Strafe Impressions: Come for the Nostalgia, Stay for the Intense First Person Action

When Pixel Titans announced Strafe back in January 2015, many gamers were ecstatic to see that the indie developers were bringing back the old school first person shooter action. Games like Quake, DOOM, and Wolfenstein were all about shooting enemies in a fast and frantic motion.

Strafe follows in the footsteps of these legendary titles, by bringing back nostalgic gameplay, graphics, etc while all along bringing their own unique take on the genre. Strafe takes place on a ship out in deep space, the Icarus. You play as a scrapper who goes out to space to collect rewards that are indescribable, however, this comes at a cost as this area of space is unexplored.

And that is where the game starts, trouble arises and you are now set to go find out what happened to the Icarus and the crew. Strafe, like its inspired titles, give the player very little story, the story is not the selling point of this game – it’s the gameplay.

Gameplay is frantic, fast, and messy. Various amounts of enemies will bombard you, but thanks to the fast movements and the vast array of guns, most situations are escapable. This is also a good time to mention that Strafe is a roguelike game, meaning that once you die, you start over from the beginning. The end meter will track all sorts of cool stuff like how long you were alive, how many enemies you killed, and the amount of blood split.

The random procedurally generated style game fits really well with Strafe. Since the game is so fast, you won’t be dwelling too long on past mistakes. And you will be making mistakes. The game always has you on your feet whether it’s because there are hordes of enemies coming your way, a new power up in the distance, or a new enemy type hurdling your way, Strafe always keeps players on their toes.

Enemies can differ – some will chase you and try to take you on with their fists, others will stalk you from on walls and ceilings, and some will have weapons which can shoot at you. The amount of variation in Strafe is good, it keeps you long enough entertained while managing not to get you bored.

However, this is where comes Strafe’s biggest problem – the difficulty. As nice as it is to have a procedurally generated game, this means players will need to be mentally prepared to handle elements, enemies, or barricades that were there in their last run. This could result in very frustrating moments as the game does a pretty good job on testing the player’s skill.

There are 4 main levels each with a sub-section, however, getting to the next level is near impossible. And completing the game in one fluid run is most definitely impossible. Health stations, ammo dumps, and shield regenerators are far and few between the levels. It’s not all bad news as players can set up a teleporter to jump between levels, however, to create and set up the portal players must find all the pieces scattered throughout all four levels.

This is Strafe’s biggest downfall. The game is just too hard for its own good. There were many times when I thought I was going to make it out of a level and progress only to just die at the end and start all over. The game is truly frustrating at times. However, if you have the patience and endurance to keep hacking at the game then all to you. The game offers a lot of cool things that can override this major issue.

For example, a really cool thing about Strafe is that Pixel Titans added a blood splatter system. So if you like coating a room with a ton of blood from your enemies are going to love Strafe. Heads can pop off, arms can get shot off and with each shot, blood will cover the walls of the Icarus.

Strafe has a lot going for itself – it manages to recapture the beautiful gameplay mechanics from legendary FPS titles like DOOM, Quake, and Wolfenstein; keep players hooked with its procedurally generated levels, and brings back the nostalgia from the 90’s. However, Pixel Titans might have made the game a little too difficult for the average gamer. It promotes replayability but at a really high cost of frustration.

At the price point of $19.99 though, it’s hard to pass up on the game.