The only flesh that really matters in Stellar Blade is the Naytiba

The Naytiba designs are what really sets Stellar Blade apart.
Naytiba named Abaddon, from Stellar Blade

It goes without saying that as Stellar Blade’s protagonist EVE decimates Naytiba after Naytiba in her fight to rescue the world, her body is extremely curvaceous, subject to its own inconsistent physics laws, and very much on display.

This question of ‘flesh shown’ versus ‘flesh hidden’ has dominated online circles, fuelling controversial discourse, and creating a noticeable divide that has continued well after the game’s release on 26 April. I still think about this game on a daily basis, but honestly, I believe we’re focusing on the wrong thing.

Sure, EVE’s body has a gravitational pull of its own making, and if you elect to put her in the skin suit, she can look quite salacious for no good story reason. But players can find appropriate attire as the game goes on, with tracksuits and even jeans all appearing as wearable options if you find them on your travels. EVE’s flesh can be covered with relative ease, quashing concerns of indecency.

Hers is not the flesh we should focus on. No, no. The flesh we should focus on comes to us from a different, meatier source: the alien Naytiba.

Read: Stellar Blade Review – Flesh, flash and fierce foes

Monster design at its meatiest

Far and away the best part of Stellar Blade is the selection of alien creatures you face down. The Naytiba are a visually striking enemy, with gruesome body horror elements that ooze appeal (sometimes literally). These fleshy, fearsome foes took my rating from a 3/5 to a 4/5 – and I will continue to shout about them from the rooftops.

With a surprisingly varied array of forms, some Naytiba feel reminiscent of classic forms from other games – with creatures emulating everything from Dead Space‘s necromorphs through to Mass Effect‘s geth.

Yet there’s something about them that feels distinct. Even though there are so many mutations, they all feel like they convey the same energy – something that begins to make more sense as the game unfolds.

In my review of the game’s demo, I made note of specific Naytibas that caught my eye:

“Slenderman-esque ‘Crickets’ and evil starfish-looking ‘Hydras’ wander the streets, while bigger bosses are towering and dangerous, with cavernous maws of sharpened teeth. There’s even one whose vertical mouth spins teeth like a chainsaw, whipping around their head in a flesh-tearing frenzy.”

That Hydra was one of the first moments where I could feel my jaw literally dropping. It emerges early in the game, with an ominous swimming motion that feels far less like the Finding Nemo “today’s the day, the tank is clean!” type starfish, and much more like an “each of my five limbs is designed to tear you to shreds” type starfish.

But nothing – nothing – compares to the big, meaty bosses. Take Abaddon, the demo’s boss, for instance. I’ll refrain from including my initial metaphor for how it looks (it’s too indecent, even for this flesh-themed article) but instead let it be said that Abaddon looks like the aftermath of a zipper catastrophe, with two prominent horns that almost feel like flesh antennae.

Read: Stellar Blade demo – A surprising romp of precision and ponytails

That’s MISTER rotating tyre of teeth to you

Alpha Naytiba Stellar Blade
Image: Shift Up Corporation / Sony Interactive Entertainment

I’d like to take a moment here to talk about my other best friend: Gigas. This beast is the first Alpha Naytiba you encounter, and his head is made out of a rotating tyre of teeth. Yep, that’s his skull. Chainsaw Head guy has nothing on Gigas – we’re talking a full 360 degree range of sharp, spinning spikes.

As someone who has a love for the freakiest looking monsters (which we shan’t be unpacking today), Gigas immediately captured my interest. He’s not the hardest fight – not by a long shot – but he’s chunky and hits as heavy, as you’d expect for a Naytiba of his stature.

From the moment I faced down Gigas, he became my point of reference. Every Naytiba from then on had to live up to his glorious standard, and I found myself routinely saying, “it’s cool, but… it’s not Gigas cool”.

I’m not saying this as a “hear me out,” though I do respect that there are probably a lot of players out there who would. But what I will say, is this is the level of grotesque monster design that captures attention. The Naytiba, on the whole, pull focus as soon as they creep on-screen.

Longer, more intense battles maintained my interest because of how engrossed I was by the look and feel of these creatures – and that’s an underrated element, especially in Soulslike games where you’re inevitably going to face down these bosses repeatedly until you nail their patterns.

It’s refreshing to see how well Stellar Blade maintains gruesome consistency in the way each Naytiba feels complementary to the rest, despite wildly different forms and features. Though few will compare to a fleshy beast with a rotating tyre of teeth for a head, I’m glad to see a return to this grotesque, body horror type enemy. Long live the era of the freak.

Steph Panecasio is the Managing Editor of GamesHub. An award-winning culture and games journalist with an interest in all things spooky, she knows a lot about death but not enough about keeping her plants alive. Find her on all platforms as @StephPanecasio for ramblings about Lord of the Rings and her current WIP novel.