Strider returns with kinetic combat and compelling exploration
Right from square one, the new Strider is a fast-paced, kinetic game. Between Strider’s trademark ninja animations, great sound effects, and tight controls, it’s almost impossible to avoid running full speed at enemies, leaping over their bullets, and tossing them up into the air for a quick juggle combo. Standing still just doesn’t feel like a valid option.
That constant feeling of momentum was something the team at Capcom and Double Helix felt was a key element to carry over from the older games. “You’re always moving, you’re always tearing through guys, you’re jumping and climbing all over the place,” Tristan Corbett, Strategic Marketing Coordinator at Capcom, explained to me at their NYCC booth. “The freedom of movement and the ability to tear through guys super quick was something that they really liked about the classic Strider experience.”
Beyond that, the game diverges quite a bit from the straightforward, level-based action of previous Strider games. The environment is an open, exploratory world closer to Super Metroid and Castlevania than an arcade game. It will offer a fast travel system for getting around, but the player will have to unlock abilities that will open up new pathways in places they’ve already visited.
In the demo, the concept was displayed in a more rapid-fire manner than the final game would have, but it gave me a good idea of what they’re going for. The sense I got was Strider at heart, with a Shadow Complex inspiration running through the design. I can already imagine losing many hours trying to find all the hidden areas in the game.
The presentation, from the graphics to the sound effects, was already incredibly polished. The visuals are sharp and stylized in a way that informs that fast-paced action. Gusts of wind and snow blast through the outdoor environments, while indoor scenes glow with neon lights against dark shadows. The sound effects have an appropriate level of arcade-style bass to them as well, and I appreciated the intensity of Strider’s sword slashes. In addition, Corbett told me that the final game will have remixed versions of original tracks from the older games.
Capcom has experimented with handing off their game series’ to Western studios with mixed results, and they’re trying again with Double Helix. That said, Corbett assured me that Capcom is overseeing the project with careful eyes. “We brought in some old school guys who worked on the original Strider,” he said. “We have the art director from the original Strider game, as well as, I believe, the guy who did all the keyframe animation for Strider in Marvel. The title itself is in really safe hands, it’s a brand we haven’t touched in 14 years, so we don’t take what we’re doing very lightly.”
That care is apparent in the game so far, and Double Helix is indeed doing a great job. The demo offered up some really fun combat, a taste of the Metroid-vania-style exploration, and it culminated in an epic boss battle on a giant snake.
The final game will be a digital download arriving early next year for $14.99 on PS3, Xbox 360, PC, PS4, and Xbox One. Corbett told me to expect native 1080p, 60 fps, as well as richer lighting and particle effects on the next-gen version of the game, but couldn’t say whether the game would take advantage of the new consoles’ more advanced features. Either way, the game is shaping up to be a great addition to the series, and is something fans of 2D action-adventures should be paying attention to.
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