Strider

EDGE - - GAMES - Pub­lisher Cap­com De­vel­oper Dou­ble Helix For­mat 360, PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox One Re­lease Out now

360, PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox One

Well, that’s one way to solve a prob­lem. Our time with an in-de­vel­op­ment build of Dou­ble Helix’s re­boot (see E261) raised con­cerns over how much dam­age Strider Hiryu took. That’s still the case: our hero is fast, flighty and pow­er­ful, but he’s a glass can­non. Dou­ble Helix’s so­lu­tion? Health pick­ups are every­where.

At the start any­way, when a slight early moveset means Hiryu needs all the help he can get. Things soon change, how­ever, the de­sign­ers en­sur­ing you’re rarely more than half an hour from a new abil­ity. As Hiryu be­comes stronger, so do his foes. By the time you’re fully tooled up, the drones that spent the open­ing hour po­litely fir­ing weedy ma­chine guns at you are rid­dling you with lasers in­stead. And while stan­dard cy­borg grunts are eas­ily dis­patched – the but­ter to your Cypher light sword’s knife – right up to the end of the game, some carry shields that can only be de­stroyed with a charged at­tack.

Those shields will later change colour, invit­ing you to switch be­tween your four Cypher pow­ers us­ing the D-pad, with Hiryu’s scarf and sword trail shift­ing hue ac­cord­ingly. Your de­fault red slash re­flects bul­lets when pow­ered up, or­ange sets en­e­mies on fire, blue freezes them in place, and pur­ple sends out a boomerang pro­jec­tile. Each also grants you ac­cess to new ar­eas – the blue Cypher, say, freez­ing a rapidly re­volv­ing door in place.

Com­bat’s not all melee, ei­ther. Op­tion pow­ers are your spe­cial moves, sum­mon­ing help to at­tack ev­ery­thing on­screen. Most use­ful is the Dipo­dal Saucer, a se­ries of plates that or­bit you, pro­tect­ing you from mis­siles and loosed off as pro­jec­tiles. It’s a vi­tal tool in the boss fights that punc­tu­ate the Metroid­va­nia rhythm. There are screen-fill­ing nods to the se­ries’ early days – ro­botic drag­ons and go­ril­las – but the fights against hu­man en­e­mies are de­light­fully pure bat­tles be­tween two movesets.

Games like this live or die on their pac­ing, on the rate at which new gear is doled out. Dou­ble Helix finds no small suc­cess here, while also en­sur­ing that Strider re­spects its her­itage. There are times when it leans too heav­ily on an­tiq­uity – check­points are er­rat­i­cally spaced, and you’ll of­ten respawn on the wrong side of an un­skip­pable cutscene – but with this and Killer In­stinct, Dou­ble Helix has po­si­tioned it­self as a sort of anti-Way­For­ward, see­ing retro IP not as an ex­cuse for chip­tunes and pop cul­ture gags, but a chance to up­date old games for mod­ern fans. Strider, then, is a sen­si­tive up­date for a se­ries many thought would stay stuck in the past.

The Pooh sis­ter boss bat­tles are a high­light, es­pe­cially later in the game when you’ll face off against sev­eral of them at once. Their char­ac­ter de­signs are a clear nod to Street Fighter – here’s Chun Li, for in­stance

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