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Stellar Blade Review: Does the Game Offer More Than Just an Attractive Protagonist?

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Stellar Blade has been one of the most talked-about games in recent months. This is of course due to its dynamic, stylish, and visually striking action sequences (or is it because of protagonist Eve’s ample curves that bounce around like overzealous beach balls with every slight movement?). Regardless, both aspects are undeniably present. If this combination sounds appealing to you, Stellar Blade is the perfect game for you.

A post-apocalyptic Earth is the backdrop of this third-person action-adventure game, developed by Shift Up. Terrifying, but beautifully designed, aliens known as Naytibas have driven humanity from the planet during a devastating war. A fortunate few managed to escape to the Colony, from where a mission is launched to reclaim Earth.

Protagonist Eve is part of The Airborne Squad, the faction assigned this challenging mission. The group comprises specialized elite fighters, possessing the speed, strength, and skills necessary to take on the bloodthirsty Naytibas. This sets the stage for an adventure filled with exciting and visually impressive buttocks..ehh, battles.

How Is Stellar Blade’s Combat?

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Nice segue, right? So, the combat. Quite important in a combat-driven game. I’ll give you a heads-up that Stellar Blade doesn’t get everything right with the game overall, and there are definitely aspects that could improve the general experience. But one thing it absolutely nails, and luckily it’s the most crucial part here: the combat.

Stellar Blade doesn’t reinvent the wheel with its combat mechanics. Pressing square lets Eve perform a quick, light attack with her Blood Edge sword (bonus points for the cool name). The triangle button, as you might guess, triggers a more powerful but slower attack. By mixing up button presses or holding them at certain moments, you can string together flashy combos.

Defensively, you can block the Naytibas’ vicious attacks by pressing L1 or dodge them by diving away at the right moment with the circle button. Having just played Star Wars Jedi: Survivor, I noticed quite some similarities in the combat.

By parrying or dodging just before an enemy attacks, you can perform a ‘Perfect Parry/Dodge’. Often, you need to observe enemies first to recognize their attack patterns. This has drawn comparisons to Souls games, which I can definitely see. Stellar Blade is much more forgiving though, not least because dying doesn’t carry significant penalties. For example, you retain your progress towards new skills.

I found parrying and dodging to be among the most rewarding aspects of the game. The sound your Blood Edge makes during a perfect parry, and the brief slow-motion as Eve acrobatically dodges an attack, never got old throughout the playthrough.

When you time your defensive actions well, you can immediately counterattack with devastating moves that look awesome. Additionally, successful defensive and offensive actions build up Beta energy, which you can use for special attacks. And yes, these special attacks are also a visual treat.

When you take down one of those pesky Naytibas, you’re rewarded not just with a gory finish where Eve slices the monster in half, but also with Skill Points. These Skill Points are fairly easy to accumulate. You can spend them in various Skill Trees, which for example unlock new attacks, improve existing ones, or make perfect parries/dodges easier to perform. Over time, cooler and stronger trees become available. Stellar Blade wants you to feel like a true badass, and it absolutely succeeds at that.

The ‘Normal Mode’ Difficulty Level Was Perfect for Me

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There were still times when I felt a bit less like a badass though. For instance, when I encountered certain massive Naytibas that repeatedly wiped the floor with me. Most of the average Naytibas are manageable, but occasionally Shift Up pulls out their big guns. These monstrosities, often large, strong, and incredibly fast, provided the perfect challenge for me.

“Stellar Blade struck the perfect balance for me in terms of difficulty. Some battles took me about ten tries to get through. These challenges were never frustrating, and each failed attempt gave me enough clues to improve the next time.”

I consider myself a fairly skilled gamer. Maintaining this very blog probably shows that I frequently have a controller in my hand, and that’s been the case for over twenty years. But I must admit that I never finished Elden Ring. Personally, I’m more of a fan of story-driven games, but that’s not the only excuse I have. I just wasn’t good enough, as much as it pains me to say. I did manage to defeat some important bosses, but ultimately, I just died too often to see the game through. I know… it’s sad.

Stellar Blade struck the perfect balance for me in terms of difficulty. Some battles took me about ten tries to get through. These challenges were never frustrating, and each failed attempt gave me enough clues to improve the next time. The only slightly frustrating aspect of failing was that the checkpoints for these battles were sometimes a bit too far away, making the trek back to the fight more irritating than the loss itself.

When, after several attempts, I finally saw a boss fall to the pointy end of Eve’s Blood Edge, it felt immensely satisfying. The fact that this often came with a dynamic and cool cutscene made the victory even sweeter. Unfortunately, the rewards for overcoming these obstacles were a bit less impressive.

The Reward System Could Be Improved

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Stellar Blade makes the same mistake as many other games: the economy doesn’t stay balanced for long. Games often start promisingly, with scarce money and equipment, making every gold coin you collect and spend feel rewarding. I had this hopeful feeling at the start of Stellar Blade, but after completing a few quests, it quickly became clear that money wouldn’t be an issue. Soon, I was swimming in cash, which unfortunately is also the main reward for most of the quests you can take on. As a result, Shift Up generates little motivation to pursue these quests. I completed them all because of the enjoyable action, not because of the stakes involved.

The developer also chose an unusual method for picking up rewards/loot from defeated Naytibas and opened boxes. Instead of automatically adding rewards to Eve’s inventory, you have to pick them up one by one by pressing R2. The rewards appear as colored orbs on your screen (sometimes up to 10 at a time), and you collect them individually.

You can hold R2 to pick them up simultaneously, but still…as a gamer, I press enough buttons already, often those of my girlfriend, so it would have been nicer if everything went directly into our inventory. Another downside is that the orbs can sometimes be hard to spot, depending on the background. This led to me anxiously pressing R2 while wandering around, not wanting to miss any rewards (despite them often being of little value).

Fortunately, there are also more interesting rewards hidden in the world. The most interesting ones are the different outfits, the so-called nano suits, that you can dress Eve in. These outfits recently stirred controversy after the developer modified some suits following criticism that they were too revealing. A bit ridiculous if you ask me, considering the game is 18+ and there are far more intense things happening on screen than a bit of cleavage, but I’ll leave that debate to others. Regardless, the outfits are beautifully designed.

Sure, you probably wouldn’t want your girlfriend or daughter wearing these outfits in public, but I can’t deny they look fantastic on Eve. There are very few outfits that don’t look great on her, and finding them in the environment was a fun challenge. The large selection of nano suits and other decoration also contribute to the replay value.
You can also find modules that upgrade your equipment, provide more HP or Beta energy, or upgrade Adam’s drone (more on the drone later).

However, for the most common reward, money, there’s no need to take on quests. And if you think or hope that the quests might be worth it for interesting character backstories, I have bad news for you. There are exceptions, but about 80% of the side quests are given by rather static, dull characters whose stories I honestly couldn’t care less about. This brings me to the next point.

The Characters and Voice Actors

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As I mentioned, I’m a fan of story-driven games. I love being drawn into a game world and genuinely caring about the fate of the characters we invest hours in. Stellar Blade is not that kind of game. I can overlook Eve, as she’s a very calm and grounded character most of the time, so we shouldn’t expect too much emotional depth from her (Stellar Blade isn’t Detroit: Become Human, after all). Voice actress Rebecca Hanssen, known for playing Queen Meeve in Netflix’s The Witcher, performs this role more than adequately and the further I got in the game, the more her performance grew on me. Fact of the day: Rebecca Hanssen also voiced characters in Baldur’s Gate 3, including Alfira.

When, after an intense battle with numerous Naytibas, I emerge victorious as Eve, the last thing I want to hear is a dry and emotionless “That was intense” from our companion, who watched from a safe distance. Yes, Adam, it was indeed intense. Do you have anything more useful to add? A bit of emotion, perhaps?

Unfortunately, the supporting cast also fails to convey any real emotion. Sidekick Adam, who primarily assists Eve in drone form, is unconvincing. Since he’s the one who constantly keeps you company, that’s quite disappointing. This isn’t just down to voice actor Nezar Alderazi, but likely due to the script he has to work with.

When, after an intense battle with numerous Naytibas, I emerge victorious as Eve, the last thing I want to hear is a dry and emotionless “That was intense” from our companion, who watched from a safe distance. Yes, Adam, it was indeed intense. Do you have anything more useful to add? A bit of emotion, perhaps?

Having just finished Jedi: Survivor, I can say that the dialogue-free little robot BD-1 conveys much more emotion than Adam. Clearly, something went wrong here.

That darn drone follows us around for most of the game. Sometimes, it pops up unexpectedly out of the corner of the screen, causing me to panic and start hitting it, thinking it was a Naytiba. Needless to say, our Adam was more often a nuisance than a valuable companion.

This sentiment applies to most characters I encountered in Stellar Blade. We’re dealing with high stakes here, but I never felt that through the dialogue or emotional delivery of the characters around me.

The Music Is Sometimes Amazing, but Can Get in Its Own Way

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What also doesn’t help in evoking emotion is a cheerful loungey tune playing during scenes which are meant to be tragic and emotional. At certain moments, Stellar Blade would have benefited from adjusting the background music or muting it entirely.

Outside of these moments, the music is excellent. It often reminded me of the catchy tunes from Final Fantasy, which is a high compliment. The music enhances the game’s atmosphere and is particularly effective when you’re exploring the far reaches of the world.

During epic boss battles, the music shifts to a rock genre, hitting just the right note. You can feel the adrenaline surge as you stand on the brink of an important and dangerous fight. It’s not too frustrating to die and try again, partly because the music is so awesome.

Exploring the World

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Stellar Blade features various hubs for players to explore, each containing different quests and items to collect. As I mentioned earlier, the rewards rarely justify the exploration. Still, it’s an enjoyable pastime to find and open chests. You sometimes have to complete a minigame to open a chest, which involves pressing the correct buttons on the D-pad in the right order as quickly as possible.

Some chests are harder to reach because they require acrobatic maneuvers. You can run along walls, swing from bar to bar, and move containers to reach higher areas. It’s sometimes nice to swap out the action for a bit of puzzle-solving, even if the rewards are often underwhelming.

What doesn’t always work well is the fact that not every hub has a map. I haven’t been able to figure out what the added value of this is supposed to be.

When Eve is in larger hubs, she activates a sort of turbo mode after a short period of running, allowing you to cover a lot of distance quickly. In my opinion, this feature would have been welcome in all hubs.

Visually, Stellar Blade Is Somewhat Inconsistent

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Like the audio, the visuals are a bit of a hit and miss. The Naytibas, with all their creepy details, are impressive. Shift Up has gone for a somewhat anime-like style, and the main characters look good within that style.

Yet again, the action is where Stellar Blade truly shines. The animations for both Eve and her enemies are smooth and realistic. The attacks, accompanying sparks, and other special effects all contribute to the successful combat. Eve’s hair physics are also very impressive in as well as out of combat.

The environments generally serve their purpose. They don’t get in the way, but I didn’t find myself engaging in any digital sightseeing either. The low point is that I occasionally noticed parts of the landscape that appeared pixelated and completely blurry. This is not something which should be happnening in 2024.


Stellar Blade is an excellent action game, standing out in the area that matters most: combat. The game provides players with all the necessary tools to feel like a true badass.

The game relies on its immersive action to hide several weaker aspects. Both the main quest and especially the many side quests could have used more depth. The characters we encounter make little impression and will be quickly forgotten.


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