STRIDER | REVIEW | PS4
I imagine the Metroidvania formula is fairly simple one to duplicate for a game designer. In my experiences with games using the formula it's also an extremely hard to perfect. Strider, while moderately enjoyable for most of the experience doesn't fully capture the level of awesomeness that games like Metorid and Super Metroid did for me back in the day. It's a solid action game, but not one you'll probably remember long after it's over.
My bias aside, let's jump into what different types of gamers will experience with this new generation edition of Strider.
For those who don't know, Strider is an action platformer that reimagines the original arcade game from the 80s with the same name. In this case, the developers decided to employ a more open approach to exploration and combat thus removing the "level" structure of the original and adding several new options for executing your enemies.
For the most part, combat is intuitive and easy to master. You should greatly enjoy the varied enemy types that encourage and sometimes even force you to attack in ways that go beyond simply mashing the attack button. You will also find several support items during your adventure that support your particular fighting style. These items include roving shields, throwing stars, a warping ability that reflects enemy projectiles and even a mythical panther you can summon to attack your enemies and even help you traverse later areas in the game.
My favorite part of the Strider experience was battling the plethora of enemy bosses and mini-bosses the game continuously throws at you. Instead of forcing you down cooridoors to battle minion after minion, Strider rewards the player with boss encounters that require you to apply the skills you've acquired during the course of the game. I also believe that Capcom got the increase in difficulty across the length of the game perfect. Key bosses and bosses toward the end of the game rightfully pose a much greater challenge than the bosses you'll face earlier in play.
Side Note: The physics for controlling Strider will also annoy you at times as he's prone to grapple onto things that you are not trying to grapple (this is especially annoying in boss fights that require platforming).
The world map does allow for and even encourage exploration which will allow you to find health and magic power upgrades. However, my first gripe with this "Metroid" approach lies in the game's pacing. Traversing much of the map is limited by doors you cannot open without first learning the ability that allows you to open it. That shouldn't sound strange to fans of games like Metroid or Shadow Complex. Where Strider doesn't quite answer the mail is in how long it takes you to find the skills or items necessary to open said doors. I believe this formula is more enjoyable when you get the abilities earlier in the game and then are set free to explore the more difficult areas at your leisure.
This isn't a huge issue, but it's usually the one that sets apart the great Metroid clones from the just OK ones. Also, keep in mind that there are some slightly tricky platforming parts of the game (some even go as far as to alter gravity thus making controlling Strider more challenging). None of these areas are ultimately difficult. But, they were slightly annoying for me as I typically just want to explore, find hidden loot and beat up bad guys.
On top of the sharp combat and slightly encumbered exploration, Strider will also treat you to trophies or achievements that are mostly enjoyable to acquire. Completionists will also be mildly pleased at all the hidden upgrades one can find by being willing to scour the game's map.
Audiophiles & Visualists
Visuals were clearly made for last gen and then just plussed up a bit to make them shine on PS4, XBO and PC. Audio is nostalgic at times, but mostly nonexistent from the game.
I wouldn't typically put this section in a review for an action platformer, but for some strange reason, Capcom felt it necessary to force an absolutely corny, voice-acted storyline over this adventure. It comes of contrived and will probably often annoy you as the dialog scenes are usually set before boss battles that if you lose, you'll have to watch several times as you cannot skip the scenes right away if you've already seen them.
Strider can be a fun game if straight forward action platforming is your thing. However, I got Strider for free through Playstation Plus and I can't fuly say that this is an experience worth $15 for those of you who weren't able to get it for free. To be honest, I probably would not have played it if I could not have copped it for free or caught it mad cheap during a steam sale on PC. Strider is ultimately longer than it is fun and really does not bring anything to the table that you've not already seen.