Opinion

QuakeCon 2016: Hands-On With ‘Strafe’

Devolver Digital and Pixel Titans brought their wild arcade shooter Strafe to the exhibitor floor of QuakeCon 2016.

Texas-based media publisher Devolver Digital is on hand at QuakeCon this year to present two games to attendees. What seems to have taken over most of the floor, Shadow Warrior 2 can be played at numerous exhibitor and vendor booths, alongside the intense classic arcade shooter Strafe.

From developer Pixel Titans, Strafe originally debuted as a Kickstarter project last year. After a successful crowdfunding campaign, the project was later picked up by Devolver Digital, publishers of the Serious Sam franchise, Hotline Miami and the upcoming Shadow Warrior 2.

I had the pleasure of experiencing a new build for Strafe earlier today, despite the hosting PC having Windows-related issues. Strafe will easily appeal to fans of older shooters, as the most obvious influences lie in Doom and Quake. The title has a unique less-than-subtle 90’s attitude, reflected in the cheesy live-action tutorial sequence, the pulsing soundtrack and frenzied gore-infused gameplay; the flair even extends past the game itself, landing in a Strafe “banned commercial” online:

Strafe is a bizarre subject- a mid-90’s FPS developed in modern times. The low-resolution textures and overall “blocky” appearance induce the idea that this was a game packaged alongside Windows 98, and not in the current Steam marketplace. Apart from the classic outdated charm, the environments serve as a fantastic canvas for the insane amount of permanent blood and gore effects.

A mix of old-school shooters and rouge-likes, Strafe features randomly-generated levels, ensuring players never have a repeat experience. The QuakeCon build featured three traditional default weapons to select- shotgun, assault rifle, railgun- however random weapons could be obtained through the course of the demo from loot crates or the occasional fallen enemy; though severely limited in ammo, one particular weapon allowed for instant kills, regardless of where the enemy was shot. As players speed through the procedurally generated areas, they may come across Scrap piles; found in item boxes and other random locations, Scrap can be used to craft ammunition, weapon upgrades, health and armor packs at a crafting station, however players need to stay alert as enemies can still strike while the station is in use.

If the demo is any indication, players are in for a fantastic retro-infused gore-fest in early 2017 with Strafe.

Strafe will release in early 2017 for both PC and Mac. It wasn’t present on the exhibitor floor, however Strafe will also feature a VR mode with Oculus Rift support.

Image courtesy of Pixel Titans, Devolver Digital

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