Steel Assault is developed by Zenovia Interactive and relies heavily on the arcade-style, which is one of the biggest strengths of the game, but also its biggest downfall. Games different levels are on the shorter side and checkpoints are spaced sparsely. Action is challenging, but surprisingly the playthrough experience felt easy compared to the older side-scrolling classics.
Gameplay is the pinnacle of side-scrolling action games, and Steel Assaults is okay at best. At the first expressions, the controls felt tight and precise. The basic attack is easy to perform, and platforming feels precise. Steel Assault’s problem lies in the momentum. It doesn’t matter how much steroids Megaman took for this side gig, if the dashing, double jumping, and shooting double-sided rope thingies just don’t give the player enough speed to precisely navigate through the levels and boss battles. Steel Assault has some bullet hell elements here and there, but the movement abilities aren’t enough to let the player navigate through them with confidence. This is a huge shot in the leg, as the game tries to relate to arcade-styled replayability, and the modern competition in this genre of games does not allow any room for imperfections.
The graphical style is almost painfully retro. With street fighter-styled boss encounter screens and a multitude of different filters to make your flat screen look old-timey, Steel Assault has the visual style pinned down. Although cool, the older graphical style doesn’t come without its cons, as I have not encountered a game in a long time that gives me eye strain as much as this one. Unfortunately, sometimes the bright, beautiful colors and flashy animations come in the way of the action, as it can be hard to differentiate every enemy and their shots coming in.
Music and sound effects at first remind me of some classic 16-bit beats, but they quickly become repeating background music (thankfully the death screams are on point though). The story is almost nonexistent, and there is no character progression through the stages. Also, the stages -including bosses- can be hard to navigate, as the game does not guide the player very well on where to go and what to do next. These are small criticisms that emphasize the lack of a memorable punchline.
Steel Assault is a game that goes all-in on the arcade elements. Unfortunately, the gameplay elements are somewhat lacking for a game that is relying on them to be perfect. As there is not much of anything else to offer in terms of the overall gaming experience the game becomes a one-session wonder. I spent around an hour on a playthrough and would not buy it again unless the game was on sale with a nice discount.
Publisher: Tribute Games
Developer: Zenovia Interactive
Platforms: Nintendo switch (tested on), PC
Release Date: 28.09.2021 (switch)
Genres: Side-scrolling action
Pictures: Screenshots from the game, taken by the author
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