Video games have a funny way of identifying different scales of productions. You’ve got triple-A and double-A, and now there’s even some unsightly speak of ‘triple-I’, indie games with lavish production values of their own. Sometimes, you’ve just got to keep it simple though, as is the case with Steel Rats. This is an unabashed B movie of a game, a William Castle schlockathon of disparate parts that developer Tate Multimedia can’t always get to hang together. But good lord is it fun to see them try.
Steel Rats – which is out now on PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One is a little bit Trials, a pseudo-2D scroller in which you balance your bike through various courses. It’s also a little bit Limbo and Inside, a narrative told in beautiful dioramas that pass by in the background, glimpses of recently abandoned cityscapes or industrialised outskirts. Then you’ve got to factor in an aesthetic that’s part 50s biker cool, part 40s art deco and a fair slick of steampunk to try and grease it all together.
And then, when you play it, you realise there’s also a little Sonic the Hedgehog in the way it hurtles you through stages, a little Streets of Rage in how you’re rinsing mobs of robots (oh, I forgot to say – Steel Rats is a little bit post-apocalypse, too, with a tale of alien invasion that’s told as if the Hell’s Angels had deposited themselves in Orson Welles’ radio drama War of the Worlds).
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