In an era of left trigger right trigger dude bro shooters, STRAFE is a much needed breath of fresh 1996 air. Unlike most indie “retro inspired” games desperately flooding Steam and are all style and no substance, developer Pixel Titans has managed to create something that feels new but also reminds us of the golden era when PC shooters were about metal, blood, and getting stuck looking for elevators.
Before we get into the nitty and gritty, let’s take a moment to talk about why STRAFE‘s “straight out of the 90’s extremeness” is so interesting and, for lack of a better word, refreshing. While its aesthetics aren’t going to be breaking any ground this decade, STRAFE plays and operates exactly how you remember classic shooters and not how they actually played. In an odd way and without sound too up my own ass, Developer Pixel Titans is not only selling you a fun roguelite game full of gore and ass kicking chaos, but also the emotions you had when playing Unreal Tournament or Quake back when the internet had rad intro music and marketing was a little simpler.
At times STRAFE on the PS4 played a bit rough in the current early console build I was demoing at PSX, but even without aim assist and other mechanics needed to translate well from mouse/keyboard to a controller, the game felt incredibly rewarding and fun. Every gun has a second action to it and unlike most “roguelikes” you don’t need to run to your corpse after dying in a shower of blood. When you kill enemies they stay lying in a pool of blood, shells, and other bits and pieces which help you navigate the map and act as a marker of sorts for a room you’ve already visited, which helps make up for lack of a map. The HUD is simple and the objective clear. Each weapon has an alternate firing mode and some even turn into melee weapons after ammo depletion, and eventually you have the option to purchase upgrades to make an even bigger mess of the maps.
STRAFE looks and plays exactly like you remember the classic shooters of the late 90s early 2000s but with enough modern love to make it appeal to gamers of all ages and controller preferences. It’s definitely one to keep a close eye on … if you’re a bad enough dude for it.
STRAFE comes to the PS4/PC/Mac sometime early 2017