Developer: Double Helix Games
Release Date: February 18th, 2014
Available on: PC, Playstation 3, Playstation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One
Reviewer’s note: I played this game on the Playstation 4. There may be differences between versions.
Confession: I’ve never played the original Striders. They were before my time, coming out a couple of years before I was even born. To my understanding the arcade game was a very stylish 2d action platformer. Now we’re looking at a reboot and I’m happy to say that Strider is a very well done entry into the metroidvania genre of games.
The game drops you into the world with pretty much no background in any way, shape, or form. The basic gist of the story is that Strider Hiryu is the best assassin of his organization. As such they send him to kill Grandmaster Meio because… he’s evil I guess. That’s really about it as far as the plot goes. While there were a few times that I wish the plot played a slightly bigger role, it’s nice to just not have to think about something for a little while. That said, you can tell they didn’t much care for the cutscenes or plot when they flat out don’t animate the character’s mouths moving when they talk. Even when they zoom in on their face. It’s pretty humorous. I feel like I should bring up the voice acting real quick and flat out say it’s atrocious. I can’t tell if the game is going for a campy vibe or not due to it’s lack of much of a plot around the characters, but it makes everyone seem really really silly.
Thankfully the game has some great gameplay to help it. Controlling Strider is extremely easy and really fun. At the start of the game Strider can already climb on any wall or the ceiling. By the end you’ll be able to slide through vents, smash floor underneath you, deflect lasers, and more. The game is smart, giving you upgrades at a steady pace. You’ll be earning new stuff even really late into the game, so there’s always places for you to explore. Strider only has two attack buttons: square makes him slash and triangle has him do an uppercut to knock enemies into the air. This may make combat sound boring, but this isn’t a game about chaining together long combos. Instead you’ll be jumping, sliding, and maneuvering around your opponents to avoid attacks and get openings to hit back.
While the regular enemies aren’t very smart, the game constantly throws boss fights at you to keep you on your toes. In the 6 or so hours it took me to finish Strider I think I must have fought about 30 bosses. This is a good thing though, each boss fight is new and unique, adding fun elements to the game. One boss has you juggling three unique enemies, jumping around in diagonal patterns to dive kick you. Another has you running along it’s surface, jumping to avoid electric attacks while attacking downwards to hit it. Each fight is different and fun, and it makes the bosses all worth experiencing. The only real downside I had to the combat system comes in the form of the four blades. You don’t really get your second blade until about halfway through the game, and the last blade doesn’t even show up until shortly before the last boss. Also the ice blade is almost hilariously over powered, letting you freeze your enemies with little effort and easily take them out. Also the last 30 minutes of the game become extremely combat focused, ditching the exploration that helped out the rest game.
A lot of the fun from Strider will come from exploring the environments. By utilizing Strider’s growing abilities you can find a ton of stuff. From health and weapon upgrades to concept art, there’s plenty to unlock just by exploring your environment. Every upgrade will find use in some way, and you’ll never find yourself without something that will make you want to revisit past areas. It’s a bit of a pain that there’s no fast travel system of any kind, so you’re going to be running around the world a lot. It’s also a pain that the game isn’t one big area and is instead separated into several smaller areas. Overall though, I found exploration to be well worth my time and had fun looking for as many different objects as I could.
Strider is another successful reboot. I may not have played the past games for experience, but I enjoyed my time with Strider. I’d highly recommend this to anyone looking for a good Metroidvania styled game to pass the time, or anyone just looking for some fun in general.