Strider is the kind of game which is a lot of fun whilst playing, but then fades from your mind almost immediately after putting the controller down. It’s a slick, fast paced experience, but one which never quite achieves the depth of other Metroidvania experiences.
Strider Hiryu is sent to assassinate Grandmaster Meio, the dictator of Kazakh City. Standing in his way are…well, a lot of people. It’s hard to keep track. The whole plot is insane and confusing and makes no sense, but I guess that’s mean to be part of the charm? Well, it doesn’t work. The whole thing is a confusing mess that interferes with the gameplay.
Thankfully, Strider is a lot of fun to play. The actual combat is among the best I’ve encountered in the genre, as we mow down row after row of foes. Strider can be equipped with a bunch of different upgrades for his plasma sword, and playing around with them on the fly adds a slight tactical edge to the fast paced hacking and slashing. Strider is a Metroidvania too however, and its here that it falls down. The world isn’t nearly compelling enough, not open enough, for this game to compete on the same level as classics such as Symphony of the Night and Super Metroid, or even the more recent Shadow Protocol. The world isn’t much fun to explore, and the stuff to find is all fairly dull.
It’s a decent length though, with the periodic boss fights being the absolute highlight. Sure, they’re your standard ‘learn attack pattern, exploit’ type affair, but who cares when they’re so much fun. They all look cool as well, with some really epic set pieces. There are a few cool special abilities, with the ability to scale walls giving the experience a pleasant verticality.
Strider looks excellent, with a stylish and clean look. The whole thing runs very smoothly, which coupled with the cool visuals makes the whole thing very satisfying to play. The music is forgettable, but gets the job done in the moment. The voice acting is hammy and ridiculous, but…y’know, why not? It fits.
Strider is a cool, if not hugely memorable game. I enjoyed my time with it, but it didn’t scratch the Metroidvania itch I was hoping for. Instead I got a well put together side scrolling hack a slash with exploration elements, and I guess that’s alright.