INSOMNIA

Strafe (2017, PC)

By Ether Bunny 66 / May 14, 2017


Wow, this isn't the type of game I thought I was kickstarting. This is a terrible game. It tries to emulate the action of a '90s shooter but completely fails.
   To start off this game doesn't bring back that old school shooter feeling, it's a "roguelike" shooter. Think Realm of the Mad God meets Borderlands, you have one life and tons of cheap deaths.

   The fundamental play loop is fatally flawed. Since all enemies immediately zero in on you in a direct line, you are encouraged to run backwards while funneling them into narrow corridors for maximum kill potential. A game like this should encourage you to run into the fray and strafe around, but this game does the opposite.
   Health and ammo can both at times be extremely scarce, leading you to have to take each area slowly and methodically, clearing out each section while using cover. It's not a run-and-gun game like what the trailer would have you think,
   There is a ton of cheap damage, like enemies who blow up and spew acid all over the floor blocking your path leading to having to take damage, random and sometimes invisible fires everywhere, enemies who drop from the ceiling or trap doors that open when you are trying to use an upgrade machine, constant spawning behind you for cheap hits, heavy fall damage, the list goes on and on.
   It's a cheap and lazy way to add artificial difficulty. It doesn't add to the experience, on the contrary it detracts from it, it all feels very amateurish and like I'm playing a game that should still be in Alpha.
   Health is EXTREMELY rare and you can only find it if the RNG finds it fit to leave you a health pack station to grant back a very small amount of health.
   You can buy extremely overpriced shield packs that are almost worthless.
   The power-ups and weapon pickups are either useless or are worse than your default weapon. The weapons have no real "oomph" to them, they all feel awkward and lame to use, the shotgun does get better, but only after three or so upgrades (which are very rare, so good luck finding any). Enemies are ugly and boring and the physics are floaty and everything feels weightless.
   The game is a long slow cheap slugging fest, instead of an awesome fast-paced run-and-gun session I missed from the Unreal Tournament and Quake days, and if you try and play it like those types of game good luck getting to the third-fourth level. The only way to see the game through is sitting behind cover and slowly pushing forward.
   Levels are just randomly joined together square rooms with no semblance of level design at all. It really seems to be the trend lately... why make an actual game with carefully crafted hand-designed levels when you can just dump your assets into a proceduralizer and call it a day? UT and Quake and all were good because the base engine and guns and all were good, but also because the levels were well designed, i.e. not random. "Indie" devs need to wake up from this "everything needs to be procedural" nonsense. It has a place, but it's not in 90% of every game.
   And to add insult to injury, the game is ugly AF.
   I would normally be on the side of giving the devs a chance, but they've managed to fail 1996 quite well (more like 2000 with some of the FPS mechanics) while they have someone who was apparently two years old in 1996 determine forum policy with "goofy" allowed pejoratives and a forum ghetto that not even Paranautical Activity used.
   No need to throw money towards that.

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