific combos that involve Eve flipping over, evading incoming attacks, and culminating in a final, devastating strike. While there’s a risk associated with mistiming these manoeuvres, successfully executing them feels immensely satisfying.

    Mastering these techniques enables players to adopt a more aggressive playstyle, constantly unleashing combos, especially when equipped with passive equipment that enhances combo bonuses. This dynamic combat system rewards skilful timing and strategy, enhancing the overall gameplay experience and allowing players to engage with enemies in thrilling, acrobatic encounters.

    Off the Beaten Path


    The level design in Stellar Blade stands out as a significant highlight for me. It actively encourages exploration by littering the game world with a plethora of collectables, tempting players to spend countless hours veering off the main path. While the scanning function aids in uncovering hidden items, there are still areas that require players to employ their wits to access. I as the collector enthusiast found myself spending hours exploring every corner of the level to find these collectibles, which I enjoyed a lot.

    Certain regions initially remain inaccessible, prompting players to revisit previous zones in pursuit of completion. Unlocking crates, which sometimes involve engaging in mini-games, adds another layer of depth to the exploration process. Fans of Helldivers 2 may find one of these mini-games particularly familiar. Additionally, the inclusion of a fishing mini-game caters to players with a penchant for angling, offering them yet another enjoyable diversion amidst the game’s rich tapestry of activities.

    Character Customization

    Somebody is due for a haircut

    It’s hardly surprising by now that Stellar Blade offers players the opportunity to customize Eve’s appearance, allowing them to tailor her attire to their preferences. Completing certain quests even unlocks the ability to customize her hair, fostering a deeper connection between players and Eve as they adorn her in their chosen garments. Whether purchased or crafted, the abundance of items ensures a wide array of looks for players to experiment with.

    Beyond visual customization, players can also tailor their combat style to suit their preferences. Whether favouring combo-focused builds or Beta Energy skill builds that enable skill spamming, the game offers diverse options for players to explore. While certain builds may seem more advantageous than others, the freedom to experiment with different combat styles is always welcome, adding a layer of depth to the gameplay experience.

    What I Liked

    Character Design – This might be subjective but the attention to detail on characters including the Naytiba is excellent.

    Animation – The animation on and off combat is very detailed until how it affects the combat hitboxes.

    Level Design – The level design is complex and encourages exploration but at the same time has sufficient checkpoints and quick travel.

    Increase your merchant affinity to unlock items

    What I Didn’t

    Story – The story’s depth is paper-thin and is barely held together by the characters.

    Lock On – The lock on feels clucky with no ability to easily switch between targets and off-screen enemies thanks to the camera lock.

    Innovation – The game does not reinvent the wheel. Most mechanics already existed, and it might feel better or worse compared to other games.

    A Stellar Beginning

    Stellar Blade is a captivating new IP from a Korean studio, offering an immersive gaming experience that, while not groundbreaking, delivers on its promises. In an industry filled with competing titles, the game distinguishes itself by providing a solid gameplay experience for players with a distinct art style and character design. Completing the main story took me around 20 hours, but diving into side missions and collecting all available items can significantly extend the game’s longevity. Overall, SHIFT UP has showcased its ability to create compelling IPs, leaving me excited to see if Stellar Blade will receive an even more refined sequel in the future.

    Final Score – 8/10

    An old school gamer who plays every genre of games. Prefers games which are unique and innovative instead of just pretty looking. All he wants is content, content, content..... The more the better.

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