Stellar Blade review: Lives up to its name in style

Stellar Blade hacks ‘n’ slashes multiple genres and iconic franchises, takes the best bits, and combines them into something special. The result is an epic action adventure that not only shows its pedigree and holds up as an excellent first-party PlayStation exclusive but has the potential to grow into something bigger and better.

At first glance, you might think Stellar Blade is a half-baked sci-fi thriller that underdelivers—but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Shift Up’s new IP genuinely sets a high bar, and its combination of exhilarating combat, sumptuous graphics, and deep systems makes it flourish in an era chock-full of high-class contemporaries.

Humanity has hope

orcal in stellar blade
Eve has allies along the way. Image via Shift Up

Originally dubbed Project Eve in 2019, Stellar Blade is led by the striking and heroic heroine—Eve. The cool and calculated combat extraordinaire is sent back to Earth from a safe space called the Colony as part of the 7th Airborne Squad. Her mission is to reclaim Earth from a deadly enemy called the Naytiba. These vile organisms come in all shapes and sizes, and their presence is widespread.

Eve doesn’t fight the good fight alone, though; she’s assisted by multiple allies. Adam, for instance, is a member of Xion—Earth’s final populated city—and is desperate to rid Earth of the Naytiba. His intentions are good, but his delivery and general demeanor are somewhat bland.

Overall, the narrative pacing is solid, and the story moves along nicely without becoming too bloated or overstaying its welcome. We learn about the harrowing origins of the Naytiba until Stellar Blade‘s final moments. While some of the supporting cast could be stronger and more memorable, Eve herself is an able headliner whose innocence and lack of understanding of everyday human items and activities are endearing.

Those naughty Naytiba will be taught a lesson

boss in stellar blade
I mean, what is this? Image via Shift Up

Another endearing quality of Stellar Blade is its carefully curated combat. I hate comparing new games to established titles, but it’s a plus to say Stellar Blade is a mashup of Nier: Automata, Devil May Cry, and Bayonetta.

The slick and stylish combat keeps you on your toes and combines multiple systems so you can change up your playstyle if a boss is giving you trouble. Bosses are where Stellar Blade leans heavier into the Souls vibe, with dramatic showdowns, big health bars, and movesets requiring a healthy combination of parrying and dodging.

Outside of these incredible fights, there are a ton of Naytiba variants, giving you countless attack patterns to remember. Shift Up has expertly implemented a diverse and varied combat system with Burst Attacks, Beta Attacks, a myriad of combos, offensive consumables, and even a gun, so you’ll never get bored of the action.

The difficulty consistently increases until everything boils down to the final few opponents—a true test of all you’ve learned so far. Getting to the end can be a pain, though, as Stellar Blade‘s platforming and aerial movement are inconsistent at best. I recall a simple running and jumping gauntlet featuring a fun puzzle premise that quickly descended into teeth-grinding anxiety due to Eve’s finicky movement.

One second, her jumps and slight body movements can make her float all over the place, and the next, it feels like she’s more rigid than a surfboard. When it works, though, Stellar Blade works.

Stellar Blade is a true AAA outing for PlayStation

eve, lily, and adam in stellar blade
The crew. Image via Shift Up

Shift Up is mostly unknown as a developer, and Sony placed lots of faith in the studio with a PlayStation 5 exclusive of this magnitude—especially given the fairly light calendar of PS5 exclusives so far in 2024. However, any potential doubts are quickly forgotten. Shift Up has fashioned a spellbinding action game that gives its competitors a run for their money in terms of graphics, sound design, and all the other metrics we grade titles on.

The character models are fantastic, and you can really feel the dank despair of each location. A litany of lore is spread across the game to remind you—and, more importantly, Eve—what Earth was like before the chaos, cementing your need to fight the Naytiba and end their control of this once-populated planet.

Stellar Blade isn’t always serious, though. Collectible cans are scattered across the world, and when you find one, Eve strikes a fun pose amusingly reminiscent of cliché product placements. On top of this, Eve’s outfits certainly weren’t created with defense in mind—the Skin Suit barely scratches the sultry surface of what you can unlock.

I must confess, I’m a huge fan of Bayonetta and Persona‘s blend of jazzy K-pop and J-pop, and Stellar Blade‘s score is rife with it. It bounces from energetic and enthusiastic to soulful and serene in a heartbeat. It’s beautiful.

The start of something special

It may seem like Sony doesn’t have a stacked year for first-party software, but Stellar Blade effortlessly shrugs off this notion with an adventure brimming with pure class. This PS5 exclusive is a textbook delivery of everything I need from an action-adventure RPG hybrid. It’s about the right length, and the story doesn’t go off the deep end or become entrenched in an incoherent bubble that requires hours of lore breakdown videos to understand.

Aside from a couple of issues I had with the supporting cast and platforming sections, Stellar Blade hits all the right notes, and it could be 2024’s savior—not just Earth’s.


Stellar Blade

Stellar Blade sets a high bar, and its combination of exhilarating combat, sumptuous graphics, and deep systems makes it flourish in an era chock-full of high-class contemporaries.


  • Combat continually evolves
  • Soundtrack is a banger
  • Gorgeous graphics
  • Fascinating world


  • Inconsistent platforming at times

A copy of this game was provided by Sony for review. Reviewed on PS5

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