Up Up Down Down: Strider
Strider is one of those rare franchises that hasn't been monetized to death. As such, the retro series is still veiled in mystique and allure. It makes sense, then, that longtime fans were so stoked when Capcom announced that it was rebooting the hack-and-slash gem for modern consoles, with Double Helix Games acting as the game's developer. The result was Strider, a fittingly titled reimagining that both does the series' legacy justice and carves a grand reputation of its own.
It's not entirely perfect, but 2014's Strider is a game that's totally fun to play, filled with nostalgia, and just plain badass.
Up Up: Hack-and-slash action is a blast
There's nothing overtly complex about Strider. The combat is fairly simple, but it's intensely satisfying. Carving your blade through dudes is always cool, and you can't help but feel like an empowered messenger of death as you slice your way through entire armies of gun-toting foes. Little nuances such as the platforming and climbing mechanics help add some nice pauses in the action, and the game's map always points you in the right direction so you're never stuck, making for a blissfully free-flowing adventure.
Down Down: Not as fleshed out as it could've been
Variety isn't exactly a staple of hack-and-slash titles, and Strider is no exception. Enemies are especially repetitive, and throughout the course of your mission, you come across the same bad guys over and over again. Additionally, while you do have access to some neat unlockable moves, you don't use them all very often, which feels like a bit of a missed opportunity to take advantage of a handful of great skills.
Up Up: Dystopian setting is rad
It's quite amusing seeing how video games depict the future. The dystopian setting in Strider isn't necessarily original, but it does craft a world that's completely hopeless. It gives you a sense that you're fighting for something, and that every bad guy you cut in half is one step closer to throwing down the harsh dictatorship that rules Kazakh City. Admittedly, playing through Strider reminded me of watching cyberpunk movies from the '80s and '90s.
Down Down: Graphics are nice but there's little variety
Complimenting the futuristic world of Strider is a clean graphics engine. This is definitely a nice game to look at, though like its gameplay, the visual design lacks variety. That's not exactly a bad thing considering everything still looks good, but seeing the same types of indoor and outdoor environments repeatedly might make you wish the levels changed things up just a tad more.
Up Up: Controls are perfect
You just know when a game controls perfectly. Strider is one of those games — guiding the titular hero through the desperate dystopian land feels absolutely incredibly. Horizontal movement is completely responsive, climbing up walls is fluid, and jump controls are tight. Had Strider suffered from poor controls, the whole thing could've been a total disaster. Instead, Double Helix provided an intuitive control scheme and stellar responsiveness, thus making the game a sheer joy to play.
Down Down: You can finish it in under three hours
Strider is hell of a lot of fun. That's why it's a bit disappointing that it's over so soon. One of the game's achievements rewards you for finishing the main campaign in three hours, but even if you don't go for that goal, you can very well get to the end in five hours. That's not too short for a hack-and-slash game, but Strider is so elegantly made and so awesomely stylish that an extra two hours or so wouldn't have hurt. Beacon Run and Survival Mode certainly help, but they serve more as distractions for leaderboard chasers.
Left Right Left Right: Strider is back! Aw, yeah!
Even in an industry that thrives on sequel after sequel and reboot after reboot, it's cool to see the return of a beloved series like Strider. It's been a long time coming, but considering the series has been dormant for so long, it's a nice comeback. Strider is an absolutely entertaining hack-and-slash affair that's sure to put smiles on the faces of nostalgic longtime fans and curious newcomers alike. It's a little bit short and lacks variety in multiple spots, but even then, it's hard to deny the fact that this game is a great ride through a bleak futuristic city.
More importantly, it's arguably Strider at its very best.
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