Long ago, back in 1989, Capcom released a much beloved action arcade game known as Strider. It quickly gathered popularity and critcal acclaim and still remains talked about today, which brings us to today; Double Fine Studios has reworked the original Strider into the form of a Metroidvania game and while it is an absolute blast to play, it is sadly lacking elsewhere.
While the graphics have now rendered the characters in 3D, the world still remains very much a 2-Dimensional path and this allows for a great deal of action very similar to the original Strider games. At the start of the game, Hiryu is armed with only a cypher which easily dispatches a fair majority of the enemies you run into almost immediately by slicing through them. This essentially does limit the first level to button-mashing while running forward but, gradually you start unlocking more abilities which offers a healthy amount of variation to keep the game interesting. These abilties can also offer up a way of going off the beaten track to find hidden unlockables such as concept art, health upgrades, enemy intel and more which offers a deeper level of exploration in an otherwise fairly linear game.
Personally, I really enjoyed Strider’s gameplay. It reminded me of a time when games were simply focussed on having great gameplay and not getting distracted with anything else and because of this aspect, I feel it will appeal to any gamer who still digs out their NES every now and then to experience some of the old Castlevania games. One of the highlights of this game are the boss battles which I personally believe have been lacking in too many games nowadays. But here, the boss fights are frequent and they offer a fair challenge, particularly when playing on hard. However the challenge is balanced enough so that it’s not too hard to the point of frustrating. Make no mistake, this an entertaining game.
However, as I said before, this is a game that’s key focus is gameplay and whilst that’s generally a good thing, the rest of the game does lack a bit of fine tuning. The graphics while playing the game are great, the frame-rate keeps up with the action with no signs of lag, however during cut-scenes it was somewhat annoying that a character would talk without their mouth moving. Similarly, the story does little to engage with the player. A Russian dictator knows as The Grandmaster is ruling the world with an iron fist and as Hiryu, it’s up to you to stop it. That’s it. That’s the entire story right there. An old school game is great but its moments like these which just leave you wanting a little bit more. I didn’t really have a gripe with the sound it got the job done, however, some of the voice acting could have been improved.
All in all, Strider is a game for old school gamers. This is a game that will challenge you again and again while keeping a smile on your face. It’s certainly not the best looking game and it’s far from being the best written game but Strider is the single most fun experience I’ve had on the PS4 to date and I would recommend it to any old school gamer on gameplay alone.
Strider is a game that's all about the gameplay and while that is great in many ways, it has its downsides too.