By Ferry "Sadhonker" Adams on May 18, 2017
Okay, boys and girls, listen up! You'd better buckle up, because we're going to the farthest reaches of space in order to do what we Scrappers do best: Collect scrap! Let's not fool ourselves; this will be a dangerous and arduous journey, and some of you will be homesick and start crying for your mommies and daddies. But, if you are tough enough to take it, the rewards will be unimaginable. So, please sign on the dotted line to prove that you are an idio... that you have what it takes!
This inspirational speech was given to a couple of us when we were invited to join the Icarus, a humongous Scrapper colony ship, bound for those parts of the universe that no Scrapper has ever ventured into. Now, I am never one to shy away from a challenge, so I signed the waver they gave me and joined the Icarus crew.
What happens next is quite disturbing and I am quite confident that you will have to agree with me that I am fully in my right when I'm just a tad disgruntled about the whole situation. I mean, one may assume that THEY'D PUT STUFF LIKE THIS IN THE ADVERTISEMENT FLYER! But no, they didn't. If you have a moment, I will explain my current predicament. It started as any other day; I took my scout ship out on a mission. After finding absolute bupkis, I decided to call it a day and headed back home... or so I thought! Because where, just this morning, there still was a gigantic space ship, there was now a gigantic pile of nothing!
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, you heard me correctly; the Icarus was gone! Its teleporters, however, were apparently still in range and fully functional. I thought the guys were playing a trick on me, so I decided to use the teleporters, beam myself aboard the Icarus and give someone a serious piece of my mind! Just before I entered the teleporters, I discovered a couple of gun racks. I thought: "what the heck" and selected a nice, new shiny gun. After stepping through the teleporter, I found myself aboard the Icarus once more, but quickly discovered that not all was well...
It might be hard to believe, but all of this happened back in 1996! Well, not really, but when I started playing Strafe, it did put me in mind of those glorious First Person Shooters of that era. Strafe is basically a homage to these games and utilizes the same graphics, sounds, controls and gameplay. As you enter the Icarus, there is no sign of its crew and an eerie silence fills its deserted halls. Well, I say deserted, which is actually true for the first 3.56748 nanoseconds. Almost immediately after boarding the giant spaceship, you are attacked by wave upon wave of enemies that are all out for one thing and one thing only: your untimely and bloody demise.
You, of course, will not stand for this and start making good use of the weapon you've selected before entering the teleporter. The trick to Strafe is keep moving and hope you hit enemies before they hit you! Although this is true of most FPS games, Strafe adds a few elements that make it quite a bit trickier to play than most games. First up, the levels are randomly generated. Seeing as how your main task, apart from not dying, is to find the exit of the level you are currently running around in, this definitely adds difficulty to the game. If you die just before reaching the exit and are planning on just retracing your steps the next time around, think again. The entire level has changed, so you're back to square one.
Another feature that makes surviving a more pressing matter is Permadeath. Yes, if you die, it's game over. There aren't many places in the levels where you can refill your health, so a keen eye and a overactive trigger-finger are almost necessary when trying to successfully complete any level in the game. There are health terminals you might come across. These handy machines refill your health and increase your chances of survival. But don't count yourself lucky yet! There aren't many of these terminals around, so make good use of them when your find one! Same goes for weapon terminals that grant you random upgrades for your weapon. Not all of these upgrades are as useful as you might have hoped, but then again, others are nothing short of awesome!
As you make your way through the levels, you can find money and scrap. Scrap is used to upgrade armor and weapons, while money can be used to buy stuff at shops. My tip for you, experiment as much as you can with upgrades and items to gain an understanding of which item or weapons work best for you preferred play style. Run, jump and shoot your way through hordes of enemies and paint the walls with their blood... literally!
Every enemy you defeat, increases the total amount of blood you've spilled. Now, this is also true about most games, but do you know of another game that tells you exactly how many gallons of blood you've spilled already? I though not! Well, Strafe does and, what's more, lets you indulge in a little interior decorating while playing. Blood spraying around will literally paint the walls red, giving the inside of Icarus the appearance of a very unsanitary slaughterhouse.
Visually, Strafe looks like a blast from the past. It draws most of its inspirations from games like Quake and Doom, although the art style is most reminiscent of the former of these two games. Low poly enemies, giant explosions and an electric soundtrack that will linger in your head for a few days after you've stopped playing manage to give Strafe that cool 90's feel that some of us (if you're about my age, that is...) know all too well! It is a high-speed thrill ride, filled with action, cool weapons, tons of anomies and gallons and gallons of blood.
If you're a fan of FPS games and don't care for next-gen graphics, Strafe should be right up your alley. The game doesn't offer much in terms of new ideas, but what it does, it does perfectly! After completely obliterating more enemies than you could shake a stick at, I can only come to one conclusion: Strafe is an awesome game that is absolutely jam-packed with fast, frantic, funny and fantastic 90's goodness!