The American firm Double Helix Games, which brought back the fighting game Killer Instinct last year, is reviving another legendary classic. Strider tells the narrative of Hiryu, a member of the titular cyber-assassin team, who is dispatched to the Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic to destroy the dictator governing there. He is compelled to combat other super-assassins hired by the wicked king to eliminate the threat along the way.
The gameplay concept is based on the traditional paradigm from the early games, such as Castlevania or Metroid Prime, in which we navigate across the platforms of a large area, cutting up every soldier we come across. A considerable level of flexibility allows you to search for secret corridors and secret chambers with several upgrades for our cyborg hero. Of course, the most significant passages are constrained by various forms of blockades that can only be removed by using a particular key, a blow, or triggering a switch in another area of the map. So we have a lot of space to cover in futuristic Kazakhstan, as well as hundreds of troops to sever with the Hiryu cyberblade. The places we visited were not very memorable. Kazakh metropolis is a futuristic metropolis with a rail train despite superior technology – it is a mix of typical communist architectural solutions with dozens of bright lights, wires, and displays portraying the face of the nation’s leader.
Despite the variety of individual locations – we visit museums, parks, affluent housing complexes, and even underground research centers – everything appears to be quite identical and uninteresting. The requirement to circle the map and return to previously blocked locations adds to the boredom. The city is an impenetrable backdrop – we may launch hundreds of attacks and everything will still glitter and dazzle with newness. However, this does not appear to be a major issue with the game because the pace of the game concentrates our attention solely on jumping and chopping up opponents in a million different ways – which turns out to be a lot of fun. Hiryu can only leap and wield his sword at first. We learn new skills, attacks, and enhancements as we continue and uncover new stages. Usually, a mini-boss arrives alongside a new move, when we learn how to employ a new item. A somewhat more difficult battle swiftly accustoms us to new things and pushes us to utilize them more frequently.
The lack of variation in the characters is unsettling. Only a few models alter in color and durability, but they are still the same cyber-soldiers and robots we saw in half at the start of the game. More significant bosses need understanding patterns of behavior and specific attacks, but they are essentially the “hide when he attacks and fight when his back is turned” paradigm. Surprisingly, when we are knocked to the ground by a heavy strike, we are still vulnerable to injury. This enraged me when, after losing a significant chunk of my life, my opponent took another portion of my life while I was lifeless on the floor. This does not happen every time, but it will almost certainly affect the result of the fight and compel you to load the game’s last save.
People who have finished the main adventure still have access to two other modes. The first asks us to survive waves of opponents and break time records, while the second challenges our dexterity. We are not frequently obliged to complete stages in the fastest possible time when exploring the basic edition of the game, so we can see how nimble a ninja Hiryu can be here. At this point, “sticking” the hero to any surface may be challenging, especially if we jump too high and end up hanging under the ceiling instead of continuing to sprint towards the predetermined place.
Returning to a platformer from years ago adds nothing new to the genre or gameplay, but that’s not always a negative thing in this case. The designers took a safe route and remembered what the original was known for. Strider is a quick and excellent platform game that can keep you engaged for hours by sprinting about the area and cutting cyber-communists into thin slices, despite its repetitive scenery and fairly fascinating plot.