Stellar Blade Review

Stellar Blade Review

The OMG Review
Our review format is not your usual fare and we’ve broken it down into 3 very simple ratings!

“Buy it!” means that the game deserves a place in your collection. Be it day 1 or a slightly delayed purchase, it’s hard to go wrong with this title. In numbers, this is around an 8/10 and above.

“Wait for it…” means that while the game is good, it probably isn’t worth it at its day 1 price point. We suggest you wait for a sale before jumping in. In numbers, this is around a 5 – 7/10.

“Ignore it!” means that the game is not something we’d recommend playing, whether it be now or in the near future. Maybe ever. Let’s not even go to the numbers for this one.

Sneak Peek
  • Release Date: April 26, 2023
  • Platforms: PS5
  • Genre: Action Adventure
  • Similar Games: Sekiro, NieR: Automata
  • Price: starts at $69.99

Transitioning from mobile gaming to the triple-A arena can be an intimidating leap for most studios, where demands and resources escalate exponentially, especially in today’s gaming landscape. With recent blockbuster releases like Dragon’s Dogma 2, Final Fantasy VII Rebirth, and Helldivers 2, the bar is set high for any newcomer aiming to make a lasting impact during this part of the year.

Enter Stellar Blade. Developed by Shift Up, a studio untested in the console space, the game has faced its share of detractors over the weeks and months leading to its launch. But where there’s smoke, there’s fire, and this game is certainly ready to light things up.

Eve and the rest of the team have come to prove doubters wrong because Stellar Blade is an extremely impressive debut outing, capping off a string of high-profile PS5 exclusives over the past few months that reinforce 2024 as another year of utterly fantastic gaming.

An Audiovisual Delight

Stellar Blade invites players to follow the epic journey of Eve, a member of the 7th Airborne Squad and a warrior from an off-world colony sent to vanquish the Naytibas, malevolent and enigmatic entities that have emerged and ravaged Earth. Together with unlikely allies Adam and Lily, the trio band together to take the fight to the Naytibas, all while ensuring the survival of the last citizens in the human city of Xion.

stellar blade adam eve lily

The game emerges with a visual style that captivates from the outset. The meticulously crafted world, characters, and monsters exude a level of style that lives up to the lofty expectations set by the game’s trailers. Full credit goes to the artistic vision of Kim Hyung-Tae, whose distinct style infuses the game with sensuality and allure, prominently embodied by the protagonist, Eve.

Arguably one of its strongest qualities, the game is a showpiece of flair and flourish. Character models don cybernetic tech attire that blends seamlessly with the game’s futuristic backdrop. Belts, buckles, and fasteners adorn these figures from head to toe, creating a cohesive and visually striking ensemble. While the entire cast, including Adam and Lily, aims to impress, Eve commands the spotlight.

Shift Up has transformed Eve into a virtual fashion icon—a dress-up doll whose style is as crucial as her combat abilities. From tweaking hairstyles and accessories to outfits that progressively reveal more skin, whether engaged in fierce battles against the Naytibas or capturing picturesque moments, Eve’s appearance remains a focal point despite the lack of lore and reason connecting her to these outfits.

stellar blade eve 4

The animation quality in Stellar Blade is nothing short of spectacular, where every movement and detail contributes to the overall immersion. Before anything else, let’s address the elephant in the room: the jiggle physics. While it flirts with sensuality, it strikes a balance that adds just the right amount of fan service without crossing into offensive territory. Cutscene camera angles are measured and intentional, pairing the aforementioned fan service with punchy choreography that makes combat sequences a good watch.

Interestingly, some of the outfits in Stellar Blade seemingly affect how Eve’s character is rendered when wearing them. Some outfits will noticeably “enhance” her posterior, making it appear larger with slightly more jiggle, while others will be more “supportive,” pushing up other body parts. It’s certainly an interesting decision from the developers, but this kind of attention to detail might be pushing it a bit too far depending on how you look at it.

Beyond that, fluid animations and choreographed cutscenes with a splash of QTEs also elevate the gameplay experience. Details such as Eve kicking her sword out of an ambushed enemy are smart additions that underscore the developers’ commitment to visual excellence and detail. Overall physics is on point, and it is a joy to see it in action while playing.

Stellar Blade boss 3

Stellar Blade’s visuals shine, but its audio emerges as another brilliant facet of the game that makes it an auditory masterpiece. The soundtrack, meticulously crafted by Studio Monaca—owned and led by Keiichi Okabe, renowned composer of the iconic “NieR: Automata” score—leaves a lasting impression. These tracks bear the unmistakable influence of Nier, but when you’re drawing inspiration from a god-tier soundtrack, there’s very little to complain about. The game blends haunting and meditative vocals interwoven with piano and orchestral flourishes that resonate long after the game is done.

Stellar Blade also boasts pretty good voice performances from its talented cast, with the native Korean dub offering a unique experience. As someone familiar with Korean shows and music, hearing the language within the context of a game feels remarkably satisfying, naturally enhancing the on-screen sequences. While Eve, and even Adam, don’t reach the performance levels of the others, it’s an above-average effort that can easily be appreciated.

Fighting for the Future

Stellar Blade proves that aesthetics alone won’t suffice and employs a combat system that stands out as another major highlight. Drawing inspiration from Sekiro, the game emphasizes parrying, requiring players to rely on quick reflexes and study enemy patterns akin to Soulslike titles. There are many familiar elements, such as how resting in camps will restore HP and revive enemies, but it is much more forgiving because obtained items are not lost and there’s no heavy penalty for dying apart from having to traverse the area again.

From the start, Eve can confidently defend herself, but as the game progresses, acquiring additional skills unlocks the combat system’s full potential. The depth of combat strikes a balance of sufficiently challenging yet not overly complex, resulting in a satisfying experience that can be picked up by players averse to the challenge that Soulslike titles bring, even with the inclusion of a Story Mode difficulty option. There’s a wide variety of enemies that command their own approach and timing, offering gameplay that’s hardly repetitive even if you’ve already gotten the hang of combat.

stellar blade parry

Eve’s equipment falls into two main categories: Exospines and Gear. Exospines may dictate Eve’s playstyle to a certain point, enhancing specific aspects that grant advantages in battle like the Reflex-type Exospine prioritizing easier parries and dodges, while the Chain-type gives a damage bonus when executing combos. Players can choose from a wide range of Exospines, catering to their preferred defensive or offensive approach.

Additionally, Gear modifications offer bonus effects, such as extra damage to shields, increased gold acquisition, and melee damage reduction. When paired strategically with Exospines, Eve becomes supremely adept at handling foes, allowing for build options to a certain degree.

The game boasts a diverse array of combat skills that open up the potential for highly impressive gameplay clips. When confronted with a blue fatal attack, players can deftly employ “Blink,” a defensive maneuver that teleports Eve behind the enemy for a devastating assault. Meanwhile, countering pink fatal attacks involves the skill “Repulse,” which pushes the character away while leaving the enemy vulnerable to ranged damage.

Eve will command Beta and Burst energy, resources that allow her to unleash damaging attacks that can eliminate the Naytibas. These can both be filled up by either attacking or defending, but specialized Exospines and Gears can hasten the process, possibly sacrificing defensive upgrades in favor of offensive capability. Later in the game, Eve will even gain control of a ranged weapon which is another feather in her arsenal that can be used against the Naytibas.

stellar blade battle 1

Combat in Stellar Blade is dynamic and reactive, prioritizing parries, and its succeeding chain attacks, over evasive maneuvers. Drawing inspiration from many titles like Bayonetta and Devil May Cry, the game’s combat mechanics resemble a rhythmic dance, requiring precision and patience before unleashing a deadly flurry of slashes and a dose of measured aggression.

Stellar Blade’s combat has no fixed formula, but managing expectations is crucial to avoid disappointment. Skilled players may opt for aggressive tactics, staying within striking distance to pressure foes relentlessly. Others might adopt a more strategic approach, anticipating incoming attacks and setting up counter-offensives.

Stellar Blade has some weird inconsistencies when dodging, which could prove to be a source of frustration. Even when equipped with dodge-relevant gear and unlocking the skills to make the dodge timing easier, there are times that the same timings will end up differently, and it’s happened enough times to merit some deep breathing exercises for relaxation.

stellar blade gigas

Notably, Stellar Blade features formidable and visually arresting boss encounters. From a gear-headed behemoth to a flame-hammer-wielding adversary and a twin-bladed samurai, the boss designs are stunning. Punching at par with the character models, mob and boss animations also offer the same visual quality level that makes the game a definitive looker.

Stellar Blade’s combat is further heightened thanks to its rock-solid performance on the PS5, especially in balanced mode, which is an easy recommendation. There are hardly any dips in frame rates, even during the heaviest battles, and trying to keep the resolution at a 1440p target does wonders for visual quality. Playing in resolution mode boosts image quality to 4K but at the severe cost of 30fps or lower at times, which is generally not recommended for such a precise and combat-centric title.

The World and its Faults

Outside of these aspects, Stellar Blade starts to show chinks in its armor. While combat sequences are its crowning glory, the gameplay outside of it reveals areas ripe for improvement. Levels often follow a linear structure, but certain parts offer semi-open world exploration, where Eve can traverse through a variety of puzzles, swim, climb, and embark on quests to uncover numerous rewards like collectible cans and even more cosmetic outfits.

These areas are limited to sandy expanses and rock-strewn wastelands, and while the areas themselves look good and are somewhat fun to explore, the problem lies in the fact that players are confined to these two similar environments, offering little in terms of variety. There are puzzles littered around that are quite fun to finish, but outside of the occasional surprises, the overall structure and feel are the same, requiring Eve to distribute power to operate the camps and fast-travel areas before progressing comfortably.

What follows are corridor sequences that pivot from the game’s core melee combat to firearm-only engagements. This shift in gameplay mechanics necessitates a radically different strategy, which might not resonate with all players, especially those who relish the polished close-quarters combat that Stellar Blade excels at.

stellar blade adam wasteland

Moreover, Stellar Blade integrates platforming elements that, while intended to add diversity, fall short of the fluidity and finesse expected from the game. The animation quality during these segments often feels rigid and sluggish, detracting from the otherwise fluid gameplay found in the rest of the game. These platforming sequences can become a source of frustration, particularly when players are required to repeat sections due to slight missteps that require accurate traversal.

At some point, Eve and her companions will arrive in the city of Xion, which offers more side quests, bulletin board requests, shops, and stories that enrich the world. While the board requests are reduced to boring and simple fetch quests, the side quests obtained from the denizens of the city are definitely worth doing, producing some of the better story beats in Stellar Blade that lead to surprising results. Oh, and did I mention that there’s fishing in the game?

Obtaining some key items in the game evolves Xion into a more lived-in environment, and it does feel quite good to see the city progressing to a more dynamic setting. Sadly, this is suddenly cut short and halts what could have been some semblance of “base building” that would have added a nice touch.

Stellar Blade xion

Xion also opens up customization options for Eve, gaining access to an array of stunning outfits and hairstyle options. These customization choices significantly alter Eve’s appearance both during gameplay and in cutscenes, adding a layer of personalization that players will eagerly explore for “culture” purposes.

Narratively, Stellar Blade dares to venture into bold territory with its plot twists, yet they often fall into predictability. Despite this, the narrative serves its purpose and provides a solid foundation for the game, especially with its multiple endings that will surely offer intrigue. The meticulously crafted world holds immense potential for future adventures, and it’s not hard to see how many more stories can spring forth from this “universe.”

On our Stellar Blade playthrough, we rolled credits at around 29 hours, finishing the story while accomplishing a good number of side quests in normal difficulty. Hard mode is unlocked after finishing the game, and a day one patch will add new game+, just in time for launch.

stellar blade eve adam screenshot 1

Verdict: Buy it!


Stellar Blade is an extremely impressive debut from Shift Up, serving up a combination of dynamic combat with visuals and animations that pay extreme attention to detail. Eve’s adventure is dressed up with the wrappings of a masterful soundtrack that resonates long after the game is finished, and there’s enough content to warrant a more thorough playthrough the second time around.

Stellar Blade’s story is sadly predictable, and characters like Eve prove hard to form an emotional connection with due to their relatively flat personalities, but the world and lore are intriguing enough to create more properties should the developers choose to do so. It doesn’t offer much in terms of groundbreaking innovation, but Stellar Blade is a competent and confident effort that will offer a good time worthy of your attention.

*Stellar Blade was reviewed on a PS5 with a review code provided by the publisher.

Stellar Blade Review Summary - 8.5

8.5 Score

With a masterful soundtrack and visual flair that bursts from the screen, Stellar Blade is a supremely confident outing from Shift Up that just lives up to its potential despite a few missteps.


  • Combat is fast-paced and grounded, but very deliberate and satisfying
  • Bosses are challenging spectacles
  • Character models, monster designs, and animations are top notch
  • Masterful soundtrack
  • The world and lore are ripe for the taking
  • Flawless and rock-solid performance/balanced mode


  • No Photo Mode is blasphemous
  • Platforming sections are stiff and finicky
  • Some repetitive sections slow the game down
  • Eve, as a character, is hard to emotionally connect with
  • Fairly predictable storyline
  • Some textures in the world are noticeably lower resolution

Review Breakdown

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