Disclaimer: We were given access to an early build for preview purposes by the developers.
We’re not out of the woods yet when it comes to retro shooters, not that I’m complaining. We’ve got Quake Champions on the way, Unreal Tournament still under development and free to boot. On top of that we’ve got indy devs who are happy to add to the nostalgia trip in their own special way. Enter STRAFE by Pixel Titans, a procedurally generated shooter in the style of the original Doom and Quake but with a much lighter tone, albeit just as gorey. Perhaps even moreso if you consider we now have the suitably named Uber-gore tech 2.0 available to us through the wonders of modern code wizardry.
Once the game launches you’ve given a view of what seems to be a space station office of sorts. This is the main menu and more familiar interfaces lie beneath the ‘options’ panel on the left, with yet to be implemented features like a tutorial, and extra game modes to the right. You’re actually directed to the tutorial by a set of post it notes stuck to the central monitor which is a great way to encourage reading the manual but moot at this point due to it being a stripped down preview build. The process name in Windows itself is “SharewareRough”. No kidding, as there are quite a few bugs. I am positive, that most if not all of these will be worked out before the eventual release though as the game has been delayed by several months now, and to be honest, prefer news of a game being delayed than news of a horribly buggy release.
When jumping into single player you find yourself standing in a room with 3 pods in front of you, each of which holds a gun. Pick your poison, machine gun, shotgun or laser and get to work by going through to the adjacent teleporter room. Or blow yourself up with the explosive secondary fire of one of the weapons when you’re testing them out, which teleports you to the first level armed with nothing but your fists, like I did. Thankfully there is a wrench handily positioned inside an unlucky astronaut’s skull just outside your arrival point so make sure to pick it up if you don’t take a gun through the teleporter.
Most of the enemies are fairly unimposing but their random positioning and unknown numbers are what should keep you on your toes. It’s also pretty easy to back yourself into a bad corner. Considering the maps are random, it’s impossible to learn the layout of any given level. I do find myself constantly looking up to make sure there aren’t any of the wall/ceiling huggers waiting for me to walk underneath as they constantly catch me off guard though.
The weapon system is interesting. As I mentioned earlier you get a choice of 3 guns at the start of the game or you can walk (die) through the portal and go manmode with nothing but the wrench. You will however come across a variety of weapons that have a single load of ammo. Pistols, machine guns, grenade and rocket launchers as you’d expect but apparently quite a few more that are hidden and only available later in the game. All of which will be turned into makeshift weaponry when they run dry. This is cool if only for the fact that I haven’t seen it done before. You will consistently find ammo for your main gun but when your secondary weapons go empty, tossing an empty pistol at a grunt and caving in anothers head with a spent rocket launcher is endlessly entertaining.
I’m looking forward to the extra content that’s coming with the full game as well, a speed run mode, daily challenge with a seeded map that all players go play the same and a survival mode. Unfortunately there are no plans to expand the game further with modding and multiplayer but that can’t be helped with such a small dev team. My advice is still to give it a shot when it releases in May if you’re into arcade FPS games as it’s not only fun, but funny as well with a lot of smaller details that have been added in purely for laughs.