Stellar Blade Review: A Sharp Blade with Hot Hips

An interesting combat system consisting of numerous variations of strikes and acrobatics, attractive characters and a setting with post-apocalyptic alien enemies - this is the recipe for success of the debut big game by the Korean studio Shift Up

By: Vladyslav Nuzhnov | 25.04.2024, 11:33

Stellar Blade is an action game in the semi-open world of Korean Shift Up, which is exclusive to PlayStation 5. The gg editorial team couldn't pass by the talented studio and received Stellar Blade for review. Our planet is in the post-apocalypse. Some of the surviving humanity has moved to the Colony in space, while others are trying to survive in what was once a luxurious metropolis. Something has to be done about all this, and Eve arrives on Earth, who is the main character of the twisted story.

However, the most important thing about this game is not the story, but the gameplay. It is both simple and interesting at the same time and takes some time to master. Basically, it all boils down to two punches, parrying, shooting, and Eve's abilities, but combining all of this and learning something new didn't get boring even after 15 hours of play. And the game is complemented by beautiful visuals and sometimes crazy soundtrack, which only enhanced the experience, so we were satisfied with Stellar Blade.

Synopsis of Stellar Blade

what stellar blade about

The future of humanity is on the brink of an abyss. Strange, powerful creatures called the Nighthawks have devastated the Earth. The people who managed to survive have left it and moved to the Colony in space. The protagonist Eve travels from the Colony to the desolate, ravaged planet with a clear mission: to save humanity by cleansing the Earth of the evil, destructive forces of the Naitibs. But over time, Eve realises that her mission is much more complicated than it seems.

5 reasons to buy Stellar Blade

  • You are crazy about everything Asian
  • Post-apocalypse is your favourite setting
  • You want to see how to make a spectacular combat system out of two strikes, dodging, and acrobatics that won't get boring
  • Awesome sound and graphics with a Korean flavour
  • You're looking for the next Lara Croft (if you know what we mean)

1 reason not to buy Stellar Blade

  • Too attractive characters that can make you resentful and want to write an uncontrollable stream of hate on Twitter :)

Stellar Blade Review

How we evaluate games

Graphics and sound
Meeting expectations
Willingness to recommend
PlayStation Store

Quick transition:

What we learned after the Stellar Blade review

I have to admit that for a long time I didn't really care about Stellar Blade, but one day people started discussing the appearance of the main character. As you can see, these discussions did such a great job of promoting the game that you are now reading this review. I still don't understand what people didn't like. Overly beautiful characters (both female and male) have been in the industry since before I was born. Just as there are many deeply written characters who are praised for more than their looks. It feels like people are discovering the world of games for the first time. It's bad when a game can only boast of the protagonist's hips, but this is not the case with Stellar Blade (Congratulations, you've read beyond the title). This game turned out to be so interesting that I didn't have time to look at Eve in battles at all, because you have to fight enemies, and then solve puzzles, explore the world, and follow the plot twists.

stellar blade ps5 review The main character Eve

Also, don't forget that Shift Up is a Korean studio. These are different cultures and I would even say different worlds. That's why people make games the way they do, and they're doing a good job of doing it the way they see fit.

After reviewing the game, I realised that Stellar Blade is worth talking about for its world, gameplay, enemies, visuals, music, and only then about Eve's appearance. Shift Up made a good game. Yes, it's not perfect, but I don't regret spending time on it. So don't judge a book by its cover alone. First, you should read at least 10 pages to understand that not everything is as clear as it seems at first glance.

stellar blade review

The plot: saving humanity by cleansing the Earth

People lived on the Earth and knew no sorrow, but one day the planet was invaded by alien invaders called the Naitibi. And just as in 1932 Australia lost the war against the Emu, so in Stellar Blade humanity was defeated by the Naitibs. One part of the survivors moved to the Colony in space, and the other to the city of Zion on Earth.

So what does it mean, everyone just decided to give the Earth to the Naitibs? No, because there are always chances for revenge. That's why the 7th Airborne Detachment was sent from the Colony, where our protagonist Eva was. Those who played the demo version know that the revenge turned out to be another mockery of humanity by the Naitibs.

stellar blade review ps5

During the operation, Eve almost died, but she was saved by Adam, one of the survivors who lives in Zion. So what to do? Of course, try again, because as the legendary song says:

Nobody believes in you
You've lost again and again
The lights are cut off
But you're still looking at your dream
Reviewing it every day and saying to yourself
It's not over until I win

review stellar blade At the beginning, we are accompanied by Tachi, the leader of the 7th Airborne Division, but she will meet a tragic fate

However, before that, they have to complete a couple of tasks, and then get to Zion and think about their plan of action. A little later, Adam and Eve will meet Lily, an engineer from the 5th Airborne Detachment, who got separated from the group and tried to survive on Earth alone for some time, but now she has found a company. And now it's up to this trio, led by Eve, to save the Earth.

stellar blade review 2024 Eve, Lily, and Adam - the valiant trio who will save the Earth

I liked the storyline of the game. I can't say that it was the best story in recent times (especially since the emphasis is still on the gameplay), but it was interesting to follow the events. The game has plenty of unexpected twists and turns, tense, epic and dramatic moments, especially at the end of the game. I will say even more: the game has several endings.

I also liked the characters. There are not many of them, but the game is not the biggest, so they are enough for this story. And it's better to do a little but good than a lot but bad.

At the same time, the atmosphere of the post-apocalyptic world is well conveyed, and this setting will always be my favourite, so it was just nice to be in the game. So the result is a good story that moves the game forward and keeps you engaged.

stellar blade overeview

Stellar Blade Gameplay: a lot of drive and exploration

Before discussing the most interesting part of the game - the battles, it is worth understanding what else the player will do in Stellar Blade? If you do not want to run through the game in 10 hours, then you will have to explore a lot, because we usually find ourselves in semi-open locations. What can you find in the locations besides single-player problems? There are plenty of options. Chests with resources, secret locations, corpses containing notes. These notes either reveal the world of the game better or contain a code that will be suitable for one of the chests or open the passage to the next story location.

So I advise you to look around as often as possible to find something interesting. Sometimes it happened that I found a ledge, climbed on it, and then discovered something cool. In this game, you don't have to run before your father into hell. Try to climb everywhere you can. Sometimes this even leads to comical situations. Once I found a room with a lot of enemies, fought with them for a long time, and in the end, there was only a new suit in the room. Afterwards, Lily was asked: "Was it worth all that effort?".

Stellar Blade Gameplay

However, not everything is limited to semi-open or corridor locations, because twice we are thrown into the open world. The first time I was surprised, because I didn't expect to see this in Stellar Blade. There are only two differences between the open world and semi-open locations: the presence of additional tasks and towers that need to be activated. Don't worry, there won't be 100 towers like in Ubisoft games. There are only two of them for the whole game. They are needed to unlock camps, which we will talk about later.

Stellar Blade Game ps5

As for the additional tasks, they are either taken on Zion or are already on the locations themselves. Some of them are really interesting, but most of them boil down to the familiar "fetch and deliver" or "go and kill" principle. In general, there are not too many additional tasks, and they are mostly completed quickly. So you can take 5-10 of them, complete them, and if you are still interested, you can close all or most of them.

Personally, I was interested in exploring the world. First of all, because of the change in dynamics. There's a semi-open location, then a corridor location, then an open world, and then another corridor location. The game itself is not oversaturated with 100500 chests and millions of question marks. Stellar Blade doesn't "suffocate" you, and that's commendable. In fact, by the end of the game, I had improved almost all my skills, and I had a couple of thousand units of local currency in my pocket, and I simply did not know what to do with it.

Dynamic battles that allow you to run wild

Research and history are all well and good, but what is action without combat? As already mentioned, most of the enemies in the game are Naitiba alien monsters with very cool designs. I don't know who drew them all, but please give the team that was responsible for them my admiration. The design is absolutely perfect. It feels as if they all ran out of Chernobyl, and at the same time some wizard "tweaked" them to make them look cool, but we've gone off topic.

A variation of one of the Naytibs

How to fight them? Let's start with Eve's main weapon, the sword. It has two types of strikes: light and heavy. And that's it? If that were the case, the game would get boring after a couple of hours. The magic word "combinations" does the trick. Eve's arsenal and skills are constantly expanding. For example, you can learn a skill that allows you to get behind the enemy's back and hurt them. In addition, parries become your friend. You'll have to parry attacks even more than you have to attack. If you successfully parry the entire series of enemy attacks, you can stun them, and then send them back to where they came from (or take away a lot of their health). You just need to catch the timing. In general, many skills in the game require the right timing.

And now the game will have to be a little scolded. The timings in the game are slightly broken, or the game itself does not respond as clearly to presses as you would like. Sometimes it happened like this: you repel an enemy attack at the right moment, but you still get hit in the head. "You just don't know how to play," you might say. I would accept this thesis, but for some reason, other people noticed this in the demo, and in Rise of the Ronin, which also relies on parries, there was no such problem. Of course, it didn't happen on a regular basis, but these moments of "well, I pressed in time" sometimes haunt you.

Still, it was great to fight. There are many enemies, they are different. And if you relax too much or feel like the heroes of this game, goodbye. It's worth noting Eve's flexibility. After learning at least a couple of combinations, the fights turn into a dance of death, but it depends on your straight hands: for whom it will be death and for whom it will be triumph. The heroine jumps and punches like a real acrobat. Perhaps Eva first graduated from a circus school and then joined the army. I don't know, the game doesn't tell us that.

Okay, so you can fight, deflect attacks and learn new combinations, but what about shooting? The aforementioned Adam and Lily never run with us. Why? Because only Eve hasn't skipped gym workouts to become a Nytiba killer. But running alone would be boring, wouldn't it? Shift Up thought so, and gave us a drone through which our characters constantly communicate. In addition to being able to scan the terrain and be a communicator, this little guy can turn into a long-range weapon with just one button. There are also plenty of ammunition options. It's up to you whether you want to use it as a shotgun, assault rifle or grenade launcher. Is it good? It's great, I'll tell you. In some places, you simply cannot complete the game without the ability to shoot.

And you think I've already told you everything about the combat, but no. The Last of Us Part II is still Sony's best exclusive. Not the same scenario. Eve still has superpowers. It's called Beta skills. No, this is not something from biology class. This is a special energy that is replenished when enemies attack. With Beta skills, you can launch more devastating attacks, and if you level them up, it's even more fun. For example, you can perform a circular attack or stab an enemy with a sword.

And then there are the explosive skills. They accumulate during a successful parry or dodge. These attacks are even more powerful than beta skills. And again, once you level up some of them, you become not only a storm in the neighbourhood, but the whole planet. My favourite attack was when Eva flew into the air and, like a dart, flew down and made an explosive sword strike.

Are you sure that's it now? No, there's more, but I can't spoil it for you.

Now imagine what happens when you combine dodging, combos, beta skills, explosive skills, shooting, and other things that have not been mentioned here. Is it fun? Of course, it's a thrill! This thrill is especially felt during boss battles. Almost all the boss battles gave me driving emotions. This is where the full potential of the Stellar Blade combat system is revealed.

If it weren't for the sometimes crooked timings, I would have given the gameplay five points instead of four. However, I would like to say that I liked the way the game is friendly to players, especially newcomers. In addition to having an easy difficulty level, the game has various accessibility options, such as a hint when to dodge or block (which saved me very often), or automatic resource collection, which is also very useful.

In general, Stellar Blade is a pleasure. It has its own nuances, but for Shift Up, this is the first big game, and for a first time, it's a solid one. It's like the first session at university, where some students fail, but these guys managed to pass with flying colours.

Demonstration of the battle with one of the bosses in the game

How can you make yourself better to save humanity?

What did you think, we're done talking about the gameplay? Don't be in a hurry. Eve can be upgraded. In addition to the aforementioned upgraded skills, which represent a tree branch that is understandable to everyone (there are 5 branches in total) with new skills that are unlocked for points, there is something else interesting.

Skill branches in the game. There are 5 of them in total, each responsible for a separate element of the gameplay

We can set ourselves different analogues of modules. Some charge beta skills faster, others make you less visible to enemies, and still others make your attacks faster. There are plenty of these things, so choose the best build for yourself and go to battle.

Modules to improve Eve's parameters and abilities

You can also unlock new skills for the drone, because it doesn't know much at first. But once you add new skills to it, it will be able to destroy Knightbots like a pro.

Skills branch for the drone

And let's not forget about the various costumes, glasses, earrings, and hairstyles that can be used to update Eve. This is a purely cosmetic element, but it does not make the game worse.

Costumes for Eva. You can also change her glasses, earrings, and the drone's face

Where do most of these procedures take place? In the camps. They are divided into two types: simple ones, where you can save the game and use the store to replenish your inventory and discover new skills. And there are more serious ones, where you can level up your drone, upgrade modules, create new costumes, open new slots for modules (or improve the characteristics of your sword). And there is also nice music playing, so you can sit on a chair, listen to Asian melodies, gain strength, and then go on to save the Earth, but first you need to read this review.

One of the camps where you can relax and prepare for the next adventure

The technical side of the post-apocalyptic Earth

The game kept a stable 60 fps all the time on PS5. I also did not encounter any critical bugs, and at the same time, the game never crashed. So the studio has done a good job with the optimisation, and it was noticeable even in the press version of Stellar Blade.

Visuals that you're not ashamed to look at

Visually, I also have no complaints about the game. Stellar Blade turned out to be very detailed. There is a variety of locations with a lot of small details that complement the world and help with immersion. The characters have good animations, both of their faces and the way they move. During battles, various effects constantly appear on the screen: enemy blood, sparks from blows, flashes, explosions, and others. So sometimes it was even hard to look away from the game. In some locations, you want to see as much as possible, because it seems that the authors have done a great job.

Picturesque locations of the post-apocalyptic Earth

I was shocked by the soundtrack

And if visually I just liked the game (sorry, it's very difficult to surprise in this regard after Alan Wake 2, TLoU II, Ragnarok), the audio, especially the music, shocked me in a good way. My surprise and delight were caused by the fact that I'm not familiar with anything Asian at all, and when after the prologue a melody from an anime kept playing in the background, my first reaction was: "Wait, what?". Then it turned into: "Man, this is so cool". And later I started singing along (I don't know the words, or the meaning, but it doesn't matter). And when such compositions sounded during the battle with the bosses, it really got me going. Although sometimes there were tracks more familiar to Europeans, which are also cool.

If we are not talking about music, the characters are voiced well, I also liked the sounds of weapons, as well as everything that makes sounds in Stellar Blade. So if at some points I still thought: "I'll give it 4 or 5 points", the authors get a solid five from me for graphics, optimisation and sound.

How we will remember Stellar Blade

Stellar Blade will be remembered as a good game that has something to show the player (and it's not just Eve). Shift Up has managed to create a cool post-apocalyptic adventure that makes you lose track of time. The best part of the game is the gameplay, especially the battles. Of course, they are not perfect, but despite this, you wanted to get your sword, charge your abilities, and send a new batch of enemies to the next world as soon as possible. Boss battles are a separate topic that brought the most emotions, especially when you defeat a difficult boss and you have very little health left. In addition, we have a detailed world and music that sticks in your head. Stellar Blade was the game I fell in love with, and I didn't regret it, because it was awesome!

Five things you need to know about Stellar Blade

  • Stellar Blade is a PlayStation 5 exclusive by Korean studio Shift Up
  • The game is set in a post-apocalyptic world that must be saved by a small team
  • The strongest aspect of the game is the dynamic gameplay and combat system
  • The game is complemented by nice visuals and atypical music (if you have not played Asian games)
  • Before buying Stellar Blade, you can try the demo version of the game for free
Stellar Blade
Genre. Adventure, Action
Platforms PlayStation 5
Number of players Single player
Developer Shift Up
Publisher PlayStation
Time to complete 15-35 hours
Release date 26 April 2024
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The editorial team thanks the publisher PlayStation for kindly providing the game for review