STRAFE was created and developed by Pixel Titans that originally started as a Kickstarter project in 2015. It was well received for it’s awesome low-poly design and it’s crazy marketing campaign of it’s insane pop cultural references of the 90’s. It was supposed to be released in the same year. But it was inevitably delayed over the course of 2 years. Finally, we see STRAFE in the blood and flesh in 2017.
STRAFE is a Science Fiction FPS game with Roguelike elements. You play as a scrapper who’s been hired to work on the Icarus to collect scrap material in space. You, the main character heads off into a mission and when he comes back on the Icarus, something seems wrong. So you come in and (*cough* “NOT DOOMGUY!” *cough*) comes in and try to annihilate the threat and figure out what’s going on.
Before I get into the negatives I would like to get into the positives.
STRAFE has some gorgeous looking low-poly designs I’ve ever seen. As much as it tries to capture the 90’s first-person shooters of that era, it does have some well defined touches that makes low-poly look cool and hip. It’s lacking accuracy of looking completely like an old-school classic but I actually enjoy their prettier looking low-poly design and completely support this.
When you start off on the Icarus, you have 3 choices for the weapon you want to start off with. You got a shotgun, machine gun, and a plasma rifle and offer various abilities on how to destroy those crazy alien monsters on the ship. Once you have your choice you’re now going to enter in a procedural generated level. You have 4 zones total and each one has 4 levels each.
Along the way of your extremely violent adventure you’ll see various degrees of zombie-like alien mobs chasing after you. While some are robots and some weird grey alien thingies shooting at you. The more you venture through the more varied the enemies will be.
While the difficulty amps up so does your arsenal of weaponry. You collect scraps that’s usually dropped by enemies or in chests. With scraps you can use them as cash for the in-game crafting stations to create either ammo, armor or purchase new weapons or improve them. You occasionally also find some ability powerups that enhance your speed, damages and so fourth.
The gore is absolutely bloodtastic. So much limbs and blood being flung everywhere, and their body’s just going limp is so amusing to see, each shot at the enemies were pretty amusing and ridiculously comically over-the-top. It’s very fun to shoot things.
My favorite mode that’s currently available is The Murderzone which is 10 zones of randomly placed enemies and try to survive wave after wave. A very Arcadey experience.
Probably the most entertaining part of it all is the Tutorial Mode. They take everything about the 90’s, and the VHS aesthetics and made the tutorial level so much more satisfying. Knowing that they captured the 90’s accurately was a really big nod.
Despite it’s inevitable flaws the overall concept of STRAFE being a Roguelite FPS game is actually quite fun and extremely challenging. And I’ll probably occasionally boot this game up from time to time to see if I can beat the game. But, this game does have some bad qualities that ruins the overall experience.
As of this writing, this game has some performance issues on the PC, and heard some unconfirmed reports on PS4 as well. The performance issues I’ve been having had some slight framerate drops, but nothing game breaking, just really annoying especially when a mob of aliens rush at you. This shouldn’t happen at all considering It’s a low-poly game and it demands a lot for performance. Even gamers who have reported their machine being top-notch gaming rigs have also been having the same issue.
And one of the more annoying issues is there’s quite a bit of bugs. So far, I’ve experienced weird moments of enemy corpses heads being stretched across the level, while some objects that I destroyed would block my path of me escaping a room forcing me to restart my level which was a stupendously negative experience for me. If it affects my way of playing the game that’s really bad.
As much as I love the enemy variation, I felt like they could have improved upon the AI. The Alien mobs that rush at you are completely fine to be honest. But some enemies that have guns should strafe or move around a bit. Once they see you they’ll shoot in place and periodically move towards you. However, it’s slightly forgiving the more you venture throughout the zones the more enemy variation should circumvent this issue, but still, the AI can be slightly improved.
Last but not least, they have left out some features I really wanted to play. They had 2 modes that should come out sometime this upcoming month which is basically The Strafezone which is daily challenges and The Speedzone which is obviously the speedrun challenge mode. Ultimately, it offers the core experience but is held back by it’s launch by some performance issues, annoying bugs and lacking in features.
Even though I’ve had an entertaining time with this game it’s also one of my biggest disappointments. I hope in the next several months this game will shape up to be a good one but for now this is definitely not a buy at the moment. I’m giving this game a 6/10.
STRAFE Official Website (1996 AF!)