These days, the character of Strider Hiryu is best known for his involvement in the Marvel Vs. Capcom franchise. However, older gamers will remember Strider Hiryu from his 80's arcade roots in the appropriately titled Strider, a game which was then ported to the NES and Sega Genesis. In 1999, Strider 2 was released for the PlayStation and was one of the system's best action games, but failed to become more than a cult classic. Double Helix and Capcom are returning to the franchise for the first time in 15 years with Strider, a digital download for the PlayStation 4.
Taking A Cue From The NES
Strider doesn't take the same straightforward action route that Strider 2 did, instead taking a cue from the NES version of Strider and creating a game whose genre can best be described as Metroid-lite. Like in Metroid, players will take on the role of Strider in a large environment full of locked doors that require a specific ability, called ciphers in-game, that are necessary to open said door. Unlike Metroid, most of these locked doors lead to artwork, costume changes and mini-games rather than brand new areas but still, the sense of exploration is there and adds another layer to a straightforward action game.
You'll traverse through the environment, destroying enemies while unlocking new abilities, and any gamer who enjoyed Metroid, Shadow Complex, or any of the Metroid styled Castlevania games will be right at home with this release. If you fall into that category, you don't need to read the rest of the review: just buy the game now.
So the premise of Strider is sound, now how is the rest of the game?
The Grace Of A Ninja
Strider is one of the most fluid, well-controlled games you'll find so far on the PlayStation 4. You'll glide across the screen with such fluidity and grace that combat and exploration never get old. As you progress in the game and unlock new abilities, you'll be making judicious use of the DualShock 4's “Share” button to capture the badassery that you create onscreen.
For the most part, Strider Hiryu has no ranged abilities, preferring to get up close and personal with his enemies using a variety of sword-based attacks. While your may think that this puts you at a disadvantage, the acrobatic moves at your disposal means that you can easily outmaneuver your enemy and slice him to pieces before he even gets a shot off. As you progress in the game, you'll unlock moves that let you reflect bullets and freeze enemies in place; you'll never feel like you're at a disadvantage just because you don't have a gun.
How Can Something Bland Look So Good?
Strider is a good looking game with one major flaw: it has a tendency to look bland. There is no real variety in the backgrounds, so you'll be seeing the same black, gray, white and brown mechanical environments throughout the entire game. The contrast of Strider Hiryu, clad in bright blue and red, and his enemies, often time clad in one, bright primary color, against the background is a visual treat and make the character models pop. However, it would have been nice to see some variation in the background levels, similar to any of the old Strider games or even Metroid.
Speaking of variation, while the bosses are varied and well worth the price of admission (and call back to the Strider bosses of old), the standard grunts you fight during the rest of the game could have used more variation. While the weapons may change, the enemy models do not so a sense of fatigue can set in near the end of the game.
However, the game itself is only five hours long, so just when the game starts to get repetitive it ends. In an ideal world, a longer game with more varied environments and enemies would have pushed this game into instant classic territory, but what is provided is still great. Plus, while five hours may not make for a long game, there are extra modes to increase the game's replayability.
Strider includes two additional modes that give you a reason to come back to the game again and again: Beacon Run and Survival. Survival pits you with a limited number of ciphers against waves of enemies while Beacon Run asks you to complete levels as fast as possible. Each mode focuses on one of Strider's main strengths, its combat and its sense of speed, and are great additions to the core game. While the game features no multiplayer, you can compare your scores on a global leaderboard for either mode.
The PlayStation 4 Advantage
Strider on the PlayStation 4 features slightly better graphics than its last generation counterparts but outside of that, it has no PlayStation 4 exclusive features.
Strider brings us back to a time when games were meant to be fun. The joy of Strider comes not in its story or setpieces but rather in player controlled actions. Clearing a room full of enemies with a wealth of stylish, acrobatic moves without getting hit? That's sure to illicit a few fist pumps. Navigating through a tough platforming challenge with nary a scratch? Yea, you'll be sharing that. Too many games these days are all about forcing the best moments of a game into a cutscene or linear setpiece, but not Strider.
If you miss the way games used to be, if you yearn for a Metroid-like experience on the PlayStation 4 or you crave a fluid, stylish action game, download Strider immediately. When a game's one major flaw is that it ends too soon, you know it's a game that is worth trying.
Final Score: 8/10
Game Category: Action / Adventure
Article by - Joshua Phillips
Insert Date: 2/27/2013