I really didn’t know what to expect with Steel Rats. Billed as a motorbike combat game, with little in the way of gameplay videos, I needed to wrap my hands around it more than my mind.
In my 20 minutes or so with Tate Multimedia, I dodged trains, ran over evil robots, smashed cars, cut through things with my flame wheel, and died a lot, but like a lot of vehicle games, playing it was a necessity to grasp the flow.
The controls do take some time to get used to, but by the end of my session I could feel myself reacting quite a bit faster and more intuitively than before. The tendency in a vehicle game to go fast is hard to overcome, but going too fast = falling off of ledges, and getting creamed by various robot baddies. I had to slow down and plot my path forward, and use the bike’s powers to work the environment. The bike itself felt great: responsive and enjoyable to drive, and I found myself using the spin move to bang flame covered 180’s quite a bit. There’s also a jump button that triggers a slo-mo moment, which added a real cinematic flair to the game, and made it a hell of a lot easier to land some of the bigger leaps.
Plot wise – the game is still completing it’s identity. You have a team of 4, all with unique bike weapons, who are fighting what seems to be a robot invasion in a 1950’s-esque cityscape. Since this seems to cross the genres of a racing, stunt, and fighting game, I’m not sure how built out the plot truly needs to be, as if I’m speeding down the road and spin-smashing robots, I don’t think there’s much time for detailed exposition. If, like the trailers, they keep the story a little vague and mysterious, I think the player will still have more than enough to engage with.
In my discussion with the developers, I suggested it felt like a combat version of the Trials games, with the added difficulty of the bike’s movement being up and down as well as forward and backward. I expect to be addicted to it for a month or two, as I try to grind out a few more achievements, and hit those jumps just right.
Steel Rats has a planned release some time in 2018, for PC, Xbox, and PS4.