Article by contributor Larry Scotti.
Strider Hiryu is back, and has sliced and diced his way back to our new generation of consoles. If you’re new to video games in general, the name Strider Hiryu may not ring any bells, and rightfully so. The last installment in the Strider series was in 2000 on the Playstation, titled Strider 2. Many did speculate on why there wasn’t any news on a new Strider game for over ten years. Finally, the wait is over for a new installment, and it’s great.
This is a beautiful game, no doubt. The depth of the snowy Soviet Kazakh City is impressive, and the darkness contrasted with the futuristic crazy-scientist laboratories creates a great backdrop. From Strider’s badass pose, to his always flowing futuristic plasma scarf, he looks as sleek as ever. Note that I played this game on the Playstation 4, so if you intend on grabbing this for the Xbox 360 or PS3, it may not stack up graphically to what I am reviewing. The level design is solid, creating a desire to search every crack for hidden story art or other hidden upgrades. The nimbleness of Strider when in the air makes for interesting platforming, and the moments of moving Strider back in forth while in the air are entertainingly funny. The checkpoints are a bit of a problem, as they are spaced out very far in between levels. When putting down the controller, you may question when the game last saved in order to not have to replay parts of a level, like I did a few times. Be weary of this in your playthrough.
“The level design is solid, creating a desire to search every crack for…hidden upgrades.”
The first thing you will notice when playing Strider is the tight and responsive control scheme. A fast-paced side-scroller such as this demands attention so that quick adjustments can be made while trying to deflect an enemy bullet, or charge your blade to slice through an enemy shield. It all feels so smooth, and the gracefulness of Strider’s movement makes the blur of cutting straight through enemies a breeze. The quick pace of the game can keep you locked in, but the lack of a solid story line creates friction that can take you out of the experience.
Throughout the game, Strider obtains new upgrades to his blade, the “Cypher,” plus other new moves and items that help him along his journey. Strider can be completed in 6-8 hours, which is fine for a downloadable only title. The upgrades are spaced across the game just enough to feel excited when attaining a new one, and the game does a good job of making you adapt to your new moves and abilities on the fly, in a Metroid-like fashion.
I only have two real complaints about Strider. One is the boss fights. Sure, killing a futuristic dragon in the sky sounds cool in theory, but performing the same moves over and over to defeat it doesn’t feel too rewarding. The other one, which is even harder to ignore, is the story, or the lack thereof. The game drops you into Soviet Russia of the future, but it really doesn’t explain much else, and opting to skip every cut scene is something the game developers have facilitated. The goofy voice acting doesn’t help this cause either, and Strider’s voice isn’t what I imagined. If you are the type of person who likes to binge play video games, the story is what might pull you out of the experience.
“If you are the type of person who likes to binge play video games, the story is what might pull you out of the experience.”
Overall though, this is a solid title. For only $15, you get a super fast unique game that’s easy to jump right into and play. Developers Double Helix (responsible for Xbox One’s free-to-play fighter Killer Instinct) have created a reboot that is worth playing.