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Video games, harking back to the old days, isn’t anything terribly new. But few games manage to embrace that nostalgia, ignoring the norms of modern life today. This is the case with STRAFE, developed by Pixel Titans and published by Devolver Digital. STRAFE had a big showing at PAX WEST 2016 in Seattle Washington, and I managed to find some time to play the game.
STRAFE is a procedurally-generated rogue-like shooter, pulled from the computer world of 1995. High-resolution graphics give way to early polygons. Crisp details are replaced with low resolutions and blurs. A massive story is simplified to a couple of sentences, giving you just enough of a sense of what is going on. STRAFE is all about gameplay. There are gallons of blood to be spilled, hundreds of bullets to fire, and barrels to explode.
I tried the game several times. At the booth, the game actually had a fully working IBM keyboard, plucked from the golden era of Modern computers. After selecting your weapon, you are instantly teleported to the “Icarus” a devastated capital ship in Earth orbit. Your sole mission is to shoot the bad guys and survive. The fact that the game has the visuals of a Windows 95 launch title only enhance the sheer thrills of the game.
STRAFE plays like a game plugged into the artery of classics, such as Quake and DOOM. These games relied on sheer speed, watching your corners, and instance maneuverability. STRAFE does the same, by encouraging players to shoot everything at a rapid discretion. Enemies will come at you from all sides. Their sheer number and aggression is completely randomized, meaning every new experience is different from the next.
I found myself in a state of sheer thrill. By using the infamous WASD configuration, I had an easy time moving my character. Using the mouse, I was able to dispatch enemies quickly with accuracy. This does not mean they were easy, as they stopped at nothing to kill me! In addition to mutants, robots joined the fray. Unlike the mutants, they shoot back, making the situation more dangerous. Furthermore, the ship, as it is a decaying vessel, has a plethora of hazards that can be used to assist you or further lead to your demise. It is a quick gamble that requires repeat gameplay and skill.
Of the three times, I lasted for a few short minutes. The enemies were challenging, but watching their bodies splinter all across walls was quite satisfying. I also picked up explosive barrels and threw them at enemies like I was in a wrestling match. Coupled with the experience was an absolutely stellar music track that felt right at home with computer gaming of 1995. I was actually reminded of a game I played growing up, called Decent, a first-person spaceship shooter game, known for its gameplay and rocking soundtrack. STRAFE was a great time. At the time of death, the demo calculated my data, including gallons of blood spilled during my mission.
I had an opportunity to speak to a member of Pixel Titans during the show. He had mentioned about the development and their sheer passion for going forth and making a game greatly inspired by the original shooters of the 1990’s. In addition, he also hinted at more levels, new zones, and power-up’s in the final game, weapons will receive special power-ups to give them an edge. The weapons I had already tried were quite powerful. One favorite was the assault rifle that could fire rocket-propelled grenades at foes. I also managed to try out the accurately divesting rail gun. Another mention was the use of permanent skills and temporary perks to give the soldier a better shot at survival. These perks will be revealed at a later date.
STRAFE will be available on PC, Mac, and hopefully, Linux, in the near future.