Strider (Available on PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, and Xbox One)
ESRB Rating: E10+
Number of Players: 1
Developer: Double Helix Games & Capcom Osaka Studio
Release Date: February 18th, 2014
Parent Talk: The ESRB Rates Strider E10+, for all those over ten years old. The content warning is for mild language and blood, and fantasy violence. The violence is much like the 1989 arcade game, fast and frantic, without being realistic. While players are cutting down everything in their way, there is very little in the way of blood. I’d say that almost anyone could play this game given the mild tone.
Plays Like: Players take on the role of Strider Hiryu, a ninja assassin like no other. With his Cypher (wicked looking sword), he chops down absolutely everything in his path. Unlike the previous games in the series, which were primarily level-based, this new reimagining plays like a Metroidvania game, where new items unlock previously inaccessible areas. Thankfully the action remains completely 2D so longtime fans of the series should have a lot to look forward to here.
Review Basis: I played through the PlayStation 4 version of the game, and had a real blast doing so.
Above all else what I enjoyed most about Strider was the fact that it’s always fun to play. Did you enjoy the 2D Metroid series? Did you love Castlevania: Symphony of the Night or the other Metroidvania Castlevania games? Were you a fan of Shadow Complex and Guacamelee? If you answered yes to any of those questions, you will absolutely adore Strider. By infusing rich and classic arcade action with Metroidvania-style gameplay, Strider has reached new levels of awesome. Not only do you get more powerful by finding new Cypher enhancements, but if you explore enough you can also find energy tanks, which allow you to use your option attacks more frequently. There are also rejuvenation and health tanks to find as well. Eventually Strider will be the ultimate bad ass, able to reflect enemy projectiles, call forth three option attacks (panther, droid, and hawk), and scale even the largest obstacle.
+ Superb controls. At no point does Strider ever feel loose, which is important as he scales the side of a building or comes sliding through an open grate. He’s always responsive, and pulling off a dazzling array of special attacks is only a few button presses away.
+ The Cypher can now be upgraded. As you progress Strider will learn the ability to freeze his enemies, repel incoming projectiles and so much more. What I thoroughly enjoyed was that Strider’s famous scarf, or in this version his plasma trail, will turn a different color based on which Cypher you have equipped. It’s a nice touch.
+ Color system works great for both combat. Certain enemies will have yellow, red, or purples shields, which tells you which Cypher you need to switch to in order to take them down. Certain enemies are only weak to one Cypher, and switching back and forth is done by a simply tap of the d-pad.
+ Classic Metroid-inspiredmap system. The map is extremely detailed, allowing you to see where upgrades are located, which Cypher is required to open colored doors, etc.
+ Unlockable extra modes are a blast to play through. These might include racing through certain areas as quickly as possible, or sometimes something a little more violent.
+ The perfect download title. Weighing in at around six hours or so, give or take based on how much you explore, Strider is a wonderful reimagining of an arcade classic.
+ Excellent graphics. The game may take place in one giant environment, but the characters, animation, and level of detail is excellent for a digital-only release. Strider himself looks fantastic, and while I would have liked to have seen a little more color, I like how Strider and the bosses contrast so well with the backgrounds.
+ The soundtrack and sound effects are also very impressive. The music can be rip-roaring when the action cranks up, and the Cypher sounds as powerful as it should as you swing it around in front of you. The voice acting is fairly decent, although a few characters are a little cringe-worthy.
+/- There are some repeated level design elements that can make exploration a little off-putting because you might think you’re in one area, when you’re actually somewhere completely different. A little more variety in the environments would have been appreciated.
If you’ve got $15 and are looking for a great way to spend some time over the weekend, look no further than Strider. It’s an excellent reboot which should appeal to longtime fans and newcomers alike. The nice mix between action and exploration feels like a natural fit for the series, and I can only hope this is only the beginning of a brand new series of Strider games. Go download this one right now!
Final Score: 8.8/10