Steel Assault is a 16-bit retro-styled action platformer developed by Zenovia Interactive and published by Tribute Games. Steel Assualt takes place in a post-apocalyptic America where you play as Taro Takahashi, “a resistance soldier on a revenge mission against the dictator who lords over the ashes.” The plot obviously is pretty generic and on par for a game like this, but hey, we do love playing games about a lone wolf going up against huge armies on their own.
Anyways, Steel Assault is a throwback to when action games were hard and you were limited by the lives given to you. Oftentimes, once you lose all your lives, that was it and you had to start all the way back at the beginning. Steel Assault is different and unlike the golden days, this game actually has a save system. Basically, the saves are based on checkpoints and you can continue at the last place you left off. That’s a big plus, especially for new gamers who aren’t used to not having save points.
Of course for hardcore players, there’s always Arcade Mode which kills the save points completely.
As for the gameplay, it’s pretty standard though there are several things that stand out. First, this isn’t a ranged game. You’re limited by your whip. You will have some chances to extend the range of the attacks however if you pick up the right powerups. Secondly, you have the use of a versatile grappling hook that also doubles as a zipline. It’s this mechanic that’s really interesting because of what it can do for your environment. You have a double jump, but it doesn’t get you nearly high enough to reach most platforms. Instead, you gotta grapple first and then you can climb high and then jump to those platforms. You can even use this to cling to walls and do a jump, grapple, jump, grapple type of action to get higher as well.
On defense, there is no blocking of enemy attacks. However, your whip is able to deflect enemy fire, so you’ll need to time your whip not only for attacks but also for defending. Lastly, you also have a really handy slide move that lets you avoid most enemy fire if you time it properly.
Graphically, the art style is very good and very retro. The pixel art is very crisp and detailed and what you’d expect from triple-A games back then. Everything is constantly moving and never static and gives the world a real sense of life. It is presented in a 4:3 aspect as an homage to the past. The graphics are even optimized for play on a CRT display. Steel Assault is definitely a game I could see myself playing back in the 16-bit era based solely on how great it looks.
Like I stated above, Steel Assault is not an easy game. It will test your platforming skills as well as your problem-solving skills. You’re limited to your health bar for each run, but you have unlimited lives in normal mode to try and reach the end of each part. You will have to start back at the beginning of each level or checkpoint, but at least it’s not at the beginning of the game.
So is Steel Assault worth your time? That’s definite, yes! There have been a lot of retro-style games released recently, but Steel Assault stands out in this crowded space. It does bring new and unique gameplay elements while utilizing familiar ones as well. It’s a solid action platformer that plays well and looks great. Retro fans will not be disappointed.
Received game from developer and/or publisher for coverage purposes.
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