Stellar Blade is actually a badass game, never mind all the skintight suits

While the skintight suits of Stellar Blade's protagonist are what draw most players in, the surprisingly good gameplay is actually worth staying for.

Stellar Blade is more than just eye candy, its gameplay is actually complex and enjoyable. (Photo: Shift Up)
Stellar Blade is more than just eye candy, its gameplay is actually complex and enjoyable. (Photo: Shift Up)

Stellar Blade might be getting all the hate because of the protagonist’s character design, but it is a good game beyond all the skintight suits.

Developed by South Korean studio Shift Up, the creators of popular and equally notorious MMORPG NIKKE, Stellar Blade is an action-adventure RPG set on post-apocalyptic earth where humanity was driven from Earth after losing a war against the Naytibas.

A member of the 7th Airborne Squad, EVE, travels from the Colony to our planet. She has one goal: to save humanity by recovering it from the Naytiba. However, EVE discovers that her job is anything but simple as she takes on the Naytiba one by one, uncovering the secrets of human civilisation's history among the ruins.

In terms of the story so far, it honestly felt like it’s been done before, especially since the post-apocalyptic setting has been popular for a while now, and the fact that the game takes heavy inspiration from Nier Automata and popular 90’s anime Neon Genesis Evangelion.

Of course, there could be more to uncover. Hopefully, we find a complicated plot twist somewhere along the way, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the story was something predictable either.

However, the game does have multiple potential endings, which will be a win for many who like going down multiple paths.

The creators of Stellar Blade also clearly took inspiration from Nier Automata as the overall vibe of both games are quite similar, especially when it came to their settings: war-torn buildings, empty unusable cars, flora overgrowth, and rusty technology — along with music by Nier Automata composer Okabe playing in the background.

Enemies in Stellar Blade are cleverly designed. (Photo: Shift Up)
Enemies in Stellar Blade are cleverly designed. (Photo: Shift Up)

It also has a female robot protagonist in EVE, who drew flak from some because of how skintight her suit is along with the exaggerated emphasis placed on her buttocks.

This, and the weird hair animation (that keeps getting in EVE’s way) made me roll my eyes during the first few minutes when I played the game.

However, that’s where the similarities end. Stellar Blade’s gameplay is much more complex — you can’t hack and slash your way through the game, and that’s what got me hooked.

Players can choose between different levels. If you’re not used to soul-likes and action-adventure games, you might want to choose the story mode. However, if you’re looking for a challenge, the normal difficulty would be a great option already.

Enemies are cleverly designed and don’t have simple movements. In fact, the movement of the Naytiba is not much more complex you would need to be mindful of how and when you swing your weapon, when to parry, and even pull off special dodges and attacks if you want to survive.

You can also parry and counter some of the enemy’s advances. However, there would be instances where you’d need to dodge, blink, or repulse your way out of enemy special attacks if you want to avoid being skewered or soaked in acid.

There’s also an elaborate skill tree to maximise that adds more complexity to EVE’s combat mechanics, so that whenever you upgrade something in certain situations, there’s a rewarding feeling of seeing how a new skill works.

And if you feel like you truly suck at dodging and parrying, the game has a training mode that’ll help you brush up your skills and get you up to speed right before the next boss fight.

Exploration in Stellar Blade is quite fair, although EVE’s movements are quite limited. The amount of secret areas to uncover is plenty enough it makes you always wonder, “Can I jump my way through that ledge,” or “Is there a way to get to the other side?”

There's more than one outfit for EVE to wear. (Photo: Shift Up)
There's more than one outfit for EVE to wear. (Photo: Shift Up)

There are also different outfits EVE can wear, from hoodies to skirts, shorts, and other suits. This is good news for in-game fashion collectors, especially since you wouldn’t need to spend real cash on anything.

Instead, there are different ways to find these outfits, either by looking for them across the game's world, finding the materials, or simply buying them at the in-game shop using in-game money you can grind by killing monsters.

Overall, Stellar Blade offers more than just eye candy, and shouldn't be laughed at: its meaty gameplay mechanics, cleverly designed bosses, and multiple endings make the game worth playing.

Just maybe, don't figure out how to toggle the most difficult mode if you don't want to get offended.

Anna is a freelance writer and photographer. She is a gamer who loves RPGs and platformers, and is a League of Legends geek. She's also a food enthusiast who loves a good cup of black coffee.

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