Strider (2014) Review

Strider

Alright, here is a game for fans of old school platforming. Strider is a reboot of the long dormant, but not forgotten Strider games first found in arcades back in 1989. Main protagonist Strider Hiryu is a ninja who works for the Strider organization, tasked to assassinate Grandmaster Meio. Strider is a good platformer, but a few things hold it back from greatness. Often stylish and fast, Strider still slows itself down with its level design and frustrating segments.

As most side-scrolling platformers often do, Strider has a pretty straight forward story. Don’t expect emmy winning performances or a gripping tale about light versus evil, but that isn’t what Strider is about. Despite the bland story, Strider still manages to be a pretty solid game thanks to its fast paced gameplay. The character’s mouths may not move during cut-scenes, but you’ll always be moving at a good speed controlling Hiryu. The only time you’ll find yourself stopping, is when you check your map to see where you’ll be dashing to next. Most enemies die quickly after a few slashes, but some enemies will provide a challenge to takedown. New enemies are thrown at you at a steady speed and will either take a few extra seconds to eliminate or do a ton of damage.

Strider keeps the player moving from room to room, but it is kind of a shame the rooms don’t look to inspiring. The art style is really good, especially the bright colors used in the game’s weaponry. However, the backgrounds to the places you visit as Strider Hiryu are just common environments. The world itself is very mundane, and you have no desire to explore it. Maybe if the environments were more varied and interesting, the desire to search for hidden power-ups and secrets would be there. Even though you’ll unlock Strider’s main weapons just by advancing in its story, you’ll need to search for health, energy and other miscellaneous upgrades. You start off with a quarter of your energy and health bar, so you’ll definitely need to find at least a few upgrades if you want to avoid a ton of frustration towards the end of the game. Thankfully, Strider’s world is pretty open, even though it isn’t much fun to explore. Instead of feeling like a connected world as it should, the world feels divided into segments. Everything is tampered off into pieces, and upgrades allow you to visit new areas, but it never feels like a connected world.

Strider gameplay

Strider Hiryu has a few options to deal with his foes, but those options don’t fully open up until the second half of the game. You’ll start with only a blade, but by the end of the adventure, you’ll find yourself with a small arsenal of  kunai, different types of blades and robot companions to aid you. Granted, the kunai are pretty ineffective, but most of the tools you have are useful in battle. Strider has to switch between those tools to deal with various opponents, and at times, you can’t switch to the weapon you need before taking a noticeable amount of damage. Some enemies require a certain attack to take them out, but despite Strider’s responsive controls, you still don’t have enough time to switch to the item you need. This is where one of Strider’s flaws shows itself. Strider is often unfair in its level design because of a few small rooms with multiple enemies that require a certain attack to take them out. For example, certain enemies with shields can only be killed by a charged slash. Others have shields that can only be taken out by a certain type of blade, whether it be the explosive version, ice version or etc. But you have to manually switch between blades via the dpad. This sounds simple enough, but switching between types at a moments notice is pretty difficult, and the damage you take as a result of your human limitations could be the difference between life or death.

The line between difficult and frustrating is a thin one.

The line between difficult and frustrating is a thin one.

Despite the small qualm of switching between your blades, Strider goes through a lot of difficulty spikes. Just as you get used to the difficulty, it throws you into a tough room or boss fight. Now, I’m cool with games getting more difficult as you progress, but the difficulty increases came out of nowhere, then the game went back to its regular setting. The game keep shifting between its regular difficulty and its unfair difficulty. Instead of a steady difficulty, it felt like the settings kept switching from normal to hardcore. Boss fights are no exception to the rule either. Early boss fights were simple, then one in particular was extremely frustration, then got simple again, then once again got unreasonably difficult.  Again, Strider seems unable to decide if it wants to be a platformer that is easy to breeze through, or mind-numbingly hard.

Just as its main character, Strider is a mixed bag of tricks. At its core, Strider is pretty solid, but besides the fundamentals, Strider has nothing truly marvelous about it. Strider has good gameplay mechanics, great graphics and is ultimately a fun fast paced game. But it doesn’t capitalize on those assets, thanks to difficulty spikes and its a ho-hum world; leaving it to being reduced to a standard side-scrolling platformer.

Overall: 6.75 out of 10

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One thought on “Strider (2014) Review

  1. Pingback: CBN’s 2014 Review Round-up | Classic But New

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