Initial release date: September 28, 2021
Developer: Zenovia Interactive
Publisher: Tribute Games
Platforms: Nintendo Switch, Microsoft Windows, Linux, macOS, Macintosh operating systems
Genres: Platform game
"Review Copy Provided By Tribute Games"
The renaissance of the 2D action scene has been glorious to watch as so many indie studios have been churning out classic after classic of original titles that are inspired by and incorporate various elements from established franchises. Steel Assault continues that trend by melding them all into one to create an original experience. Does it continue the streak of great indie retro games, or does it fall flat? Let’s find out!
During the late 2030’s, the Second Pacific War broke out in the era of radiological warfare and saw the debut of a radiation dispersal weapon that leaves no traces behind called the thorium bomb. The effects of the bomb would leave entire cities uninhabitable. This left American cities decimated and gave way for one man to rise up and rule over the ashes: Magnus Pierce. Magnus ruled with an iron fist and purged all who would potentially oppose him including the parents of Taro Takahashi, the protagonist of the game. Taro went become a essential member of the Daybreak Resistance and is leading the charge to end Magnus’s tyranny and also to get his revenge.
Steel Assault plays like an amalgamation of ShatterHand, Vice Project Doom, Contra, Castlevania, PowerBlade, and Gunstar Heroes all in one. You have 5 levels that you’ll be going through with some white knuckle action with you using you energy whip to take out enemies as you run and jump and blast your way to the end level bosses.
You can jump and double jump and do a power slide that grants you a moment of invincibility. There’s your energy whip that allows you to whip in 8 directions similar to Super Castlevania 4 with the ability to power up the energy whip to gain a 3 way shot that travels across the screen and lasts for a good while before it expires. The one mechanic in this game that sets it apart from other games is the ability to shoot an energy-based zip line to act as a support beam for you to either get to a higher platform or to be able to scale in various directions as it like the energy whip can fire in 8 directions.
Each of the 5 levels will have you going up against several sub bosses followed by the stage bosses. The sub bosses will range from being simple side scrolling affairs in a battle of attrition to being situations that require you to get creative in order to survive such as the air dragon boss that will have you fighting on a small platform in mid air and needing to drop below it and then use the zipline ability to create a support beam for you to hold onto until the boss stops attacking the platform above.
So how are the levels structured? They are fairly linear with some wiggle room for exploration ala MetroidVania which usually serve to get you a power up for your energy whip. Progressing through the levels will have you needing to platform by jumping and utilizing the zipline all the while attacking and avoiding a near endless onslaught of baddies.
This game is TOUGH as in old-school NES/SNES tough and can seem at times completely overwhelming and yet at the same time if you master the controls and steel your patience and resolve then you’ll overcome all the challenges this game has to offer
This game is one of the more visually amazing retro style games to come out in sometime that looks like it could’ve released on the Sega Genesis. The sprite work and the fluidity of movement is astounding especially with all the explosions going on and the parallax like background scrolling. The levels are all incredibly diverse with loads of colors that pop and add to the visual splendor that’s on display. The game offers a various visual filters including a CRT like filter which gives the game a very 90s-esque look.
The game doesn’t really have many shortcomings and the very few it does have can be boiled down to the fact that this is a very VERY short game that can be completed in half an hour and that will ultimately leave you wanting more. I completed the game and was honestly disappointed that there weren’t more than the 5 levels on hand. I guess given the nature of this title being under 20$ that it makes sense that It’s not a long title although that doesn’t change the fact that I still want more of this game and hope we get some form of DLC down the road.
Steel Assault is one of the most fun 2D side-scrollers I’ve played in a long time yet for all the fun I had with it, it goes without saying that it’s biggest weakness is the short length of the game. Aside from that, the game is pure white knuckle adrenaline goodness that never lets up. If you’re looking for a new game to dive into that doesn’t cost a lot and you can keep playing over and over.