From its towering bodged-together murderous junk-bots to its bizarre saw-wheeled bikes and its alternate dieselpunk 1940s setting, Steel Rats, released today, is an odd beast. An unusual vehicular action game from Tate Multimedia, part shooter, part platformer, part stunt racer. Players control a biker gang, battling robots across a ruined America, free to drive anywhere (including walls and ceilings) ‘cos they’ve got big saw-blades for wheels. I’m still not entirely sure how this works physics-wise, but it’s cool so I’ll give it a pass. Rev up for the launch trailer below.
I’ve not played the launch version of Steel Rats, but I got to play a bit at Rezzed early this year. Its bikes at once felt a little floaty in the air, but heavy on ground, and there’s a lot of buttons used, thanks to each biker (acting as extra lives) having their own abilities. I only felt like I was getting to grips with the unusual controls by the time I’d finished my demo session, but I felt the spark of something special there. Or maybe I’m just weird and have a thing for odd control setups – I consider Gunvalkyrie on the OG Xbox to be an underrated gem, so take me with a pinch of salt.
It’s the kind of weird, technical game that I tend to enjoy once I’ve had a few hours to play around with them. Tate Multimedia have some experience with motorcycle-themed games before, with their (admittedly rather bland) Urban Trials series, but this feels like an altogether different beast. If anything, it reminds me most of Hello Games’s (yes, the No Man’s Sky people) Joe Danger, plus some killer robots. It’s an unusually creative concept from top to bottom – here’s hoping today’s launch plays as good as it looks.
Steel Rats is out now on Steam for £13.59/€16.99/$16.99