Strider Review – Plasma Scarves and Robo-Panthers

HD reboots are a common species these day, yielding varied results. Oftentimes it seems that developers focus on trying to modernize the wrong parts of the game. Developer Double Helix has however focused all their energy into perfecting this Capcom classic in all the best ways. Strider takes the already strong mechanics from the original while also changing the overall format for the better.

My favorite thing about Strider is the increasing sense of mobility, power, and the speed at which you can swing his sword, which is literally as fast as you can tap the button. Throughout the 4-6 hour campaign, you will earn four different cypher types, which allows Strider to switch elements on his plasma sword. This makes for some fun battles against enemies with varying shield types. You’ll need to swap powers a lot, and it all happens so quickly and fluidly.

Strider Jump

Jumping around as Hiryu is extremely responsive and fluid.

Strider’s story is the most underwhelming part of the game, but it didn’t detract from my experience. You play as a Strider Hiryu as you work towards taking down Grandmaster Meio, the leader of Kazakh City in this oppressive dystopian future. That about sums it up, and you’ll be meeting various villains along the way, before you inevitably slice each of them up into pieces. Each time you encounter a new enemy, you’ll fight them as almost a mini boss, and then you’ll start seeing them in the environment as regular enemies. I never got sick of what I was fighting against, between humanoids, robots, and bug-like enemies.

I love what they’ve done with the format; the 2D Metroid-style map fits in well as you earn different plasma types and mobile abilities, allowing you to backtrack and explore areas that were previously locked. This triggered the hunger for me to find all the items and upgrades as I went through the campaign. Speaking of abilities, the animal-style powers are awesome, my favorite being a freaking robo-panther.

Strider can deploy his robo panther to attack the baddies.

Strider can deploy his robo-panther to attack the baddies.

This is a fantastic looking game, Double Helix clearly spent time putting lots of love into this Capcom fan favorite. Whether it’s the particle effects when sparks fly off a sword and shield meeting one another, or the blur effects from the various gravity-defying devices spread around Kazakh City, there’s always something nice to look at on screen. I can only speak for the Xbox One version, but it runs silky smooth the entire way through.

The experience is really rounded off when you add in the impressive audio, my favorite being the loud crack of Strider’s dash ability. All the cypher types have awesome little nuances in the sound that distinguishes them from one another. Even the pickaxe thingy that he uses to climb has a nice ‘ping!’ to it. The voiceover work is nothing to write home about, but you won’t be paying much attention to the dialogue anyway, you’re playing this game because it’s fun to control.

Strider jumps and flips around with ease, and that’s what makes this game so fun. By the time you’ve earned all his powers, you’ll feel like a total badass zipping around the map. But it’s not all perfect, I found myself a little frustrated when I was trying to find 100% of the items before completing the game. There’s no great fast travel system in place, so you’ll do a lot of running around between areas to search.

Strider's plasma "scarf" changes colors according to the cypher type.

Strider’s plasma “scarf” changes colors according to the cypher type.

Fighting enemies is so damn satisfying, between the speed at which Strider can swing his sword, constantly swapping cyphers, flipping and dashing through the air, and tossing out his animal-powered abilities. It’s such a great remake of a game that I personally have no nostalgia for. Strider is the perfect example of how to take an old formula and perfect it with modern technology. It looks and sounds like a AAA title, but it plays like an old classic with fine-tuned controls. I have very few negative things to say about it, and I don’t know why it’s seemingly flying under the radar right now.

I played the Xbox One version, but it’s also available for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, and Steam (PC). Go buy Strider right now, it’s so damn fun.

[Final Breakdown]

[+Fluid controls][+Top notch visuals/audio][+Metroid-vania style exploring works well][+Combat is fun the whole way through][+Cool abilities and upgrades][+Robo-panthers][-Unexciting story][-Navigation can be confusing]

Superb Review Score


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