When cyber ninjas roam the cyber streets.
When I heard that there was a new Strider game in the works, I thought to myself, “That guy from Marvel vs Capcom is getting his own game?”
That about sums up how much or rather, how little, I knew about Strider as a character. It was only after I decided to review the new title that I did a bit of research and learned that Strider has quite the history.
Starting back in 1989, Strider was a hit in the arcades, and since then, it has seen a myriad of titles released on a number of different platforms.
While the quality of these titles varied wildly between releases, it had a cult following, and Strider himself has been recognized as an iconic character.
A little less ignorant of the subject matter, I booted up the game for the first time hoping for a good old school hack & slash, and got mostly what I wanted.
To spend even one full sentence to explain the story of Strider would be excessive so I’ll just condense it down into five words.
Cyber Ninja in Cyber Russia.
With that out-of-the-way, Strider plays more or less like any other metroidvania game. The iconic cyber ninja starts out rather weak with low health, energy and a limited move-set, but throughout the course of his adventure, he gains a full arsenal of deadly weapons.
Not only do these weapons and moves have various functionalities in combat, they also serve to allow access to previously unreachable areas, where upgrades and secondary unlockables are hidden away.
The upgrades varied from the standard fare double jumps to more interesting weapon modes, which changed the property of Strider’s iconic Cypher blade and his other moves.
One such mode allowed the Cypher to be infused with explosive energy, which cut through shields that would previously deflect attacks, and another would allow Strider to easily reflect energy beams with a slash of his weapon.
Getting new moves and testing them out on overmatched enemies while exploring previously sealed areas was a great deal of fun, and it was quite addictive as I found my eyes always hovering over the map to see if there was an area I hadn’t explored.
The movements and overall feel of controlling Strider felt incredibly tight and fluid, as he moves at a brisk pace and his Cypher slashes strike out in many different directions, so quickly that I felt it was only limited by how quickly I was able to press the square button.
When I wasn’t cutting robots in half, I was maneuvering through platforming sections which required me to do a variety of mobility moves I had just learned previously, and it served to add a bit more variety to the equation.
However, while the fundamental mechanics in Strider were rock solid in every aspect, it wasn’t without its faults.
Due to the nature of the level design, I found myself needing to climb onto the walls and ceiling to get to where I needed to go, but oftentimes I saw Strider disappear into the wall itself.
I was still able to move outside the bounds of the level, but I found myself accidentally clipping into walls multiple times. Luckily, I managed to run and jump back into the levels on all the occasions but once, when I had to restart from the last checkpoint.
Considering I wasn’t out to look for these glitches, the fact that I found multiple locations where this happened points to the idea that perhaps this title wasn’t quality checked well enough and is filled with a myriad of these bugs.
Also, I started Strider on the Normal difficulty thinking that it would provide a reasonable amount of challenge, but boss after boss, I was able to finish fights that were supposed to be epic showcase bouts in a matter of a few seconds while taking very little damage.
While the look, feel and atmosphere of the title seemed decidedly old school, the difficulty was not and my greatest regret of this title is not playing through on hard mode right off the bat.
Clocking in at around six hours with dozens of cyber unlockables hidden away waiting to be found and giant cyber bosses just begging to be cut down, this cyber ninja comes out slicing and dicing in his return to the proverbial cyber stage.
Fun Tidbit: There’s a limit to how long I can mash on the square button and I often had to take breaks when my hand started to hurt.
Review copy of game provided by publisher. Primary play on PlayStation 4.