I play a lot of these arcade side scrollers, so here’s my quick review for Steel Assault.
First up – length. Steel Assault took me just 55 minutes to clear, and that is with numerous attempts on some of the bosses. It is not a long game by any means, which I guess kinda fits the arcade theme. So, don’t go in expecting this big multi-hour thing.
Next up – the mechanics. Control-wise, Steel Assault gives you free movement, an attack button, and a zipline – that’s it. However, it uses these to their absolute max, including things like punches instead of your regular weapon when you’re in close range. These punches in turn charge your special meter, which in turn fuels any upgrade you pick up – such as a small scattershot electricity effect that gives your whip some additional range.
Again, nothing too complex here, but what is there works well. The combat is responsive, movement is fluid and doesn’t feel stiff like others in this genre, and the only iffy thing there is the zipline. It can be a bit finicky, so expect to spend some time getting used to how it controls.
Level and enemy variety are also solid. I mean, the game is hardly an hour long, so I guess that wasn’t really hard to do, but I never had that feeling that I was fighting the same thing over and over. If anything, it felt like I was always fighting something new and the game has this really cool trend of throwing this huge enemy at you that LOOKS like a boss, but is actually just some mid-stage thing, leaving the real boss for the end.
And the boss fights are really where the challenge comes into play. On one hand, they have some pretty cool designs, but on the other, this is where that “trial and error” difficulty really shines. The kind of difficulty where you won’t know how to deal with a specific situation until you get hit or die to it.
This can even be seen a bit in the regular gameplay – like enemies spawning right on top of you or placing ranged units just outside of your screen until you’ve already committed to a jump. It can feel a bit cheap at times, but it never got so bad that I felt outright frustrated. If anything, it’s no Ghosts n’ Goblins.
Graphics and music are also fine and there are a number of options you can change to alter how “retro” the game looks, like CRT filters and such. There’s also a bit of a story, but it’s just one of those side things that hardly matters – as expected from an arcade title.
All that said, Steel Assault is fun enough to warrant a recommendation. I don’t know about full price, but if you can catch it on deep sale or even in a bundle – it’s at least worth the time.
Quote: Steel Assault may only take an hour to clear, but that hour is packed full of neat levels, plenty of unique enemies, and challenging bosses – the true arcade experience.
I was provided a review copy of the game in order to write this review. Read more about how I do my game reviews here.