STRAFE is a game I have been excited about since I backed the Kickstarter almost two years ago. The concept of a shooter that was meant to look and feel like the original Doom or Quake with a modern rogue-lite twist had me hooked, well before I even played it. Now that I have had the game hands on for a little while I can honestly say that Pixel Titans and Devolver have delivered in spades.
The first thing you will notice is that the graphics are very retro. Not the side scrolling pixel art that has become so popular recently, but literally looks like the game really did come out in 1996. The textures are low res, the polygons are huge, and everything just looks like it was top of the line 20 years ago. From the main menu you choose either to start right into the game or a console that leads to a mini-game (mini being a relative term) last stand where waves of enemies spawn and you are scored by the gallons of blood you spill before you succumb or survive ten waves. Yes, gallons of blood.
Starting a run you have the choice of 3 weapons: Machinegun, Shotgun, or Railgun. Machinegun is an automatic, low damage weapon with a grenade for the secondary. Shotgun is the classic Doom era shotgun with a flak ball for a secondary. Railgun is exactly what you would assume, super high damage at any range in a straight line with the most interesting secondary of the three weapons. You charge a ball of energy at the muzzle that releases once fully charged, moving slowly away from you. The ball does high damage on its own, or can be shot with a rail to make a small sized, yet devastating, explosion.
As you traverse the four locations, each consisting of 3 levels, you will find stat boosts, weapon upgrades, and plenty of secondary weapons. The secondary weapons each have limited ammo that once spent become one time use weapons of varying types. Some you literally break over the head of an enemy, some become bombs or mines, or you just literally throw it like a ninja star.
The difficulty doesn’t really start to ramp until the second area, with the first area being pretty straight forward. Once new enemy types start being introduced and the environments open up there are a lot more angles to be hit from. Each zone has enemies types that are specific to it, excluding the first one which are the basic enemies that will be encountered throughout your entire run. Some are fast, some are big, and some are just silly.
Each run culminates in the same one “boss” fight. Its tricky and frantic with hints of frustrating. It can be done, but I find most of my runs that end up there to be a loss. Not to say the boss is unfair, it just all at once cranks the action up to 11. A lot happens all at once, stopping is death, and if you run out of ammo you are probably going to die
Would I recommend this game? Yes, but to the right person. The graphics and weapons are a call back to the birth of the first person shooter. The rogue-lite nature of the game lends to replayability, and honestly its just really, really fun to just blow some low res heads off like in the days of Quake and Doom. If perma-death and gallons of cartoon blood sound like your cup of tea then I cant think of a single game I could recommend more.
Oh, also, my name is in it. Let me know if you happen to find it too, ill post an example below.
For more information about STRAFE, Pixel Titans, or Devolver Digital go HERE