A few years ago a small team released a trailer for a game simple known “Project Eve”. What we saw was big demon like beasts, a destroyed earth, and some sci-fi like heroine using a fancy sword with a super long ponytail, and the ponytail is what I remembered. I remembered commenting to a friend that the physics of it were so precise and they’ve gone to a lot of effort to make that ponytail work, and from there my interest in these game started. Project Eve would eventually become Stellar Blade, another PS5 exclusive that would start to receive a lot of attention, for various reasons (more on that later). A demo was released in early April, a demo that did so well that it neared 700k daily players, nearly double that of Final Fantasy VII Rebirth demo. Reports also came out that people were relentlessly playing the demo again and again trying to make the most out of what little they could. Even now a few days up to release the Stellar Blade Reddit is wild with hype, with people literally buying a PS5 JUST for Stellar Blade. So is it all worth it? Is Stellar Blade worth your time?

Stellar Blade takes place in the far future where earth has been destroyed by a cataclysmic war. What remained on the surface is a race of beast like creatures known as the Naytiba, whilst others escaped to “The Colony” which orbits earth. Our titular character is called Eve, and she’s part of the 7th Airborne Squadron tasked with descending to earth alongside other members to take out the source of the Naytibas and cleanse earth from the evil that roams the land. The overall feel of the game is always over the top and elaborate, and the more I played it the more I came to realise that this type of game is extremely reminiscent of Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, in a sense that it’s a wild concept but remains serious throughout. Eve is a small framed girl that has been sent to earth with a plasma sword to defeat giant beast like demons and I love it. I’ll touch more on the story later as it’s actually a pretty big part of Stellar Blade, something I was very surprised about.

As previously stated Stellar Blade is somewhat reminiscent of MG Rising, fast paced sword based combat in open spaces, but I wouldn’t go as far to say it’s a “hack and slash” game . Some people have called it a Soulsbourne type game and there is some truth to that but it really is a blend of a few game types. After some initial setup you are essentially free to explore as much as your abilities will let you, which early on in the game isn’t much. An worry I had earlier on was that everything felt quite linear and that you were pretty much following a path and I was concerned that it was going to be a earlier hack and slash type game – like the PS2 God of wars where it was just a linear path broken up with combat areas, puzzles and climbing parts, however once you break this initial mould the game opens up and you’re given more areas to explore. This is where the game goes from the older linear God of Wars, to more like the recent ones where you’re given a giant game world and are let loose on where you want to go. Whilst there is a main quest to follow, there’s side quests and activities you can get involved in and these are absolutely worth your time. Each of them rewards you with upgrades, XP and outfits, furthermore they’re also just a lot of fun, some are the generic fetch quests but some add some great subtext to the characters you meet on the journey. These are also great fun because the combat is one of the best combat system I have plated in any game. Eve handles so well and precise, It’s a blend of MG Rising and God of War in a way, it’s the usual affair of heavy and quick attacks, dodges and parries but they are so satisfying to full off, especially on the bosses too. What got me is a perfect parry WILL NOT interrupt a multiple attack from an enemy so you have to perfect parry several times in the space of a few seconds and it’s so rewarding to fine tune your personal skills where you know exactly how to pull it off. There’s a boss about mid game that perhaps goes down as one of my favourite boss fights ever, the quick paced parry, dodge, strike is so well tuned I can’t get enough of it. This is pretty required to master by late game as the final boss goes down as one of the most difficult boss fights of any game I’ve ever played, then I found out there’s also a ‘hard mode’. Luckily there is a ‘just the story’ difficulty for those who don’t want that demanding challenge. As your progress, so does Eves abilities, and your reach into the game world extends, aswell as your confidence in taking down enemies. An enemy that gave you so much hassle before becomes super satisfying to take down without a single hit and it’s such a rewarding experience. There’s so many little nooks to explore, as well as a fishing minigame (because of course) that’s actually pretty fun. My only gripe with all of this is not so much the quests themselves, but that there is a ‘point of no return’ at the end game that does not allow me to go back to complete things I missed, and I’m locked out of getting all those soda cans I was collecting through out my playthrough.

it goes without saying that that the game world is deep with lore and world building, whilst also looking amazing. The main characters all look so well designed and love and attention has been given to each, as well as the enemy design themselves. It’s one of the prettier games on the PS5 and the colour palette adds some real fine details to each area. The first overworld Eidos 7 is a crumbling city overgrown with greenery taking the city back whereas the Wasteland is a desolate area with sparse ruins to explore. Further more it runs incredibly well, with no screen tearing and looks amazing, but it is DYING for a photo mode! The music also is FANTASTIC as each areas adds some background effects to the area. This isn’t like Breath of Wild with random noises chiming in, these are fully fledged toned down background songs that reflect the area you’re in. They’re there enough that you remember and recognise them, but not there enough to become a nuisance. It adds some great ambience whilst you’re exploring. Then of course there’s the boss music, which again, like MG Rising, is such an amazing compliment to some of the boss fights. Because the combat is so refined, having a fast paced mix if electronic, techno, metal and trance gives you such an “Ok lets do this” to the boss fights. A soundtrack was released in Korea, but to my knowledge it’s already sold out but I will be getting it one way or the other.

Obviously none of this ties together if the main story is lacking. The premise of the game is quite strong, and within the first 20-30 mins, you get pretty established with the game and it’s characters. However for a short time after that everything goes quite bare. Eves only interactions are when she’s at a rest stop and she has some back and forth with her companions, but even then the convo is quite light and I was worried that it was going to be this linear adventure with some very cliché chats between characters. However towards the end of the first area everything starts to open up. Eve is more involved in the plot, more backstory is given on the game world, other characters you meet have their own stories to tell and Eve goes from a framing device to an involved character and it was in this first visit to the hub world I really started to get intrigued by the story Stellar Blade was telling me. What starts out as a standard ‘save the world’ story evolves into so much more and my interest in Eves story went from a curiosity to one I was heavily invested in. Characters feel real when they emote, there’s a hug at one point that was super wholesome and the voice acting is also fantastic – In Korean. I can’t speak for the English voice acting as I tend to avoid any English voice acting in East Asian games as for whatever reason they go overly English and it comes across as super weird. Play it in Korean, it’s great. As previously stated the character designs are all fantastic and their voice cast compliments it, but I feel we do need to address the previously mentioned reasons why this game for a lot of attention over the last few weeks. Eve, as a character, is an extremely sexualised character, I’m not going to pretend that this isn’t the case. Many comments online argue “Oh it’s just a female character, what’s the problem?” and sure this is just a female character, in fact Eves body model is actually modelled after Korean model Shin Jae-eun. But as I said I’m not going to pretend this is just some coincidence as the game does use this in their favour. There’s jiggle physics, some of the cutscenes are looking straight at her ass, some of the costumes you can unlock include a bikini, a tighter leather dress, a bunny outfit, a cheerleader outfit, and if you collect all the cans, pretty much lingerie. She’s a sexualised character and there’s an entire debate to be had for what’s ok and what’s not ok, but I’m not here to debate that. What I will say though is that this type of design is very common in East Asia, and this is the character design the director Kim Hyung-Tae was going for in his vision, and to compliment this, his wife was the lead designer on Eve herself. Finally I find these types of designs only an issue when it’s clearly a thirst trap in order to make sales when the product is not good, but that’s not the case here.

The game world, the combat, the story, the music, the characters – this is a fantastic game, in fact Stellar Blade goes down as one of the best games I have ever played. The combat is so refined and satisfying to pull off that you look forward to every interaction. The music hits just right when accompanying your adventure, or when it’s blasting out whilst you’re fighting a boss. There’s so much to do in the game, so many collectables and stories to hear that I kept putting off the main story to do so. The story itself, whilst starts out slow had me stopping well late into the night to see where it went because I cared about what happened to Eve and her companions. Shift Up have said New Game+ is coming in the future and I cannot wait to play through it again, he’s also said updates will be free (in most circumstances) down the line. When this game started to get traction late last year I saw a few people say that Stellar Blade looked like the type of game you’d see posted on some Video Game TV show/ magazine in the early 00s but we’d never get. But now we do have it, and it is fantastic.

A review code was provided by PlayStation UK.