With a growing push for better graphics, more detailed character animations and intricately designed environments, it can be nice sometimes to go back to the roots. To when people and trees were 2D images that swung to face the player as to look realistic. When walls were perfectly flat and when pixelated graphics weren’t a bad thing. Well, enter Strife. Modified from the original Doom engine, it’s a first-person shooter set in a skewed past where castles mark the skyline and faceless soldiers in shining armour guard sealed doors, but futuristic weapons of mass destruction, rocket launchers and grenades are commonplace.
After escaping from your guarded cell, you must find a way to survive in the wild world outside of your prison door. You will soon get sucked into the conflict between The Order and the Rebels, and eventually be quested with the task of recovering the many pieces of a powerful, mystical weapon that, if brought together, could cause great devastation.
Back in its day Strife innovated by making its world more of a sandbox area than something segmented into levels. This means you centre around the main town as a hub, and then complete missions going outside of the castle walls. In fact, it is seen as one of the first games to embrace the idea of an FPS-RPG, and advanced on the run-and-gun nature of Doom.
But something that was great ‘back in the day’ doesn’t mean it’s still fun to play today. As expected, the graphics are poor – or ‘retro’ if you will. This was before we had the technology to motion capture faces to create realistic facial animations. Character models and movement aren’t motion-captured actors, more flat and pixelated sprites.
Of course for those who are old enough to remember the Doom-era will enjoy the blast-from-the-past aspect to Strife’s graphics and style. It plays beautifully on the Mac, with all aspects intact from the voice acting to the fanciful weapon effects.
One good thing is that nothing feels like filler in Strife. Each mission has a worthy goal and actually affects the storyline. They tend to be quite long which prevents you from burning through the story in a fortnight.
Gameplay is enjoyable. Strife feels better when you are exploring, or breaking into a high security prison, or searching the sewers for a beggar’s settlement. The combat seems more like a fun extrusion from the exploration, which makes up for the main bulk of the game.
Where Strife predictably fails to keep up with today’s titles (the code can’t time travel), what stands is a solid adventure-FPS that is a trusty port of a brilliant PC game. There’s no question of the porting job with this one. Bugs are few and far between and the story – whilst not very original to today’s standard – is interesting enough to keep you going.
If you’re looking for a lengthy and cheap retro title to add to your collection, look no further. Nothing but the Doomster himself could topple Strife as one of the best retro games on the Mac App Store at the moment.
Publisher: Javier Chavez
Price: $3.99 (£3.99)
Description: Back to the Roots of FPS/RPG
Pros: Great port of a great PC game, lengthy and cheap.
Cons: Those who don’t like retro won’t like Strife, easy to get lost.