Gestalt: Steam and Cinder is a game that small, awkward, closeted me would have made up on the spot. It’s got violence, kickass and beautiful women, and has a steampunk aesthetic that I can’t help but coo over.
Booting up the demo, one of the first thing Gestalt: Steam and Cinder tells you is that it’s strongly recommended for you to use a controller. Considering that I wasn’t able to progress past this screen unless I had one connected, it seems obvious that a controller really is the best way – so keep that in mind.
You play as Aletheia, a fiery, red-haired woman who must really like the get-up of cowboys considering that she dons a leather duster and hat like she belongs in a John Wayne film. You’ve just woken up after a few weeks of being knocked out cold, something to do with a particular bounty that had your friend carrying you back to get fixed up. Everyone is pretty concerned about you, and one fella even gets a little flirty. You can flirt back, or keep your relationship professional, but in my time with the game’s demo, I didn’t really get the sense that romance will be a huge deal.
Regardless, you’re told that Vincent, your contact and a barkeep in the city of Irkalla, has a job for you. It’s here that you’re released from the hospital and are free to explore the city. It’s here that this game’s art really shines. Irkalla is nothing short of magnificent, and I often found myself stopping to look at the smallest of details, such as the smoke, or the pockets on people’s coats and jackets. Hell, even the dogs that you come across – which you can’t pet in the demo, but certainly can in the finished game – are detailed to have stubby tails that wag and big, dopey expressions.
Irkalla doesn’t just look good, in my time with the demo it’s clear that there is a class divide. From dialogue between NPCs and yourself, I gathered that the part of the city we’re adventuring in at the moment is pretty much the slums, the Darktown of Gestalt: Steam and Cinder, if you will. This doesn’t surprise me too much, as it seems that a lot has changed in Irkalla, and as expected, nobody up top seems to care. With such a class divide so apparent, I’m curious to see how our adventure will change as we progress throughout the city.
The combat, however, is where Gestalt: Steam and Cinder really shines. You’re easily able to roll, duck and slice your way through enemies, but don’t let get complacent. You have a stamina meter, and it’s easy to run out if you don’t plan your moves effectively. On the flip side, your enemies also have a stamina meter and, if that runs out thanks to you shooting bullets at them, they’ll be stunned. This can lead to some devastating combos, especially if you upgrade your attack damage.
Ultimately, Gestalt: Steam and Cinder is a game where badass women, an incredible world and intuitive combat reigns supreme. If that sounds like something you’d be interested in, then Gestalt: Steam and Cinder will release sometime this year on PC, Xbox One, PS4, and the Nintendo Switch. You’re able to access the demo now on Steam.