Steel Storm: Burning Retribution is a developed and published by Kot in Action Creative Artel and is a constantly being updated with new bits and pieces. The original Steel Storm was developed and released as shareware which is the first campaign in the game; the second campaign is much longer and much more difficult by comparison from the very offset.
The graphic style of the game is a sort of cel-shaded art that is quite bold and it really complements the gameplay by making everything quite clear to see. The bullets are nice and easy to focus on so that you can dodge appropriately and all the power-ups etc are easy to differentiate under pressure due to their distinct design and colours.
The game is a top down shooter like the classics from the first few generations of consoles that now reside as small downloadable games. Steel Storm brings ammo-less weapons that will fire until you stop shooting or die and secondary weapons have a cooldown only when they get drained by certain enemies. The special weapons are cooldown based and you can hold up to two at a time and can be switched with each other by pressing shift. There is also a shockwave weapon which produces a shockwave to repel enemies from you. Enemies will rush at you, strafe, and shoot what they have at you as soon as they spot you. At the beginning you will only fight light tanks and a few turrets; these then turn to a mix of light and heavy tanks with turrets of different types including a repair turret that will raise any dead enemies within range until you destroy it. Then there are the mini-boss-like tanks that are ten times larger than you and pack a huge amount of firepower; so dodging, positioning and special weapons will see you through them as you watch their health slowly disappear. Then there is boss enemies, enemies that need a distinct plan of attack to survive against; they are the test of skill that you will be waiting for but at the same time dreading to face. Power-ups like repair and shield boosts are littered across the levels with the score-giving crystals that extend the time bonus points for the competitive element. Force fields keep areas and exits sealed off; defeating enemies, stepping on switches or using data-keys will open them up.
The game takes a lot of replayability from its leaderboards and the way you have to progress in levels as the hurdles for getting those top times. With three lives in the bottom right corner showing how many times you can still die before you fail the mission and the fact that death means losing all weapons that have been gained in the level thus far. This brings in careful management of what to pick-up when and what to leave until later as the risk-reward element of the game comes into play.
The first campaign is a shareware brought into the new game to be with its sequel campaign. This first campaign is quite short in comparison to its sequel but serves as a tutorial on the most-part as it eases you into the game at a nice even pace. The weapons are introduced slowly as are the enemies but the scale of the mission increases bit by bit and as such the time spent in a level skyrockets towards the end.
The second campaign is much lengthier and just generally more difficult making tactical decisions on when to pick up a more powerful weapon which relies heavily on the risk reward options. Time is defiantly needed to make sure that you keep some firepower from the first few levels or else you will find later levels beyond difficult. More new enemies and weapons are introduced and the game gets more involving with each and every minute played gets invested into trying to get that little bit further.
The multiplayer gives you up to 16 players Deathmatch and Capture the Flag game modes for all of those who want to take the battle online to test their mettle against fellow players. Co-op mode is also included and is welcome by many to give another reason to play the campaigns through again. The editor lets you not only create new missions but new campaigns as well but all the missions use ready-made maps as at this point in time. Even without map creation the editor does provide a deep toolset for adding enemies, setting objectives, adding obstacles and much more.
Presentation & Audio
The graphical style is reasonable and the audio is pretty good as well. The colours are bright and easy to differentiate making it easy to see incoming bullets to dodge. The sounds of the bullets firing might get a little grating after a while but it’s generally quite relaxing to listen to the unloading of your entire arsenal on an enemy before an explosion signals that the deed is done.
The game is a top down shooter that is pretty spot on in terms of imitating the feel of the classic shooters but it is stuck in a halfway point between classic shooters and the very Japanese orientated bullet hell type games. It’s a little of both with a leaning towards the classic shooters; this is by no means a bad thing as it makes it stand out from the crowd. It is by in large not an easy game and will have you replaying missions over and over until you get to keep the weapons you need.
Then with multiplayer and an editor for you to release your creativity on there is more to do once you’ve completed the single player and got all the leaderboard positions you care to achieve. The single player is quite lengthy in itself anyway so you’ll be playing this for quite a while.
It is simply a game that is small in price but big on content; it has plenty to do and the two campaigns alone last longer than the single player for 90% of modern shooters. The game plays just like classis top down shooters; including the hard as nails difficulty but also lets you use FPS mode for a different angle and a new and somewhat tougher experience.
The game is a nice modern top down shooter with a lot going for it; it has a really good sense of progression and the game made me double back on a few missions just so that I had the right weapons for the next mission. The game gets really nail-bitingly tense when either you get low on health with freshly picked up weapons or as you are close to losing your last life; you feel more connected to your character in this that in a lot of games as you want to survive so much more. The game is very well supported by the developers and they also play their game so you have a chance to give them a run for their money online. If you like bullet hell games and want something a little more relaxing, then this is an easy recommendation to make. If you like a challenge and/or like top down shooters then this is something well worth investing in as you will invest in every level played.
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.