Game Review: Steel Defier (PS4, PS5, XBox One, XBox Series S/X)

Steel Defier is an enjoyable little retro-romp through a series of rooms that I actually found very enjoyable. Developed by Viridino Studios (and published by Ratalaika Games), Steel Defier is available on all current consoles and PC. For this review, I went hands-on with the PS4 version

Steel Defier – The Story

You play as an inmate of a space-station prison who finds himself as the sole survivor. Tasked with escaping, you make your way to the landing bay through a series of increasingly lethal rooms. In all, there are 40 rooms between you and freedom with each containing a bevy of obstacles and traps. However, there are multiple paths you can take and you don’t have to visit every room. There are benefits of doing so, though. Some rooms contain upgrades that actually do affect gameplay in a significant way.

Looks Familiar…

Visually, this game is very reminiscent of SNES classic, Super Smash TV with it’s top down view and well-presented sprites. There isn’t an awful lot of variation between the look of each room which is fine as that’s not the point of the game. The point is that it plays really well and is fun and addictive. The main objective of each room is to avoid and jump over the various obstacles to collect fifteen key cards. The movement is so smooth it almost feels like you’re skating around the rooms.

It only gets better as you discover the upgrades scattered in rooms throughout the map. These serve to enhance gameplay by providing enhanced abilities such as dashing and double-jump. One of the most useful is the magnetic upgrade that draws the keycards to you. It’s truly a game changer and helps with the later levels.

Making Progess

As you progress, the story is relayed through static, pixelated screens that are comic-booky in style and do the job adequately. Difficulty never becomes overwhelming. While it’s true that the traps become more numerous, varied and, in some cases, faster, you’ll never become controller-breakingly frustrated and you have unlimited lives. It only becomes easier with the afore-mentioned upgrades.

Being a budget title, the game is relatively short and I was able to achieve the platinum trophy in around an hour. This is both a positive and a negative. Steel Defier certainly doesn’t outstay it’s welcome but I would’ve quite happily played it for a bit longer. If they ever decide to develop a sequel, count me in.

Lasting Appeal

That’s not to say there isn’t a reason to go back. Once the main story has been completed, you can go back and either revisit rooms you missed the first time or partake in the survival mode. This mode all takes place in one room with increasingly difficult traps and for me it became a personal mission to beat my own score each time.

My final thoughts are that Steel Defier is a great little title for only £3.99, When you consider that some places charge that for a cup of coffee and here you get a solid retro puzzle game, I know how I’d rather spend my money. It’s fun, it’s addictive. I just wish there was more of it but if the developer has anything else in the pipeline, I’d be happy to give it a go.

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