Thanks to PLAYDIUS for the review code
Title: Strikers Edge
System: Playstation 4
Release Date: 01/30/2018
To be brutally honest, Strikers Edge is bit of a mess when it comes to the presentation. The music is decent, yet forgettable, but the developers decided to go for a pixel art style for the visuals, even though in the context of this game and the story it doesn’t really serve any purpose at all. It doesn’t fit with the music, it doesn’t seem to be inspired by anything or done in a way that feels like a proper throwback, and for the most part the sprites have little detail on the characters, with the only animations that look impressive coming from whenever a character throws a spear. (or whenever the Knight does anything, due to the design of his armor being more detailed than most of the roster)
The stages on the other hand are a lot prettier to look at, and the reliance on stage hazards seem to indicate that more time was focused in the design of the stages themselves than any of the characters, which outside of the impressive facial portraits that appear in this game’s version of an arcade mode, look incredibly generic and dull due to this done-to-death pixel art style. That doesn’t mean pixel art couldn’t have worked for this game, it’s just that in this case it feels like something lazily added without meaning instead of something that contributes to the soul of the game.
Strikers Edge is a competitive battle game where the main goal is to deplete your opponent’s health bar to zero by aiming and throwing spears at their face, all while trying to dodge their attacks. The controls appear simple at first, requiring the use of the back shoulder buttons for dodging and attacking respectively, (The attack can also be held down to charge it up and do a stronger version of the attack that varies by character) while the top row of shoulder buttons allow you to block enemy attacks (Although it requires really strict timing and you can only use it a few times per round) and use your special move, respectively, all as you use the joysticks to move and aim. (although the aiming on the right joystick is very sensitive, much to my annoyances) The game explains these mechanics in a very basic tutorial that only teaches you how to do so with one of the characters, and that’s it.
Good luck finding out the special abilities of the other characters without trying it for yourself, which you think would be simple, but surprisingly Strikers Edge managed to screw up one of the biggest requirements for a competitive game, by not giving the player the option to enter a training mode of any sort. If you’re a one controller, offline gamer type of guy then you literally only have the game’s single player campaign to play, which is really just a way of disguising a very basic arcade mode where you pick a character and defeat the others while a non-engaging story comes into focus. This means that if you want to try out any of the other characters with their own special moves, (as they all play differently from one another) you’ll have to constantly restart the campaign, play the first round as you get the hang of things, see how your characters plays before doing it all over again. Don’t even think about trying to do a quick match with the CPU in local play to fix this issue, as it won’t even let you fight the CPU in a one on one fight outside of the campaign, adding to a growing list of laughable design decisions for a game like this that should be engaging and inviting to newcomers from the get go, which means the only way you can easily practice a character, something that’s super common and easy to do in other competitive games is to plug in a second controller and fight an inactive player. If you don’t have one? Well, you’re out of luck.
Needless to say, once you go through the nightmare of trying to practice a character and find one you are good with, it;s time to try out the online multiplayer, which is where my next biggest issue with the game lies. The Online in Strikers Edge is touted as the game’s biggest feature… And that’s because it’s the game’s only feature outside of the campaign. I’m dead serious, not even the trophy list can save this game’s replay value, as a good majority of them are locked behind online matches and just require you to do certain actions a ton of times, from blocking, winning matches and countering attacks. There’s no extra replay value to be gained from the trophy list, but good luck even trying to get the trophy list, as when I tried to set up an online match in this game, I kept getting the same guy over and over again, and even then it required a long wait of 3-5 minutes to pair up with him! This would be somewhat acceptable if you were able to fight the CPU for practice while you wait, like in Pokken Tournament, but the game doesn’t even let you do that. Instead, you have to wait on the main menu with the only options available to choose from being a menu with your current gameplay stats and the options menu, so you better find something else to do besides playing the actual game, while you go wait to play the actual game.
Of course, server activity isn’t always something a developer can be blamed for as whether or not a game does well depends on the luck of the draw, but surely the developers could have added the aforementioned training mode and have players mess around and practice before fighting against a real person online? Especially with claims that it supports cross play between PS4 and Steam, and considering my bad luck with finding matches with different people, waiting on a screen doing nothing at all for most of the game is just not fun in the slightest. Even if the game did have a lot of players, that still doesn’t excuse the fact that there’s barely any content to see in this game, and outside of trophy hunting or inviting an online friend to a quick match there’s really not much to see here outside of the online mode and the campaign, and with little way to practice, there’s not much of a chance that you’ll be surviving for long in the online battlefield until you practice with trial and error, even though a training mode would have easy helped players get up to speed by being able to mess around with every character and their abilities.
In conclusion, Strikers Edge is a game that has a lot of missed opportunities and somehow manages to screw up on a massive scale by not implementing basic single player features or really any sort of actual content in general. The sheer lack of content for a game of this price is just astounding, and while they could have theoretically gotten away with it if the core game was solid and there were ways to practice against a CPU, (especially to try out the 4-Player Versus modes, good luck even getting a game of that started as I couldn’t get enough people for one online and I only had a second controller to mess around with) Strikers Edge just isn’t that interesting of a game. The concept of throwing spears and dodging your opponent’s attacks at a fast pace sounds like a cool, modern take on something akin to Super Dodge Ball, but when the game isn’t that fun and the content available (even for online players) feels like something you’d see from an early access game for the crazy price of $15, then something’s just not right. Games like this can be done a lot better, which is why I found it sad that I couldn’t get myself to enjoy this game at all.
I give Strikers Edge a 4 out of 10, and strongly recommend you either wait for a heavy price drop if this game seems interesting to you, or for actual, replayable content to be added. Preferably something that can help you practice or make the online waits a lot easier. Or you could just grab WindJammers instead for a retro-themed competitive multiplayer experience. I know these developers have made great retro throwbacks in the past, with promising games such as Splasher and the upcoming AWAY, so what happened here to make this game feel so dull?