Hear ye hear ye! What would you get if you crossed motorbikes, a dystopian future, and 2019’s climate problems? That’s right, chaos. And this game has got nothing to do with climate or anything at all. But Alexis, why bring all of those points up then? Well, let me explain. This is Steel Rats, a game where you ride on motorbikes which are all equipped with special abilities. It’s not really set in the future, but rather in the past and it does touch upon some of the current climate topics. The game pits you against scrapyard-zombies. Literally. Each enemy that you’ll encounter is crafted out of scrap metal that an enemy overmind has used from our discarded waste. It is your task as a member of the Steel Rats, to find this overmind, and lay it to rest. But will it be possible to do so, with only a motley crew that consists out of 4 riders? Heck, maybe you’re the 4 horsemen come to set about the apocalypse? Who knows! Well, we do. So let us dive in this scrapheap of a game and discover Steel Rats.
- Visually appealing: Though Steel Rats doesn’t have the best graphics, it still is a pleasure to the eye! It has amazing lighting and the effects really pop out in bright colors. For instance, Randall’s chain skill really screams poisonous green and shines bright in darker parts of the maps. And talking about lighting, Steel Rats does an AMAZING job when it comes down to setting an atmosphere. Not once will you come across a scene that you’ll be thinking, hmm, this doesn’t really look polished or all to finished to me?
- Interesting Concept: When playing this you’ll quickly notice that this acts and feels like any other platformer, yet feels totally refreshing for some weird reason. And admittedly it really plays like a new experience. You and your gang are set on a mission to save the world from an evil that has taken the junk and scrap that us humans have thrown away, and made it sentient. It’ll make you think again about what you throw away… I wouldn’t want my broken washing machine to suddenly come back to kill me. But if it’d come to return all the money that it stole from my pants? Then sure! Come on back, you still owe me quite a bit, washing machine! But all jokes aside, I really couldn’t think of another game that played and was designed like Steel Rats. And in a market that’s already oversaturated with certain games or genres, that’s a tough feat to accomplish!
- Great music: The musical score used in Steel Rats truly outshines the quality of the cinematics. And granted, although these are static images with not so much movement, the music that accompanies the cinematics is just, wow! It’s so good, it gave me goosebumps at certain moments. It’s a pity that the talent that was poured into these tracks, wasn’t brought into the main game itself… A bit more on this later.
- Diversity: Hold onto your britches, because there are multiple ways you can play Steel Rats. This is because the game offers you 4 riders to choose from, my favorite one was actually the one you start with, Toshi. He is the brains of the group. With his custom-built junkbot, he can fend off anything that comes his way. But you’ve got, for instance, Lisa. She uses flames to kill the mean robots, or Randall, the maniac with a front-loaded harpoon that skewers anything that unluckily crosses his path. Add to that fact that after each level you’ll have the opportunity to buy some upgrades for your rider, making him or her more proficient in what he or she does. These range from survivability all the way to ultimate skills which all do devastating damage, and put on an amazing show to boot!
- A surprising amount of content: For the price-point that Steel Rats is selling for? There is actually a nice amount of content here. With multiple lands that have a set amount of levels to ride through, secrets for you to find that help flesh out the world more. Challenges for you to compete in and complete. Couple that with the number of different riders for you to choose from, including their visual and practical upgrades? And you’ve got yourself a game that’s just filled to the brim with goodies and doodads for you to tinker around with.
- Lacking in music: Oh come on, why do this! The musical score Steel Rats uses is top notch. It’s meaningful, has a lot of emotion in it… Aaaand is almost non-existent in the game itself. Sure in cutscenes you get to hear the marvelous music… But why not in-game? Ugh… Sure you’ll get a lick of music from time to time, depending on what is happening on the screen. But Not the kind of quality tracks that the cutscenes have. Such a shame! This would’ve made the gameplay so much more interesting… Ah well, we can’t have it all I guess?
- Voice Acting: While the voice acting is a really nice addition to the game, breaking the silence in between sections, it still has some awkward moments. Okay, I did get a few chuckles out of some moments, but these were far and few in between. And granted, these voice actors really did their best, the way these were implemented felt out of place. I couldn’t really picture the voices belonging to the characters they were portraying. Sure a deep gruffly voice for the hardened biker, a higher and more educated one for the brainy one, a crazy/maniacally one for the wackjob,… But no one really shone through and represented who they were in the game. Also, some weird cut-offs in the lines had me thinking “wait, did they just cut him off? Wasn’t there more that he was going to say?!”
- Awkward controls: During my playthrough, I never really got the hang of all the controls. Sure, you get used to it. But it never felt like the game was an extension of my will. Moreover, I rather had the idea as if I was fighting an uphill battle with a pool noodle. Awkward, totally not efficient and just pointless.
- FPS problems: Steel Rats might look very well with buttery smooth gameplay. It still is plagued by some very awkward frame drops. Looks like their particles are giving the game some mayor hiccups because the moment a lot of flying bits are on the screen, the FPS does dare to dip below a certain point, resulting in some onscreen stuttering. And keep in mind, I played this on a One X, so I don’t know how it would be on the regular Xbox. I surely hope that this will get optimized soon as this is a HUGE blemish (in my opinion) on an otherwise good game.
Steel Rats is in no way a bad game. It’s a fresh concept that breaks away from the standard platformer menagerie. It’s a game that was clearly created with passion and love for gaming in mind but lacked a bit on the final polish. Steel Rats won’t be a game of the year contestant, but it won a spot on my unique games of this year list. I’d happily recommend this game to anyone who asked me if I knew a good pass-time game to try out.
Developer: Tate Multimedia Publisher: Tate Multimedia
Played on: Xbox One X Also available on: PS4 and PC
Alexis spent 4 hours riding my bike, that I totally didn’t steal!
Achievement difficulty for 1000 Gamerscore: 15 – 20 hours to get everything is my best guess.
Perfect for: People who like platformers!
Xbox Game Store link: Click here