The way of the ninja is one of violent agility. Ninjas move quickly to dispatch with their enemies and Strider Hiryu is, in his own flashy way, a master of the art. Double Helix and Capcom worked together to revive this classic arcade franchise by marrying a number of gameplay elements inherent to Strider's lineage. You'll explore a vast open world, grow in power by acquiring numerous abilities, and lay waste to hundreds of enemies who stand in your way. For fans, Strider is the complete package and its visual style works wonders with its cutthroat combat. Strider's latest revival brings honor to the way of the ninja.
Being a re-imagining of the series, Double Helix built their version of Strider in a slick 2.5D world. Replacing sprites with 3D models to provide a dynamic sense of scale while you explore the socialist overworld. Based in the fiction of the Strider universe, you move through a neo-Russian inspired city, battling soldiers, robots, and giant bosses. Many enemies provide visual cues that help you decide which weapon will be best for their quick disposal, and Hiryu's iconic scarf changes color to let you know which weapon he wields. The secondary weapon options A,B, and C also return with their modified style matching the new look, appearing as holographic projections emitted from the Strider himself. That won't make them any less deadly, though, and "deadly" is one sensation the game exudes.
The range of motion afforded to the player is what make Strider feel so deadly. The omni-directional blade called a Cypher that Hiryu wields will actually swing as quickly as the button can be pressed. So when you rapid-fire a face button, your character responds appropriately as particles and debri fly off anything in the sword’s path, tearing robots and turrets to ribbons. Should you manage a specific number of hits without receiving any damage, Hiryu goes into Super Mode which increases the range and damage of the Cypher. Enemies also appear red in this mode, making their death appear more inevitable than it already was. Bosses will require some extra effort on your part, but the Super Mode is just as effective and the combination of Hiryu’s speed and finesse will make short work of the most epic of encounters.
Strider at its core is a fast-paced action game that puts you in the shoes of an incredibly agile avatar. Strider is about momentum, dashing around enemies, double-jumps, and diving from insane heights; Hiryu is a daredevil when he clashes with enemies. Every combat animation communicates Hiryu's persistence, even down to the run animation. It's as if he is filled with purpose and his enthusiasm shines when you bounce around a room collecting health and dealing death. In addition to his Cypher, Hiryu gains access to kunai projectiles along the journey. Both weapons are fueled by one of four plasmids, along with the plasma catapult. It’s an air-dash used for a variety of purposes that range from offensive and defensive options, to environmental traversal and puzzle solving. There are many upgrades to find, but they are locked behind doors that are inaccessible without the right plasmid or ability. That's where Double Helix shines, evenly pacing out the sense of progression and encouraging exploration.
This Metroidvania-style element is constantly rewarding you as you move through the various parts of the city, providing concept art, new challenges, outfits, and upgrades. They can be very difficult to access at times, as the designers use every nook and cranny of the map to hideaway collectables. You may even die in a collection attempt, but the forgiving checkpoint system encourages you to get right back on the horse and keep moving. Puzzle sections are elaborate and make great use of those moments when you slow down for a little bit, but being fast is still the most entertaining part of the experience. A fast travel system does exist, but also requires a lot of backtracking based on your proximity to a Panther Run. And because the map doesn’t always tell you where you’re going, it can be a bit frustrating for completionists.
Any complaints I have about the game are minor from here out. Parkour elements for the most part feel smooth, but bouncing off a wall could rarely have mixed results. The mixing between music and SFX needed some tweaking to keep the awesome soundtrack from being drowned out in the clash between Hiryu and his enemies. Difficulty can ramp up at times, but it never punishes you. You may just have to die a few times before you get it right. There are challenge modes and multiple difficulties for those who want to truly become a master, but even a single playthrough offers a ton of exploration, boss battles, and fast-paced Strider goodness. With the game available on so many platforms at such a low-price point, there is no reason not to pick this up. This version of Strider will make a fan out of everyone who plays it.
|ScrewAttack's News Director Sean Hinz worked in logistics for over four years before decided it was time to switch industries. After a couple years spent getting an MBA and freelancing, he finally found a home at ScrewAttack.com. As far as games go, Sean likes to play anything he can get his hands on, but especially enjoys third-person action RPGs. Is that really a genre?|