With conflict raging across the galaxy, a secret organization has been formed to try and preserve peace – the ARGO EXPRESS. Follow the story of an operative and MCR as they travel across four different worlds to respond to distress signals.
Steel Strider is a run-and-gun game with similar style to the games of old such as Super Contra and Turrican. You play as an operative of ARGO EXPRESS, a MCR (Manned Combat Robot), who must respond to a variety of distress signals. You’ll travel to four planets (including Earth) as you watch as things start to go downhill, all while battling giant robots and escaping explosions.
While I was playing, I found the story to be largely forgettable. You’ll get mission briefs on occasion between levels – particularly between planets – though you’ll need to be a bit of a speedreader to try and read it all in time. If you aren’t interested in the story (or, perhaps, are replaying the game) you can simply speed up the text to clear it out faster.
The big meat of Steel Strider comes in the gameplay. When you start, you’ll be able to choose one of four difficulties – Easy, Normal, Hard, or Insane. I choose to play on Easy since this isn’t a genre of game I’m used to playing. I’m not sure how it is on higher difficulties, but even on Easy there was some points in the game I was simply struggling, either from a lack of ammunition or from a lack of health packs. Checkpoints also don’t feel frequent enough, especially in the later levels.
Once you’re in control, you’ll have access to two weapons – your blade attack and a handgun. While progressing through the levels, you’ll get new weapons (and then upgrades for those weapons), each with a varying power level and usefulness. Some are useful for mowing down enemies, while others will help you blast bosses to pieces. As I said, ammo did feel a bit limited at times, often coming in when you really needed something else.
Steel Strider is divided into different sections, with each world having 10 areas. Checkpoints are extremely sparse, especially for those playing on Easy, often leading to you needing to redo large sections of a level if you die. This can sometimes even involve having to constantly re-fight a mini-boss if there’s a difficult section right after it. Due to the ammo feeling a bit limited, especially for the more useful weapons, you’ll need to do a lot of ammo management to make sure you are able to clear everything.
This ammo management really comes to light during boss fights. While after the main boss fights I would always get a half health and ammo recovery (likely due to playing on Easy, I haven’t tested the higher difficulties), during the bosses themselves I would start running very low on ammo. The main useful weapons for these sections – the rockets, lightning, and raygun – are all on fairly limited ammo amounts. There’s also the grenade launcher, which can be really devastating if you’re actually able to land a hit.
Perhaps it was due to me not being used to this style of game, but the aiming did feel a bit off. I would have my aiming line points at where I’d want to hit, but the actual shots would be hitting somewhere below it. Considering most bosses have only one particular “weak spot” you can hit, this did get to be a bit awkward. The grenade launcher was the worst with this, with it being extremely hard to aim and having a really short arc for launching. It was great if you’re able to land it right into a bosses’ face, or perhaps even get a decent arc on the enemies below/in front of you, but I often found myself just missing with it.
As far as controlling Steel Strider, you have two options – mouse and keyboard or controller. I tried the controller option at first, but the aiming seemed really stiff and I eventually moved over to mouse and keyboard. The game did launch with a bug that caused the jump and shoot button to be linked, and while I did manage to get through the majority of the game with it, it was quickly patched, allowing for much smoother control with this setup. While I typically do prefer controller controls, I found myself liking the mouse and keyboard control scheme a lot more, just because it was easier to aim with it.
Steel Strider is worth checking out if you’re a fan of this style of game, some of the issues in it were a bit annoying, at least for me. Constantly having to redo a long difficult area, only to die right at the end, led me to a few rage quits. Steel Strider is only around an hour long, and while I don’t feel there’s a high degree of replayability, there’s definitely some there. If you’re looking to get all the achievements in it though, you’ll run into some issues – a number of them are currently bugged and are simply not obtainable. While the asking price is fairly low, unless you’re a fan of this style, it may be worth waiting for a sale if you aren’t already a fan. Hopefully the achievements issue will be fixed soon, because it is a tad weird to have the achievement for completing the game on Easy but not the achievements for beating the final boss and completing the game.
Steel Strider Review Score
Steel Strider is available now on Steam.
I would like to thank NYU Media for providing me with a key for review.