Strider PS4 review – I can be your Hiryu, baby

Strider PS4 screens

You’d think bringing an 8-bit icon like Strider back into the gaming fold would be risky. Balancing some vigorous nods to the past, while injecting a fresh dose of DNA could have easily ended in a halfway house no one really wanted to occupy. Well, clearly no one told Double Helix that, because Strider takes all the elements that made its predecessors so incredible and makes this new effort look… well, effortless.

Strider PS4 review

There’s a hokey neo-Soviet story that casually orbits Strider’s neon-tinged action, but even the game accepts that it’s only there to tick a box and lets the gameplay do the talking. Returning ninja badass Hiryu is here for one thing, and one thing only: slashing fools to ribbons with his beloved sword, Cypher. Double Helix has focused on the important things with Strider. He moves through the side-scrolling levels with a nimble sprint, acrobatically clinging to walls and ceilings with the lightest touch. Even right at the beginning of the game, without all the liberating freedom that the later upgrades give you, Hiryu is a lightning-quick killing machine who cuts through the poor guards of Kazakh City like a diamond Katana through hot lard.

Don’t let the side-scrolling presentation of Strider fool you – with the ability to cling to any surface, freedom and exploration is the name of the game. Strider (the actual name. Fooled you!) offers an on-screen map with a distance counter to make sure you always know where to go, but it’s the ability to explore every nook and cranny that lifts it to a whole new plane of platforming excellence. Along with finding health and energy bar upgrades (which allow Hiryu to pull of screen-clearing special moves), the verticality it gives you turns every fight into an acrobatic dance of death – leaping from walls collecting health before swooping back to the ground to unleash a blur of deadly strikes.

Strider PS4 screens

Strider’s 2.5D remake stays true to the originals combat and exploration.

Strider gives you a simple palette of attacks, then builds on them through a series of colourful set-pieces and suitably over-the-top bosses (here’s looking at you, Armoured Dragon). These upgrades give you new ways to approach Kazakh City (the power to deflect gunfire and a handy mid-air dash being noteworthy highlights), but some of the bosses that stand before them feel oddly imbalanced.

The difficulty can also spike at times without reason – but your arsenal of skills grows at
such a natural rate that these moments
simply fade into an engrossing slash-a-thon

Big bads like bounty hunter Solo offer a rewarding shift in the action, but the balance is thrown out the window when they break out unavoidable attacks that drain your health (and your patience). This isn’t the case for every encounter, but it’s a frustrating inconsistency that drags Strider away from a perfect score. The difficulty can also spike at times without reason – but your arsenal of skills grows at such a natural rate that these moments simply fade into the engrossing slash-a-thon that’s just stolen another hour of your life. Capcom revives one of its most hallowed franchises and conjures up one of the most rewarding side-scrolling slash-‘em-ups in recent memory. Loud, proud, and always a blast.

Our Score

Score: 9