Stellar Blade Demo Preview

The Stellar Blade demo will drop on March 29, and we got an early taste of Eve’s upcoming fight with the Naytiba.

Intense, skill-based combat and challenging enemies are common sights nowadays in many video game genres, and for those seeking that in a sci-fi guise, Shift Up’s upcoming Stellar Blade should be right on your radar.

With Earth long abandoned following the invasion of the malevolent creatures known as the Naytiba, players will join 7th Airborne Squad member Eve in an attempt to reclaim the planet through plenty of combat and exploration in a semi-open world.

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Of course, nobody said it was easy, and players will experience that firsthand when the game’s demo drops on March 29. Having spent slightly more than an hour in an early preview of the same demo build, Stellar Blade looks to have everything in place to impress fans of the genre, even if it is not the most polished experience.

For starters, Stellar Blade is a feast for the eyes when it comes to the characters, and not just in a fan service way. Obvious attention to detail has been paid to Eve and the supporting cast introduced in the demo, and the same applies to all the gruesome and intimidating Naytiba that stands in her way, with Unreal Engine 5 showing off its prowess yet again. While the post-apocalyptic environments are not on the same level, with ruins and destroyed buildings aplenty, the expectation is that things will get more visually striking as the game progresses into wilder territories.

The meat of the experience is undoubtedly the combat, and Stellar Blade is all about speed and precision, which makes its comparison with Nier Automata even more obvious. As Eve, players have at their disposal a seasoned warrior capable of quick and heavy attacks, with strings of combos that can be unleashed on the Naytiba scum. Execute successful hits, and Beta Energy is accumulated, opening the gates to more powerful Beta Skills that can stun and punish enemies, buying you room to breathe.

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As empowering as that sounds, the Naytiba are more than capable of destroying unprepared players as well, using all sorts of tricks to gain the upper hand. Smaller enemies are agile and use numbers to their advantage; large hulking creatures may possess a hard carapace and shields; and sprouting appendages bring new attacks to the table. Only through a combination of attacks, dodges, and parries can players hope to defeat these foes and come out unscathed, and without a stamina system to worry about, it is all down to execution.

The action in Stellar Blade can be swift and unforgiving, and on many occasions, it felt like the normal enemies were more difficult to deal with than the actual bosses available in the demo build. Their attacks were harder to anticipate than the bigger movements made by supposedly dangerous enemies, so that is certainly something to get used to in the long run. There is a definite satisfaction in eliminating the Naytiba, big and small, and when you have reduced the enemy’s Balance to nothing with precise parries and counterattacks, the opportunity to inflict critical damage in a flashy way never fails to bring a smile to our faces.

That speed and agility of Eve can also be used to great effect in exploring the world of Stellar Blade, with secrets and treasures to be found for curious minds. Although we didn’t get to see many varied environments, there was still room for hidden paths and treasures that require environmental storytelling to unlock. Naturally, enhancements like increased health and the like can also be found in the world, giving players more reasons to venture off the beaten path.

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Consumables are also available for players to use, such as healing potions or bombs that can debilitate the opponent. Instead of bonfires, Eve makes camps at various locations to catch a breather to heal up, which is also where the game’s shop and skill system come into play. Supplies can be bought at the shop with the use of currency, and it is highly recommended that players take stock of what they have to always be prepared for what comes ahead.

As for the skill trees, throughout the adventure, players will accumulate precious SP. Filling the gauge rewards Skill Points that then can be invested in different ways. Focusing on the attack tree obviously gives you more capability to defeat your opponents, while survival skills are essential for those looking to be in it for the long haul.

Pumping points into the Beta tree will see more Beta Skills come into the rotation. How you want to build out your Eve is entirely at your discretion, but at first glance, there appears to be much flexibility that caters to all sorts of play styles.

It is still early to judge how the overall narrative will gel with the exploration and combat, but it is clear Shift Up is going for a story that touches on deeper themes in Stellar Blade. Whether that appeals to everyone is up for debate, with the names Eve and Adam being a little too on the nose, especially when it involves the reclamation of the human home of Earth. The full experience will have plenty more to say, so it remains something to look forward to.

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As a whole, the demo provides a pretty clear view of what Stellar Blade will offer players come April 26. Its combination of world-building, combat, exploration, and storytelling seemingly ticks all the boxes for a modern adventure. Defeating the boss in the demo also unlocks a surprise experience that provides a glimpse into the potential of the game’s combat, and that is probably the most exciting aspect of this early taste.

For those eager to jump in, the Stellar Blade demo will be well worth a look, and with saved data carrying over to the full launch, there is no reason not to join Eve in her trials and tribulations on planet Earth.

Stellar Blade will launch on April 26, 2024, for the PS5.

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