Woulda, shoulda, coulda.
Strife is a fascinating use of the Doom engine, but it never quite succeeds at what it wants to do. While the world the game takes place in is interesting and vibrant, the overall feel to the game is that it isn't quite as finished as it should be. Certain important elements simply aren't there in enough detail to really make the game work.
The world of Strife is an interesting blend of fantasy and science fiction. While your first weapon is a dagger and the second is a crossbow, the crossbow bolts are electrified. Your main enemies are religious fanatics, which seems like a Medieval theme, but there is evidence that becomes more and more apparent that they are not fully human, and have been at least partially mechanized.
All of this is cool. It's weird, to be sure, but the game's designers did a nice job of selling it just by making the whole game world reflective of both sci-fi and fantasy. While the town buildings are large, stone, castle-like structures, they drip with electronic gizmos.
Naturally, since the game uses the Doom engine, actual gameplay is simple and comfortable. There are a number of additional key commands, but they don't often come up in the real heated moments of battle. The graphics are a little blocky, but are good enough to more than get the point across. The character faces that pop up when you actually interact with someone rather than shoot them are very nicely done.
Even the plot is cool. You, as a mercenary, have come to a town oppressed by the religious group The Order. However, since they are in charge and aren't paying, you've opted to take the side of The Front, the resistance group. Once you contact them, you get paying jobs, as well as the ability to use their increasing technology to help you out.
Where the game fails is in the actual structure of the missions. You are in contact with an operative named Blackbird who is supposed to be guiding you through your missions. However, she usually only pipes up to make a sarcastic comment or two, and leaves you to fend for yourself. Because of this, you frequently have to run through a mission to figure out where everything is, then reload your saved position and run through it for real.
And speaking of saved games, you're only allowed one per character. One. Which leaves you very little room for experimentation. To experience some of the possible different turns you can take, you need to start up a new character and try again, or play the whole thing straight through.
As it stands, Strife is a good game, a fun game, and thanks to the engine, a very playable game. It's not, however, a great game, and it's one that you'll forget not too soon after you finish.
Graphics: Good. Evocative and interesting to look at.
Sound: Good voice, the rest is workmanlike.
Enjoyment: The game is fun, the plot is interesting, but it becomes confusing. The lack of help after having it promised to you doesn't help.
Replay Value: If you can figure out what to do, there are several different paths to take.
In the distant future, the Earth is ruled by a group of people who call themselves "The Order". Many disasters have plagued the planet, and after many wars, misery, and death, the Order controls people's lives and deprives them of their freedom. A rebel organization has been formed, seeking to overthrow the Order and whoever else might be behind their rise to power. Somewhere in the depths of a ruined Town Hall, a group of people who oppose the Order's regime welcome a lone wanderer to become the one who will free the Earth from terror.
Strife is a plot-driven first-person shooter that uses the Doom engine. Rather than taking the player through a linear series of levels, the game offers a continuous world with free-roaming elements and a central "hub" (the town), which the player can visit between missions and explore. Although there are no true role-playing elements in the game, it has several features rarely seen in contemporary FPSs: there are "friendly" areas where there are no enemies but people to talk to, stores where new equipment can be bought, and taverns where the latest gossip is told. The player can also purchase upgrades that permanently increase the player character's health bar.
The game has a branching storyline with a few paths that lead to three different endings. These paths are determined by a decision the player makes during the course of the plot.
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