Steelborn Review Disappointing

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Steelborn has potential with its unique ability to jump out of a mech and explore, but is hindered by bugs, disappointing map design, and lackluster bosses. Developed by Vega Horizon Studio and published by Take Aim Games, it is a side-scrolling game that initially had potential. The graphics were standard, and the music was good. As I played the game, I was pleased with the ability to jump out of my mech and explore more of the map. The mechs were well-designed, and the placement of the lights was impressive. However, my experience with the game deteriorated as I encountered bugs and disappointing map designs, compounded by bosses with hard-coded moves that made the difficulty mind-numbingly easy.

A story we have heard all too often

The story is standard – a space-faring group lost communications with a colony on a distant planet. You are sent there with your Steelborn, a robotic mech. One of the best things about this game is that you can jump out of the mech to explore more of the map, open doors, or blow up a wall for more access. While in this form, you can attack with a sword or gun, and you’ll collect new weapons as you progress. This element made me enjoy the game in the beginning. Without it, the game would already be forgotten in time, feeling like a clone of better games like Metal Slug.

Steelborn gameplay
Steelborn gameplay

The graphics and art direction are fine for a side-scroller. They are taken from games like Metroid and Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. The mech’s design is thought out, and I loved the placement of the lights. The human you play as is okay, but he is always slanting and looks like a standard Power Ranger. This game is just standard, not bad, but not even close to being good. Bosses that lose parts are left with unshaded nubs.

The cut scenes are deadly

The game’s difficulty is there and is compounded by bugs. One of these said bugs came from the first boss, which had a chunk of itself land on my mech. This chunk prevented me from moving through a door in a cutscene, and at this point, the game was stuck. I had to restart the game and redo the boss. On another boss, after defeating it and in a cutscene, I was killed by falling debris. Other deaths and difficulties in the game are easily fixed with one or two tries.

As for gameplay and movement, my biggest request would be to make a heat gauge to help me avoid overheating my mech. The visual clues the game gives are misleading, and with scaling from different bosses or enemies, it’s hard to keep track. Basic movement is good, and the mech feels heavy and moves with that weight. The human ninja parts are fun with hovering effects and quick actions. There is even a fun mechanic with the mech where you punch the ground to get a jump boost. It’s a cool idea, but simple jump jets would have worked better and made the game more fun. Mechwarrior has spoiled me. The ability to switch back and forth is fun and is used throughout the game, but there is never a time when you use this ability to fight a single boss, and I believe that is lacking.

Short and disappointing

It took me about five hours to complete my first play-through. One thing I noticed is that early levels had much more design and depth to them, with complex level design where you had to change from ninja to mech to complete the level. The last few levels felt cut and pasted, with teleporters in between the floors to a cue from H.R. Giger. This look is so overused. It works for Aliens, but we don’t need every advanced life form to use this look.

Once and done.

Nothing in this game brings me back. I found a few secrets, but nothing amazing, nothing that made me want more. The basic gameplay with a basic story doesn’t make me want to gear up and run through it again.

The basic gameplay, combined with a basic story, makes me rate Steelborn a 4 out of 10.


Review Overview

Steelborn, an indie game from Vega Horizon Studio and Take Aim Games, has potential with its unique ability to jump out of a mech and explore, but is hindered by bugs, disappointing map design, and lackluster bosses. Graphics are standard, and difficulty is compounded by misleading visual cues. Overall rating: 4 out 10.
Hybrid Havoc
Leader of #PixelReboot | Warframe Partner | Enjoys all kinds of games | First system NES