Posted: February 25
Strider stands as a reboot to an old Arcade series by the same name. The game stars Hiryu, the last remaining Strider to be sent on a suicide mission that involves taking down Grandmaster Meio, the iron fisted ruler of Kazakh City and the Earth and avenging the fallen Striders.
The game's mechanics are pretty simple, like an old school title should. It's structured very similarly to some older games like Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, Super Metroid and the such as it has a lot of backtracking as well as you gain new powers to unlock new doors and the such - which may lead to new powers, health upgrades, energy upgrades, kunai upgrades, etc. There's lots to find in the game.
It's a standard Action Platformer, Strider can jump and he can cling to walls to get to higher places. It's a very vertical oriented game and you will need to explore literally every nook and cranny if you want to find every collectible. As you gain new powers, such as the Double Jump, or the Blast Cannon later on in the game, you gain more mobility and ways to go about exploring.
*~Some stages have Two planes, meaning it's a secondary map of the same stage that counts as one stage. You need a Power for it, which you get early on in the game.
*~There's also a way to move about each stage quicker when later on in the game you get the Panther Upgrade. These are called "Panther Runs" and they serve as key hubs in a stage, you essentially transport from one to another.
*~ The Kunai (which is an upgrade btw - you may see it on a Loading Screen tip but cannot use them until you obtain them later on), is used to open doors aswell. You target a door's recepticle (not on the door itself), the door unlocks and re locks after a certain time passes, so you have to be quick on these aswell.
Some stages, like the "Black Market" stage, have all sorts of traps and environmental hazards that serve as puzzles as their own. Taking damage from some of these traps can issue a "Reset" where Strider teleports back to the nearest safe zone or they can cause knockback. In other instances, hazards, such as Acid or Lava, deal constant damage as you stand on them.
*Note - There is NO Fast Travel options for those out there that need clarification on this. If you take your time out to explore, just like in those titles mentioned before, you HAVE to travel back by yourself through the stage. Also, I'm not pointing out every way you have to open doors, that's part of the challenge.
Combat is pretty straightforward aswell, with a few twists. At the beginning, you'll have your basic Cypher (Identifiable by the colour scarf Strider has) which doesn't do anything right then and there. Strider will attack as fast as you press the button too which can help deal additional damage to bosses and enemies as well as the standard slash attack being omnidirectional. Wherever you point the analog stick is where Strider will strike. Ex- If you hold top right, Strider will attack top right. You also get a slide, which can help avoid enemy attacks and help you set up moves aswell.
Upgrades come in many different flavours. Your standard Cypher (Red Scarf - Also known later on as Reflective Cypher) gains the ability to deflect projectiles back at enemies and you also get a Charge attack very early on in the game which is needed to deal additional damage and break enemy shields. Cyphers also affect Kunais and Blast Cannon - but these upgrades need to be found separately. There are a total of 4 different Cyphers you'll be getting in the game additional to your standard one:
*Reflective Cypher (Red Scarf) - Deals normal damage, adds the ability do deflect enemy projectiles. No special Kunai Upgrades, No Special Blast Cannon Upgrades.
*Freeze Cypher (Blue Scarf) - Deals Normal damage, adds the ability to freeze enemies in place (enemies can be used as platforms). Kunai will freeze enemies on contact. Blast Cannon adds a wave where Strider is that will freeze enemies in place as you fly past them.
*Fire Cypher (Orange Scarf) - Deals the most damage, adds the ability to damage enemies over time. Kunai will attach and explode over time on enemies or ground. Blast Cannon will damage and burn enemies.
*Magnetic Cypher (Purple Scarf) - Turns Swipes into Boomerang (Cannot Mash button to attack faster - Have a max of 2 hits then must wait until blade comes back to you). Kunai bounces off surfaces, Blast Cannon deals additional damage.
Apart from these, obviously - Strider has 3 additional moves that expend energy, like the Kunais. Option-A (Eagle) appears above Strider and does a sweeping motion according from where it was summoned and hits for high damage, you'll be using this one a lot on bosses as it deals the most damage. Option-B (Panther) appears next to Strider, and moves forward until it hits a wall, then he runs the opposite direction (like a turtle shell in the Super Mario Bros games) and Option-C (Bots) summons two robots that appear around Strider that shoot spheres as you attack adding additional damage to your basic swipes.
Enemy types, sadly where the game faulters, is not very varied. You have your basic grunts with different weapon types - one can carry a Sniper Shot that if it hits you can cause knockback, another can have a rifle, shotguns, RPG's or a Machine Gun (deals most damage but won't see much of it during the game). Some grunts can carry shields - the non color shield can be destroyed by Option-A, Option-B or a Charged Swipe, likewise a Blue shield can only be destroyed by Freeze Cypher moves, Orange shields by Fire Cypher and Purple Shields by Magnet Cypher. The color shield enemy grunts only appear as you obtain the upgrades and then later on in the game, but they aren't really adding any challenge, more adding to the nuisance of having to switch Cyphers - like the Magnet Cypher, which was nigh useless to me outside of opening doors with it. One thing that annoyed me was how they only recolor the grunts and drop em on different stages, it felt a bit lazy.
Another enemy type, are flying bots that use about the same weapons grunt use and are really annoying, especially those that can cause knockback with rockets or heavy fire. Some bots later on, can actually charge at you and cause knockback. Then there are the larger enemies, like the Heavy Trooper (Yellow and Red) that have an arm that extends to where you are if they are facing you, or have napalm shots that home on where you were standing, you can deal with these guys easy though - the enemy that REALLY annoyed me was the Brainwalker, most of his attacks can cause knockback, he can charge at you and can push you off him if you're close enough - his shots can also home in on where you are.
Bosses fare a LOT better though. They all have attack patterns very similar to bosses from games like MegaMan X and some are actually pretty tough like Solo.
All in all though, bar a few annoyances, like Strider not being able to slash downwards directly if you're not jumping, the knockback state, the nearly useless Magnet Cypher and of course the game being short - this was definately one of my top games for 2014 and my top one for 2014 at the time of writing. It harkens back to older games like Symphony of the Night/Super Metroid/MegaMan X. Plays like one, feels like one and is a very welcome return for one of my old school favourite heroes very easily worth the asking price.
+Amazing Combat System
+Fantastic Stage and Level designs
+Game looks amazing
+Great Particle and Weather effects
+Bosses can be challenging and tons of fun
+Tons to Explore and see
+Diverse Upgrade System
+Tons of Collectibles
-Limited Enemy Archetypes
-Magnet Cypher is nigh useless in combat
-Knockback state can be annoying
-Game is short
-Odd Checkpoint system