Strider: Review Hack, Slash and Repeat Double Helix Games | Playstation 4 | February 18, 2014 Strider is a property many players recognize, thanks to Marvel vs. Capcom, but never actually played. Understandable, seeing as the last release was in 1999. This reboot/remake is inspired by the original NES but contains plenty of new features and mechanics to separate itself from predecessors. Players control Strider Hiryu (Strider is a title, not the guy’s name) as he progresses through Kazah City, an industrial area populated by assassins under a stylized-tyrannical regime. Hiryu begins the journey with only a few bars of health and his trusted sword. Players will climb, slide and attack an endless supply of enemies throughout this action-platformer which contains mild puzzle solving. Along the path to defeat Grandmaster Meio, Hiryu will gain additional magic abilities (called options), equipment, kunai, elemental attacks and increased stats. These skills are necessary for combat and unlocking gated areas. Oftentimes, a recently acquired power is necessary to reveal the path during a previous section. What is a Critical Hit! Hiryu controls like an unstoppable ninja of death. He can run from one end of the world to the next and defeat anyone who stands in his path with quick sword strikes. Hiryu is capable of jumping, and later double-jumping, through stages and changing trajectory mid-flight. This classic air cartwheel is a great homage to earlier Strider games. As powerful as Hiryu feels, he is not immortal. Enemy damage will add up over time and without a regenerating health bar (true to its arcade roots) players will scour the area for health packs, especially on harder difficulties. Offense is the best defense and Strider provides players with a constantly evolving arsenal. Almost every boss battle concludes with a new ability. These will come in the form of options, which are reminiscent of previous games, such as a dashing panther, flaming eagle or energy shield. Remember the flaming eagle; you will spam it during boss battles. Alternatively, Hiryu will gain additional elements to apply to all of his attacks. There is a strategic difference in utilizing the ability to reflect bullets, freeze enemies or scorch them. Switching attacks is easy and intuitive on the fly. Boss battles are a welcome change of pace from the cannon-fodder throughout the levels. Bosses are typically weak against a recently acquired ability which encourages players to try out the full arsenal. Instead of mindless button mashing, these encounters will require players to learn the attack pattern and exploit weaknesses. What is Not Very Effective… The bosses are never impossible, even on hard, but can require multiple attempts. A typical scenario will be to reach the area with half health, take a few licks from the enemy and learn the initial attack pattern. There are a few instances where the boss will switch attacks multiple times and the player might have to revisit the same battle again and again. As fluid and animated as Hiryu feels during battle, the rest of the world is flat. The enemies change colors as the game progresses, to let you know that they take more hits, but they are the same. Throughout the six hour playthrough, every section was a variation of industrial and technology. There were no obvious distinctions between which section of the world you were in and no forest, ice or fire level which is common in these types of adventures. The majority of your time is focused on gameplay, thank goodness. The story is basic and usually amounts to talking heads discussing who is the strongest. Fortunately, every cutscene can be skipped, which is what I did. Unfortunately, there will be sections when the bottom quarter of the screen is blocked by a dialogue box; enemies will attack from behind this pop-up, which is frustrating. Status Summary Strider is an action-adventure game at heart that attempts to mimic the backtracking and gated access of a Castlevania or Metroid experience. The game does have large difficulty spikes (in one section, if I was frozen by enemies they would team up and destroy over half my maxed health) but is never unbeatable. It manages to pay homage to the Strider entries before it without being burdened by the past. It’s possible that diehard fans of the unforgiving difficulty from the NES version will find this too easy and modern day players will find this too difficult. If you prefer you games to have an engaging story or strong character arcs than this is not the assignment for you. If you enjoy the style and feel of an action game from the arcade heyday then this release is worthy of a Special Class-A rank. Score: 7.5 /10 + Fast-paced Combat + Upgrades that Matter + Boss Battle Variety – No Fast Travel – Difficulty Spikes Trophy Analysis Most of the trophies are story-related or require basic tasks that will occur naturally during a playthrough. The exception is to beat the game on Hard, which isn’t that bad, or to complete the game in under 4-hours. Regular gamers (i.e. not speed run professionals) are posting times less than three hours, so this is an attainable trophy. It is not realistic to collect all of the upgrades, another set of trophies, and complete the game under the time requirement. Combined with the fact that the game commits a trophy sin by not stacking difficulty related trophies, a minimum of two playthroughs is required for platinum hopefuls. Level Up, Friends!