Date Released: February 18th, 2014
Developer: Double Helix Games & Capcom Osaka Studio
Platform: [Reviewed: Xbox One], PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC
Rated: 10+ for Ages 10 and Up
Growing up in the 1990’s and having my interest in video games reach a crux in the early 2000’s I never heard of or knew Strider even existed until later on in my life. Looking back on the history of this awesome character I’m surprised that Capcom never made more games centering on Strider Hiryu! But now Strider has returned on modern consoles after a 14 year hiatus and I finally get to play for myself without no previous experience or expectations. To say the least, my time with Strider has turned me into a fan and will find new audiences with newcomers like me and enthusiast of the past entries alike.
Strider is a retelling of the original arcade Strider game where the Grandmaster Meio, a vicious dictator, claims dominion over the world. Hiryu, he youngest and best Special-A Class member of an organization of high-tech ninja-like mercenaries known as “Striders”, is tasked with ending Grandmaster Meio’s reign of tyranny and is sent to the Russian metropolis of Kazakh City.
Diving right into the fray, players will quickly familiarize themselves with the tight controls and fast-paced action of the game. Encounters with a few grunts ease the player in as they can mess with jumping, climbing, and using Hiryu’s main weapon, his Cypher “Falchion”, a tonfa-like blade weapon that generates high-voltage plasma that can slice through nearly anything. With this weapon Hiryu can cleave straight though enemies almost effortlessly; the more you get into the groove of things the easier it becomes to navigate, avoid, and evade enemy attacks.
Players will feel empowered taking out platoons of enemies without a scratch by using your own skills and not having to rely on button prompts. When you do something as awesome as rushing towards a crowd of foes, sliding into them as you slice them in half, avoid the last guy’s gunfire, and jump over him as you tear him in half is nothing short of satisfying. As you advance though the game you will notice an excellent stride the game possesses with its pacing. Every new ability or upgrade that you add to your repertoire is obtained evenly enough to get that steady balance of avatar strength and enemy difficulty. But some players may find normal difficulty a bit too easy and may want to start with hard instead.
As you progress through the game you will traverse a Metroid-like map that is actually broken up into smaller yet still large sections. Each area is filled with hidden collectables, alternate costumes, upgrades, and blocked pathways that require you to return until you obtain the right skill needed to open them. Included is a mini-map that shows your current location; exploring a new location will unveil the room layout on you map the more you advance through. This can in turn help zero out possible hidden locations to upgrades, and collectibles. What can be tedious is if you want all of the collectibles then you will do a fair bit of back tracking to do so.
Along with traversing on foot there are plenty of areas that need players to scale up walls and ceilings to reach higher platforms. Certain segments will have player avoiding hazards to keep even the platforming challenging. Later on, the game throws some curveballs with gravity-based challenges where you’ll need to hop from one gravity sphere to the next, making sure that you jump into the next ones gravity field.
Just by looking at Strider Hiryu you know he’s a bona-fide badass. Everything he does is just awesome: from running to flipping over enemies and off walls, he just screams badass. Even when he just stands still with his arms crossed and his plasma scarf flowing with the wind is too much cool to handle! The locations you visit range from the inside of the heavily oppressed walls of Kazakh to abandoned train stations beneath the city to underground caverns filled.
All of that, including the impressive backgrounds, are beautifully detailed. I will note that if you have the option, get Strider for the Xbox One, PlayStation 4, or PC. The last gen versions are identical in every way, except for slightly lower visual fidelity, but regardless, you shouldn’t let something so trivial keep you from this game.
I’ve talked about how a lot of games have tight controls and whatnot, but not this game – it controls like butter. Every action you do has an uncanny elegance to it that it can only be fully comprehended if you can imagine a dazzling figure skater performing a flawless routine while swinging blades that seems to slice the very air around her.
You’ll have you standard jump and attack which is simple enough, and even when you gain more and more abilities it is never a hassle to remember simple button combos or switching between different plasma types for your Cypher. Lastly, the most notable aspect of the controls is the basic attack; depending on how fast you press that attack button Strider can strike as fast or as slow as you want. I highly commend the developers for this because I can’t tell you how useful this really is, especially during boss fights where we were neck-in-neck health-wise, and I’m pressing the button so fast that Hiryu became a tornado of death and insured my victory.
I simply had no clue what I was getting into when I first started up Strider. When I finally put down my controller after completing the 8 hour campaign, I wanted to play it all over again and proclaimed myself a Strider fan. Besides some minute nitpicks like the backtracking and the basic story, none of those aspects spoil the quintessential joy you will experience with the smooth gameplay, ideal pacing, fun boss fights, and excellent level design. Strider is a must-own for anyone that enjoys the series or fantastic action games.
Overall Rating: 4.75/5