Strife 10 Feb 2024

Doom has stood the test of time as a great game. It's the output of a group of young, talented and passionate people who were all at the top of their game and wanted to prove that to the world.

A member of that original id software crew was Tom Hall who came up with the concept for Commander Keen and even created the art work for the first three games.

For Doom he created a detailed design document called the Doom Bible which outlined much of the story. His vision for the game leaned into the creation of more detailed environments such as barracks occupied by marines playing games of cards. This clashed with the desires of the rest of the team (John Carmack in particular) who favoured a leaner design and sadly ultimately lead to Tom's departure from id software.

Three years later in 1996 a game called Strife emerged using the Doom engine. Another first person shooter, but more some RPG elements and a more realistic environment.

Unfortunately it was overshadowed by Quake which released in the same year, making it's Doom powered game world look a little quaint by comparison. 

However for me I was blown away after playing the demo which provided a glimpse into a detailed and cohesive world

A key innovation was the inclusion of a town centre that acted as a hub allowed the player to purchase weapons, ammo and various other consumables. 

It also meant that entering a new level considered of simply walking through a transition area at the edge of the map. A technique that Half-Life would also use to provide a sensation of a continuous world, rather than a series of independent maps.

Another aspect that struck a chord with me was being brought into a rebel organisation and operating out of their hidden base. Discovering a hidden structure with training areas, a medical bay and various other individuals inhabiting it just felt really cool.

Very much like the beginning of Deus Ex when you're able to explore and interact within the UNATCO base.

As a kid part of this joy would also come from various attempts to wipe out everyone in the base! 

Perhaps not much use for progressing the storyline, but always entertaining to see how long I could survive for

I wanted to experience playing through this game again to see if I would enjoy it as much as I did 20 years ago, but first I had a choice to make.

Should I replay it on original hardware like my trusty Libretto and have an authentic experience? 

I was a little concerned that after so many years of enjoying more modern dual stick or keyboard and mouse controls, I'd have a hard time controlling it purely with a keyboard on my Libretto.

So I decided to invest in the Strife Veteran Edition (from remaster experts Nightdive Studios) and benefit from the ease and quality of life improvements this version and my Switch provides.

As you can see from the starting area of the game shown above on both devices there are some definite advantages to using a more modern approach.

Throughout my playtime I really did appreciate the little graphical flourishes, such as the green glow of the liquid radiating onto the pipework.

Something I find interesting is that the RPG aspect is really just a very light dusting. The conversations that you can have with various people don't really provide any real choice. Often picking the wrong option just means that you can't progress and may even get attacked.

But I think just the fact that you have another way to interact with the world beyond just shooting makes a massive difference. Seeing a portrait of an individual and listening to the fully voice acted dialogue really does make the game come alive.

  • Tags
  • Next / previous
  • Random?