Stellar Blade review

by on April 24, 2024
Release Date

April 26, 2024


Stellar Blade, the new PS5 exclusive from developer SHIFT UP Corporation, almost feels like a throwback in a way. Outside of Bayonetta 3 and Devil May Cry 5, we just haven’t had this kind of visually dazzling spectacle fighter in quite some time. It may borrow some clothes from Dark Souls’ wardrobe here and there, but it certainly isn’t a Soulslike in any real sense of the term.

In fact, Stellar Blade is more of a character action game, pitting you as a predefined character in a gameworld split across multiple areas, open and enclosed, punctuated by boss fights and dotted with side quests. It also has a campfire system similar to a Soulslike, but it’s way less punishing than that. It crams a hell of a lot in, too, with SHIFT UP apparently afraid to leave any given mechanic out in the cold.

Even after spending some time with the demo, I was surprised by just how much game is packed into Stellar Blade. The campaign itself is meaty, taking you through various set missions that usually lead to the exploration of an open area afterwards. These areas are large, filled with points of interest, side activities, NPCs, secrets, and gear chests. As Eve, last survivor of the 5th Airborne Squad, your job is to protect what’s left of civilisation from the Naytiba, a mutated alien race that has destroyed much of Earth. And this entails picking through the remains of the old world, gathering information, collecting trinkets, and slaying any slathering beast you come across.

Stellar Blade

Stellar Blade’s story is that special kind of heartfelt nonsense that you don’t often see anymore, more or less on par with a Devil May Cry, with an art design that almost certainly takes inspiration from the works of Hideo Kojima and Akihiko Yoshida. The cast is a mix of bizarre cyborgs and very pretty humans, the costumes mostly based around the Japanese “street samurai” look, all baggy sleeves and too many belts. Eve is aided by Adam, of course, a drone and ship pilot who takes her to and fro in the Tetrapod craft, and Lily, an Airborne Squad mechanic.

After losing the rest of her squad in a botched drop from an orbital fleet, Eve has taken it upon herself to hunt and destroy the dangerous Elder Naytiba now stalking the Earth, and defend the people of Xion city. A strict moral code compels Eve to help those in need, which leads to her taking on assignments and requests from most people she meets.

Multiple side quests weave smaller stories of a world on the edge of extinction, where people risk everything for their loved ones or simply survival. There’s some genuine pathos in some of the stories, such as the plight of cyborg Su and his ward Enya, who you meet early in a bar in Xion. Between excursions you’ll spend time in city, buying information and taking quests from the request board, styling Eve’s hair (once you unlock the option) and currying favour with merchants by spending money to increase their stock. The more you do, the more alive the city becomes, with new shops opening and more citizens returning to the streets.

Stellar Blade

The RPG side of Stellar Blade is actually pretty solid, with plenty of minigames and side content to keep you distracted from what should really be a pretty urgent critical path. Sometimes there are story-related reasons for Eve having a little free time, but not always. Downtime is spent at Supply Camps dotted around, which come in two types. The smaller camps allow you to level up Eve’s skills, and restock supplies like explosives, ammo, and healing items. Oh, and you can change the background music if you want to. The larger camps let you craft new outfits and gear, and fast travel to other areas via payphones, which feels like a deliberate nod to The Matrix.

Aesthetically, some areas are stunning, but there’s a lot of time spent in various versions of deserts and underground facilities. That said, exploration is well rewarded with secrets, gear, upgrades for Adam’s drone, and outfits for Eve. And let’s not beat around the bush here, most of these outfits are pure fan service. From tactical bodysuits to denim miniskirts and what amounts to a Playboy bunny outfit, SHIFT UP is pretty unashamed about making Eve sexually appealing and, well, you can make your own mind up about whether that’s a good or bad thing.

But these are only cosmetic, really. The real meat here are the many upgrades and modifications you can make that affect Eve’s abilities. The suits are fitted with upgradeable Exospines that install particular buffs such as higher combo damage or physical protection, while you can also equip Gears that boost specific attributes such as attack speed. These allow for multiple combinations of stats and boosters to modify your playstyle. I simply haven’t dug deep enough to talk to the possibility of build-crafting but it’s nice to have such options.

Stellar Blade

It’s also telling that on normal difficulty I haven’t had to worry too much about what’s equipped. Eve has a staggering amount of abilities and combos, with multiple versions of perfect parries and dodges that themselves open up various combos and charge moves. By the midway point you’ll have unlocked even more special attacks and even a kind of “Rage of the Gods” mode that add more layers to the trifle. If anything it’s perhaps too much to easily absorb, and will take considerable time to fully unpack and master.

Which is kind of indicative of Stellar Blade through and through. It’s a game that screams “look what I can do!”, which is only excusable because it lands so many of its fancy tricks and flips with confidence and verve. Its fast-paced, slick and spectacular combat simply doesn’t get boring, its grotesque enemy designs never really get staid, despite almost all of them being some form of animal peeled in half like a banana skin lined with teeth and pus. The voice work likely won’t win any awards but it’s competent and helps tell a mostly cohesive story, with tons of flavour text and background lore to flesh out the world. It cribs quite heavily from Nier: Automata’s playbook, but that’s fine by me.


Perhaps it’s fair to say that Stellar Blade is a little guilty of overloading the senses, or at least trying to, but most of what it sets out to do is in earnest. And it had to be, too, given the character design of Eve herself which, in a lesser game, might have done more harm than good. But this is a fun, well-designed adventure that wears its influences on its tiny waistline and does a solid job of selling its world, characters, and over-the-top set pieces. It’s also not afraid to weave in some interesting puzzles, both in the environment and side quests, including multiple different hacking minigames, and everything from crane operating to angling.

Which, of course, means there’s plenty here for fans of the action genre. Those who loved slicing away with Bayonetta and Dante will find a lot to love here, and there’s so much to explore and uncover that it’ll keep you occupied for a while too. There’s a hell of a lot going on at any given time, but Stellar Blade remains a surprisingly elegant and exciting adventure throughout.


Combat is great
Lots to do
Interesting world


Story is a lot to take in
Some environments can feel a little samey

Editor Rating
Our Score


In Short

There's a hell of a lot going on in Stellar Blade, but it remains a surprisingly elegant and exciting adventure throughout.