Gestalt: Steam & Cinder hands on preview – polished, but basic metroidvania

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With the metroidvania space heavily saturated by now across many price points in the gaming market, newer titles generally have to find a way to make themselves stand out with unique gimmicks or styles.

Gestalt: Steam & Cinder does neither of that, instead choosing to opt for creating a polished, but basic, metroidvania experience when compared to its contemporaries. But is this enough in a market nearly drowned in similar games? We’ll find out if they’re on the right track with our preview of the game below.

Gestalt: Steam & Cinder has an opening sequence that hits a lot of common tropes. These include trouble humanity faced long ago to the point of being nearly extinct, how they created something to fight back and win, and finally how this creation led to the current time having strife and war.

While twists and turns are a given when it comes to many stories, I have doubts this game will blow anyone away with its storytelling.

When we get into the Gestalt: Steam & Cinder itself, there’s plenty familiar in it that fans, and even detractors, of the genre will instantly recognize. After all, it’s a 2D side scrolling action platformer with pixel art inspired by the 16-bit and 32-bit era of video gaming.

Just that sentence alone likely has caused many to dismiss this as just another game in an already crowded space, but after getting the chance to play through the demo – I still think it’s worth the time to try for fans of the genre.

Platforming is very easy and simple. You’ll have access to the ability to double jump, wall jump, and dodge roll to navigate the world. I never ran into any tricky spots, and if there are any when the full game releases, they’ll likely be optional places for collecting rare items.

Combat is equally as simple, as most encounters boil down to striking enemies while dodging their obvious telegraphed moves with a quick dodge roll. There are some which require set up, such as using a special shot to stun them from blocking, but nothing that needs any major skill.

There is a bit of a concern when it comes to difficulty in that Gestalt: Steam & Cinder might be too easy and therefore boring to veterans of the genre. Despite that concern, this could make it a solid entry point for those interested in trying it out.

When I tried out the demo, there was no option to select difficulty. So adding in this feature could go a long way for pleasing a wider range of people if they do go with the default being more on the easy side.

Finally I looked at side content and it seems Gestalt: Steam & Cinder has “bounty boards” which serve as the manner in which side quests are given. The only ones available at the start were just simple: kill X of a type of enemy or collect Y amount of items.

Some quests also appear to be given by NPCs that you’ll stumble upon as you explore. It’s worrying that extra content might end up being meager busywork designed to pad out time. I do hope that later on the game more engaging side quests are given.

Gestalt: Steam & Cinder is unlikely to revolutionize metroidvanias barring the game bringing some big twist later in the game. It’s definitely targeting those already in the genre and has done well to create a polished title where I don’t have anything bad to say about it. Despite that it’s just that I also can’t say that it feels exceptional either.

Gestalt: Steam & Cinder is expected to launch some time in 2023 for PC (via Steam).

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Got into gaming thanks to a nice old lady who lived across the street. Enjoy most genres of games.

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