Reinstall: Strife

No, not that one.
This one:

Strife_Header

I might make this type of post a regular thing – replaying games I haven’t played in years to see if they still hold up. Strife (or Strife: Quest for the Sigil, to use its full name) was originally released in 1996 by Rogue Entertainment and was one of a slew of games to use the Doom engine around that time. I came across it purely by chance – I received it as a birthday present from a non-gamer friend that thought the box looked interesting. Good call, friend!

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Count those pixels.

Strife recently got a buff and a polish, and a re-release on Steam under the guise of Strife: Veteran Edition. Fueled by nostalgia, I immediately bought it, recalling the deep, vast gaming experience I had with this game in my youth. Five hours later, I was, um, finished. It wasn’t nearly as deep or as vast as I had remembered…

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At least the rats are cute.

It’s still a very good game. It’s one of the earliest examples of the FPS/RPG hybrid genre. You may have heard of some later ones. System Shock 2? Deus Ex? There are hub levels where you can explore, talk to people, get quests, and restock your ammo supplies. There are branching missions (sort of – more on that in a bit), lots of dialogue, and a storyline filled to the brim – well, not quite the brim – of intrigue and backstabbing. It being a shooter of the Doom era however, there are also plenty of maze-like levels of identi-corridors, baddies to shoot, and guns to collect.

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Don’t mess with a man that has a gun protruding from the center of his chest.

It’s a mixed bag of a game. I love it, but a lot of that is down to nostalgia. It’s got some awfully confusing, maze-like levels (the sewers… oh lord, the horror…), the automap is ATROCIOUS (I spent HOURS lost on some levels as a kid, although the Steam edition does improve the map drastically), and the enemies aren’t particularly interesting. The ‘branching missions’ I mentioned earlier are usually ‘do what I say, or don’t and immediately die.’ But it’s got some great points too: the storyline is relatively intriguing, the writing is generally excellent, and the voice acting is pretty decent too. The highlight is Blackbird, your constant companion (via radio), who is always ready with a scathing quip at inappropriate moments. It’s also the earliest video game that I remember said ‘fuck’, which as a young kid, was pretty much all a video game needed to do to get my attention (even GTA shied away from that word until San Andreas).

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Don’t trust this guy. He’s an asshole. Look at that face.

It’s a good game. The Doom engine still feels great even today, and the Steam edition does a great job in fixing a lot of the original’s flaws. It’s not too expensive either – currently £6.99 on Steam and I imagine it’s the kind of game that will go on sale a lot. If that’s not enough to convince you, it’s also got an awesome flamethrower.

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