Next in the line of ‘Matt reviewing a reboot of a famous game series which he’s never played’ we have Strider, originally released as an arcade game in 1989 before making its way to a raft of home consoles. A reboot was originally planned back in 2009 by the studio Grin but the studio went bankrupt and the plug was later pulled by Capcom. Double Helix were later handed the reigns for a reboot by Capcom and was released in 2013 for PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, and PC. The finished product is what we’re reviewing here, just in time for its debut on PlayStation Plus.
For the uninitiated, Strider is a side scrolling action platformer in which you, playing as the eponymous hero, leaps across levels while slashing his sword through a variety on enemies and bosses along the way.To say the game is light on plot would be an understatement. After starting the game you’re shown a few seconds showing you paragliding into Kazakh City before landing and throwing you straight into the battle, deciding against wasting time on picky little details like plot or a tutorial to tell you what buttons you should be pressing. To emphasize how wafer-thin it is, Strider’s entire plot is delivered in three words at the top of the screen; “Assassinate Grandmaster Meio”.
Don’t worry about the latter of those two though, because for most of the time you’ll just be running, jumping and swiping through endless streams of enemies. Through the game you’ll add new techniques to your skill sets, such as a double jump and the early acquired slide move, but for the vast majority of the game you’ll just be swinging your sword and slicing through your opponents. Your sword is also upgraded throughout your journey, adding to it elemental damage from explosives and ice, plus the ability to use your sword to deflect enemy fire back at them.
Throughout the game you’ll meet bosses who we’re told are Meio’s loyal soldiers and their one goal is to stop you. Each boss fight is a case of needing to learn the patterns of their attacks and how best to avoid them, before swooping in during a narrow window and delivering as much damage as possible. These bosses can be frustrating when first encountered, indeed you may find yourself restarting them on more than one occasion, but once their individual weakness has been found it can be quickly exploited.
Despite not taxing a decent PC or the new consoles, Strider is mostly an attractive game, with bright and clearly defined characters and levels, plus the rock solid 60fps gameplay helps keep the action smooth and precise, always helpful when trying to make a pinpoint jump. Enemy characters can look somewhat repetitive, however I feel that the identikit enemies somewhat fit the Communist-inspired adversary theme. Some more variation in setting would have been pleasant to see, but the various locales of Kazack City do change in style and many levels can often take you through vastly differing environments, from city rooftops to underground train stations.
Strider harks back to earlier days of gaming, and it’s very easy to imagine yourself playing this in an arcade somewhere, hands clasped around a control stick. It shouldn’t be taken as criticism that the gameplay is simplistic, it’s a flashback to a mostly forgotten era of gaming. The short length is a source of disappointment though, and to emphasize the point there’s a trophy or achievement for completing the game in under 4 hours. Most would be advised to start the game on the harder difficulty. This isn’t to say the game is overly easy though, in fact even on a Normal playthrough you’ll come across more than one sizable spike in difficulty which can serve to frustrate, especially with somewhat inconsistent checkpoints.
Fans of retro action platforming titles will no doubt be happy with this remake, however Strider is probably less appealing to others. Strider is available on PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, and PC, but if you’re lucky enough to have picked up a PS4 already you’ll be able to download the game free of charge throughout July as part of your PlayStation Plus subscription.
MLG Rating: 6/10 Format: PlayStation 3 Release Date: 21/02/2014
Disclosure: Midlife Gamer were provided a digital copy of Strider by the publisher for review purposes. The title was reviewed over the course of two weeks on a PlayStation 4. For more information on what our scores mean, plus details of our reviews policy, click here.