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Stellar Blade Demo Preview – Sony’s Killer 2024 Exclusive?

A quick glance at Stellar Blade might remind you of intense, fast-paced action games like Devil May Cry, Bayonetta or Nier: Automata. While that’s certainly true, the gameplay adds a layer of surprising depth and versatility that you don’t really see in similar action/adventure games. Thanks to some early hands-on time with the demo, we came out a lot more enthusiastic than we already were about how much quality Stellar Blade actually aims to deliver.

The demo takes place in the opening sections of the game when Eve, a member of the 7th Airborne Squad, is sent to Earth to eradicate the Naytiba, a strange alien species that has seized control of the planet from humans. The once prosperous human city of Eidos 7 has become an infested playground for these creatures so it’s up to Eve and her unit to get to the bottom of the calamity while searching for survivors.

Watch the full Stellar Blade demo preview

The demo opens with Eve being dropped to Earth from space. She is joined by Tachy, another member of the Airborne Squad to help you in battle, eventually culminating in a boss fight against a Brute Naytiba. This section is fairly linear, though the next mission lets you freely roam the crumbling ruins of Eidos 7, with side paths branching off to hidden areas around the map. There’s a decent amount of content to experience in the demo if you take the time to explore.

Stellar Blade Demo Preview PS5

Story comparisons will inevitably be made to Nier: Automata, though Stellar Blade‘s setup manages to do just enough to differentiate itself. This translates over to the combat as well, which places an emphasis on perfectly timed parries, dodges and counterattacks instead of mashing the attack button. It’s all kept fairly simple too: there’s a light and heavy attack, with powerful special attacks called Betas that are triggered by holding down L1 and pressing any of the face buttons.

Incoming enemy attacks can be deflected with perfectly timed parries or evaded with a perfect dodge that briefly slows down time. The goal is to ultimately rely less on continuous attacks and more on balancing your counters in between combos since this is vital to dwindling an enemy’s “posture” bar, leaving them briefly staggered for a deadly finisher. Parrying could use some fine-tuning though, since windows can feel oddly inconsistent at times.

Stellar Blade Demo Preview PS5

The combat goes a little deeper once you explore the skill tree. The demo only offers three skill nodes – and not everything can be unlocked in the demo – though you can decide whether to prioritise your attack power, survival or Beta capabilities.

Skills can either unlock new attacks and moves or expand combos. We imagine the variety of abilities will gradually increase once you gain access to them in the full game, but the demo offers a decently expansive skill tree to play around with.

Stellar Blade Demo Preview PS5

Along the way, you’ll come across camps that let you rest, replenish your healing items, learn and practice new skills, craft new battle suits and upgrade your equipment. Resting also respawns enemies in the area except bosses, taking a few pages from the Souls book. Some camps are hidden off the main path, encouraging you to explore areas further. They also act as fast travel points which will be helpful for returning to old puzzles or grinding for SP, the game’s experience points.

The world of Stellar Blade has a lot of potential, even if can feel a bit derivative at times. The crumbling buildings, overgrown vegetation and empty alleys are textbook post-apocalyptic video game design, but what gives Stellar Blade its sharpened edge is the fantastic visuals and strong protagonist.

Stellar Blade Demo Preview PS5

Despite the short length of the demo, Eve is given a good amount of depth and tragedy which we can’t wait to explore in the final product. She has all the makings of a terrific female protagonist and a new, rising star in action games.

Once you complete the demo, you unlock a Boss Challenge mode that pits you against a tough Stalker Naytiba, and equps you with more mid-game abilities and a preset battle outfit. If this is any indication of the difficulty coming in the full game, then we might be in for a decently challenging experience.

Stellar Blade Demo Preview PS5

Stellar Blade‘s demo is only a taste of things to come, but we’re very impressed so far. The combat is the biggest surprise, featuring less combo-heavy action and more strategy involved in how you approach certain enemies. Fans of Bayonetta or Devil May Cry will get their fill of stylish action, though it might also speak to players looking for something a bit deeper than that. Stellar Blade has our full attention and we can’t wait to unravel the full game next month.

Stellar Blade launches on 26 April 2024 exclusively for PS5. Make sure you check out the South African pre-order guide as well as the various editions that you can pre-purchase right now.

Editor-in-Chief of Nexus Hub, writer at GLITCHED. Former writer at The Gaming Report and All Otaku Online. RPG addict that has wonderful nightmares of Bloodborne 2.

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