May 9, 2017
Strafe wears its influences on its sleeve as a retro, first-person shooter on permanent ‘screw you’ mode. The game brings unrelenting waves of nostalgia from legendary games like Doom and Quake.
From the outside looking in, Strafe seems like it’s promoting a fast paced, run-and-gun style of play, when in fact that may not be the best approach. Strafe is constantly throwing you into heart-racing scenarios where you can easily get overwhelmed by the enemy, which forces you to lure them back into a choke point and take them out with a bit more strategy. This definitely does slow down the pace that Strafe is aiming for, although there are many points in the game where running back to a choke point just won’t help and you have to run, shoot and jump your way through the level. Perfecting how to move nimbly and landing your shots as you’re mid jump is important early on as it’s the only real way to get an advantage on the enemy.
Strafe has its own charm without resting on the laurels of its influences too heavily. Its action packed gameplay is matched with bright and exciting visuals as you decimate your enemy to a perfectly executed electronic soundtrack. The music suits each occasion in each level, it starts off readying you with excitement for the upcoming bloodbath and stays high energy alongside the game’s pace. Once in the end zone of each stage, the music descends to a tranquil lull to tie in with the relief you will feel when you reach the end of a stage without dying. And the over-the-top cheesy tutorial really sets the tone for some of the more quirky moments in the game, such as the Wolfenstein minigame or Easter eggs like the shotgun from Superhot which moves time only when you move.
Strafe makes each run-through unique as it randomly generates each level as you go, always giving each run a bit more of a challenge. This should mean that there is always surprises waiting for you around the corner, however, you find yourself recognising patterns in the randomly generated world that helps you figure out what to expect next. Strafe struggles to bring a truly random feel to it because of these giveaways, and could benefit from a bit more work as far as randomisation goes.
“The game can be a cruel beast at the best of times. Strafe demands perfection in its gameplay and it only takes a few failed runs to realise this”
The game can be a cruel beast at the best of times. Strafe demands perfection in its gameplay and it only takes a few failed runs to realise this. There is no difficultly level in Strafe which sets it aside from its inspirations. In Strafe you will find yourself being as careful as possible to save your armour and health points as food stations and armour machines are few and far between and are the only way to replenish your health. Not to mention that armour costs a hell of a lot to craft, so you need to choose when to stock up wisely. The enemies don’t hit soft either, so a few extra hits could be the difference in making it out alive. The thing that makes Strafe so cruel is that if you die, you go right back to the start, unless you collect all of the parts to rebuild the teleporter, which requires surviving the claustrophobic bloodbath of a first level.
Strafe is an enjoyable, mayhem-filled, rogue-like, first-person shooter. It forces you to heighten your heart-rate and rely on twitch reflexes to make sure you’re not joining the deformed sloth-like humanoids that you’re meant to be killing on the ground. This is made a little frustrating sometimes as some bugs can rear their head in the form of enemies shooting through walls or doors. There are also the odd frame-rate drops and glitches in the visuals. The other annoyance is that your gun choice felt like a no-brainer, the rail gun and machine gun feel weak and lacking impact from a far, so I almost always found myself selecting the shotgun as my primary weapon.
- Fast paced action
- Challenging gameplay
- Looks and sounds brilliant
- Quirky and entertaining
- Sometimes a bit too unforgiving
- Health and armour too infrequent
- Bugs let the game down
Strafe makes no mistake in offering up a fun, fast paced and challenging experience; fast paced enough to keep you on the edge of your seat and frustrating enough to make you rage quit 50 times a day. Strafe has a charm to it that makes you want to come back to it over and over again. Even after beating the game, you want to find more Easter eggs and play around with them. It’s very satisfying destroying the sloth-like aliens with a unique array of guns, all the way from a shotgun, a one bullet kill gun, a wrench, and even a weird fish. Strafe is an extreme, bloody and exciting game