Grab Your Electro Whip and Get Fighting!
I’ve been curious about Steel Assault since I first covered the announcement of the game a few months ago. It looked stylistically like a lost gem from the SNES or Sega Genesis. And sure, I was heartened by the fact Tribute Games was publishing it. But I wasn’t that familiar with developer, Zenovia. Well, now I can put my uncertainty aside. Cause after playing the Steel Assault demo in the Steam Game Festival, I’m incredibly excited about the final release.
The first thing the demo asks of you is to select your difficulty. I wisely chose Normal my first time. Though the game is still a fun challenge, it’s not overwhelming on that difficulty. When I tried a second time on Arcade, I couldn’t even make it past the first mini boss. But that’s not important. What is important is Steel Assault really feels like an authentic classic released in modern times. And as a fan of retro and the games of yore, that’s frankly beyond awesome.
Control-wise Steel Assault isn’t that complex. You can attack in any direction with your electric zip line, jump and double jump, and use the zip line to reach otherwise unreachable areas. You’ll also come across upgrades, such as firing projectiles from the tip of your whip-like weapon, as well as health restoration. But a game doesn’t have to be complex to be fun, and I had a tremendous amount of fun with this demo.
Though it’s not that long, every moment of the demo is jam-packed with adrenaline-pumping action. You start out on a gun boat heading to a city, and you’re immediately beset by flying soldiers. At first I tried jumping and whipping them, but then realized I had a gun nearby. I grabbed it, and started going full Rambo on the fools. Then the first mini boss arrived, a pilot riding a mech with giant crab claws. Initially the boss only tried to crush me, but then it started flying overhead and firing projectiles. It didn’t take too long before he was a hunk of burning metal, and then I arrived at the city proper.
Once in the city, I got to use my zip line to maneuver around. There’s tons of electrified fences and other debris blocking your path, but I quickly realized I could zip line up to platforms and jump past the hazards. The entire time I was beset by foes, including mechs armed with flamethrowers. Once I got ambushed by a duo of them, a chopper section that wouldn’t be out of place in Contra III happened, and I was carried safely out of harm’s way. Or so I thought. Quickly flying drill drones shot up at me, dislodging soldiers to harass me. Then giant flying machines started attacking me, and I died a couple times before I reached a safe harbor.
The rest of the level was challenging platforming, mostly avoiding bullets and jumping onto roofs, while also fighting against snazzy yet brutal motorcycles. At the culmination of the demo, a gigantic looking robot arrived, right before the demo ends.
I have to say, Steel Assault has shown me it knows what retro gamers want. Not only is the game pitch perfect, but it has glorious art and wonderfully intense music. This has officially become one of my most hotly anticipated titles of 2021, and I’m confident Tribute and Zenovia will make the final release worth our wait. If you’re not convinced though, please try the demo yourself while the Steam Game Festival lasts. And make sure you play it with a controller! You’ll thank me later.