Title: Steel Rats
Developer: Tate Multimedia
Publisher: Tate Multimedia
Genre: Racing, Action, Arcade
Audience: 12 – Violence and Language
Release Date: 07/11/2018
Price: £18.99 – Rapid Reviews UK was very kindly provided with a review code for this title
What the Developers say
Wreck and ride in a visceral and ground-breaking evolution of the 2.5D action arcade genre, fusing destructive, octane-fueled, motorbike combat and death-defying stunt gameplay, set in a visually stylized retro future world. Switch between 4 characters, each with unique abilities, as you wreak havoc fighting deadly Junkbots!
Steel Rats, from developer Tate Multimedia, is a 2.5D action-platformed with a vehicular twist. You play as members of a gang of outlaw bikers who are on a mission to stop the invasion of machines and junk bots. The story starts off somewhat as a mystery as no one knows how or why the invasion began and how the machines ended up taking over. You play as multiple characters of the biker gang comprising of a stunt acrobat, tech savvy teen, an experienced leader, and a daring speedster, and they each have their own specialties. There isn’t much to the narrative with the characters spewing one-liners here and there, but it just was not enough to keep me invested in the story for too long.
Looks and Sounds
Each level has a great amount of detail, highlighting the fictional city of Coastal City, Michigan and illicit the noir setting go 1940’s America. There is a futuristic, yet modern look and had a dark theme with a post-apocalyptic steampunk aesthetic. You will be cruising through the open streets and highways to abandon caves and large factories and while this may seem too basic at first, the platforming and action will keep the proceedings moving along nicely.
Gameplay and Replayability
The objective of Steel Rats is very simple and is set across a variety of levels and locations. Your goal is to reach the end of the level and along the way solving puzzles, fighting other enemies, and performing some platforming. It seems strange having a platformer where you have a bike to maneuver, but it controls much like Trials. I was surprised at how well the controls actually worked once I got the hang of them and while sometimes frustrating, it was quite impressive what they managed to pull off.
Your bike does more than just drive, with you being able to use weapons and abilities that you unlock throughout the campaign. This will also allow you to navigate the levels in unique and creative ways with lite-Metroidvania systems in play. You can dash through enemies and obstacles by turning your front wheel into a spinning blade, create shock waves, and even climb up walls. Switches can be activated to operate doors, lifts and generators for some lite-puzzle solving mechanics.
Think of the bike as more of a companion that is basically an extension of you. Much like the characters, the enemies are somewhat generic in design with most of them consisting of small bots, mid-size machines, and a mega bot. Some enemies however, require a certain move to kill them depending on where their shielding is located. The combat overall is adequate, although can be hard to pull off sometimes on a bike and each biker had a different ability with some interesting combos that can be performed. Unfortunately, I got by with mostly using the same moves over and over again without much experimentation.
The platforming on the other hand can be a lot of fun at times, but also frustrating. I did like combining all the different maneuvers to solve puzzles and escape from areas. Speeding off a ramp, doing a backflip, successfully landing on a wall, speeding up the wall, and killing a major enemy for the area always felt satisfying, even with the somewhat confusing movements of moving up and down on a 2D plane. Fortunately, thanks to the great level design, pulling off these insane stunts and still taking out bots felt immensely satisfying.
Now, the controls aren’t awful by any sense, as stated before, just confusing and I never really quite wrapped my head around the movements. Turning and negotiating sharp corners control well, however pulling off wheelies while also maneuvering around obstacles never really became fun. You will constantly hit walls and other obstacles, and this can greatly influence just how much frustration will occur throughout your play through. Unfortunately, some of these sections devolved into time limit challenges and they weren’t very fun especially for how insanely difficult some were.
I did manage to adapt to the controls, but they were still hard to grasp when put under pressure. Steel Rats ends up being a flashy driving platformer where you are driving, jumping, and fight enemies, over and over again. There are some side-missions to perform for extra cash, such as seeing how many bots you can slide into or how many backflips can you perform in one jump. The cash you earn can go towards new moves and upgrades for your character and your bike. Upgrades consist of extra health, making special moves stronger, accelerating faster, and more. You can also customize your character and your bike, although there aren’t many options to get lost in.
Overall, Steel Rats is a fun 2.5D beat ‘em up. side-scrolling adventure on a motorcycle. The premise and story are pretty basic and the cast of characters aren’t very endearing, but the platforming and solving puzzles were enjoyable. I never could wrap my head around the controls, but the developers still did the job of providing a fun and unique adventure.
Rapid Reviews UK Rating
You can purchase Steel Rats on the PlayStation Store on the following, https://store.playstation.com/en-gb/product/EP4385-CUSA08492_00-STEELRATS000DDE1