March 29, 2023

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Steel rats

Steel Rats – PS4 Review

Steel Rats has finally launched and the teenage boy in me couldn't be happier! Steel Rats is a concoction of everything I loved as a teenage boy in the 90's.

Steel Rats has finally launched and the teenage boy in me couldn’t be happier! Steel Rats is a concotion of everything I loved as a teenage boy in the 90’s.

Take side scrolling beat em up levels, add a healthy dose of nostalgic arcade gameplay, add a liberal amount of destruction via crazy upgradable weapons, throw in a slew of junkyard robots to destroy, sprinkle a bit of dark yet fun humour  and finish of a pinch of Biker Mice from Mars via the 4 biker gang members and you have Steel Rats. An original, fun and fresh indie game that somehow feels like a retro, oldschool title at the same time. 

Steel Rats blends two era’s of gaming together perfectly to create a challenging and innovative game that pays homage to its ancestors…Oh, and did I mention the motorbikes have chainsaws on the front wheel?

If it isn’t already obvious I have been awaiting the release of Steel Rats for what feels like an eternity! I first came across the game at EGX Rezzed last April.

In the short demo level that I played, I was instantly transported back to the 90’s whilst simultaneously enjoying the advancements in current gen gaming. Steel Rats takes the best of retro gaming such as action, levels and over the top weaponry and beautifully intertwines it with modern gaming tropes such as storytelling, lighting and graphics, level design and fluid controls. 

Don’t just take my word for it though. Check out the press release for the story in Steel Rats and tell me it doesn’t sound like some awesome, kick ass Saturday morning cartoon!

BREAKING NEWS from Coastal City, as an alien invasion by a mysterious and deadly species of ‘Junkbots’ has begun. Fearless reporter, Veronica Vance, is on the ground bringing you the first details of how this disaster started and the identities of the ‘Steel Rats’, a heroic biker gang doing what all good biker gangs do: saving their city from aliens.

Where did the junk bots come from? Who sent them? Is that a toaster they’re using as a weapon of destruction? These are the questions plaguing the people of Coastal City and only through this extra special video edition of the Coastal Post will you get your first glimpse of the invading armada and see what brought a city to ruin

Meet the colourful characters and personalities that make up the fearless ‘Steel Rats’ a biker gang with no choice but to defend their city from the invading horde. See their spectacular riding skills!

Witness their leather-clad, spike-laden shoulder pads! Gasp as they take to the streets at full throttle, ready to wreck and ride.

Steel Rats is a visceral and ground-breaking evolution of the 2.5D action arcade genre, fusing destructive, octane-fuelled motorbike combat and death-defying stunt gameplay, set in a visually stylised retro future world.

Apologies for the poor audio!!!

So now we have the story for Steel Rats but is the game any good? Quite simply yes. The levels play like you are stood at an old-school arcade cabinet. The levels flow as fast as you want to take them. Fighting Junkbots can be crazy and fast paced or slow and methodical. It all depends on your playstyle. Sometimes I take the time to destroy everyone and other times I just want the pure adrenaline and mayhem of flying through a level at full throttle causing wanton destruction.

As you progress through the early levels of the game you will unlock the other members of the Steel Rats. One of the great mechanics in the game is how the members are implemented. 

As you race through the levels and destroy horde after horde of alien Junkbots you will inevitably die. But don’t worry that isn’t level other. you simply pick another member of the Steel Rats and continue from that exact same point in the level. Honestly switching between characters after dying feels like you have just popped another 20p into the arcade machine.

Steel Rats

Now by this point you are probably thinking that whilst race full pelt on your motorbike from left to right with a chainsaw wheel destroying robots sounds fun it will soon become repetitive. Don’t worry for a second. To complete the levels isn’t simply a case of left to right but also up and down!

Sometimes you may have to lock into a generator and use your bike to power an elevator. Other times you just quite simply drive up a wall! Combine these level mechanics along with jumps and switching between the background and the foreground and levels can become quite frustrating. One occasion springs to mind where I was struggling to jump and dash across the rooftops. Finally made it to the end to be taken out by a monorail moving from the scenery through the game screen and continuing on its way. I was both angry and impressed at the same time. 

All in all Steel Rats is the perfect fusion of new and old. It is fresh and innovative enough to hold itself at the top of the indie game genre whilst comfortably injecting just the right amount of nostalgia and game-play to be considered retro.

Steel Rats comfortably sits astride two of the most innovative and loved genres of gaming and provides plenty to both communities.

Overall Score – 8/10