There’s a big city to explore in Strife.

The spice of life lies in its strife… or something.

As the last licensee of id’s old but gold Doom engine, Strife takes Doom someplace it’s never been before – into a living, active city inhabited by not just bloodthirsty monsters out to kill, but by peasants, tradesmen and people that you can actually interact with. While Strife isn’t very technologically advanced, its hybrid of first-person shooting with the CRPG gives it a new spin on a tired formula.

After a virus devastates Earth, technology has been placed only in the hands of the evil, all-powerful “Order.” You take the role of an outlaw drifter turned rebel fighter in a battle to overthrow the Order’s tyranny. There are a lot of archaic stone and wood structures mixed in with its huge techno, factory complexes. Some examination of this dystopian world reveals you have to do favors for the locals in order to see through to your ultimate goal, which is decimating the Order.

Strife is a game where it is actually beneficial to not shoot haphazardly. Throughout the game, you have to find contacts to talk to, and unlike Origin’s CyberMage you don’t simply act as a bystander to the conversation; you go through a dialogue tree of responses. It’s a cool addition, but rather primitive in execution – the game offers extremely limited responses, and the wrong choice in conversation usually gets you killed or trapped, forcing you to restart.

Similarly, if you kill the wrong person (or the right person at the wrong time), you could find yourself get stuck. You have to be extremely careful with saving as well, since you get only one save slot. Save after a bad call and you have no choice but to start from scratch. The AI of the game uses a half-baked stealth model – you won’t get attacked as long you don’t discharge your weapon or sound the alarm, but the level design isn’t always consistent. Sometimes you’ll enter somewhere you’re not supposed to be in and the guards won’t go into attack mode, but the automated turrets will.

3_1You can buy items, weapons, and armor from shops, or even get tidbits of info from the local tavern barkeep. There’s a lot of finding items to bring to someone in trade for keys, access and information in Strife, and it has to be said that the inclusion of an actively important story makes the game a bit more interesting. Strife even has Stamina and Accuracy stats which increase as you progress, giving it a primitive, though interesting character development aspect.

While the RPG aspects may give this game an unusual appeal that most first-person shooters lack, a string of crap design decisions and a faulty saving system turns Strife into one helluva bumpy ride. It’s definitely flawed in places, but it’s also original and sometimes even good fun.v

System Requirements: 80486DX2 CPU, 8 MB RAM, DOS 5.0

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