Strife is a game that I was only vaguely familiar with as it was made on the Doom engine. Strife: Veterans Edition is the modern port of the PC classic onto modern platforms such as the Nintendo Switch.
Thankfully, unlike DOOM I & II which had a somewhat rocky start with its Switch and other console ports, Strife: Veterans Edition seems to be a much better 1:1 translation of the original game. Of course, the game does include some nice but expected modern-day additions, such as gyro control options and widescreen support right out of the gates.
Nightdive Studios is quickly becoming my favourite porting house, right up there with developers such as Bluepoint Games. Like previous releases such as Turok and Doom 64, Strife: Veterans edition feels fantastic on the Nintendo Switch, with snappy and responsive controls, a high framerate, while looking good both in handheld and portable modes of play.
For the uninitiated, Strife originally came out all the way back in 1996 and introduced the world to what would go on to be one of the earliest examples of a First-Person RPG built using the same engine responsible for Doom. The world of Strife is a mix between classic medieval fantasy with sci-fi tropes and imagery that give Strife a rather unique identity.
Strife is an ambitious game, as it introduces NPCs, voiced lines of dialogues, cut-ins that feature unique illustrations for said NPCs, shops, a central hub world, and other classic RPG trappings that elevate the game from being just another Doom clone to being a game feels wholly unique for its time.
In terms of weapons, Strife: Veterans Edition features everything from a crossbow to grenade launchers. Unlike Doom, Strife requires players to find or purchase weapons using gold like any good RPG, while also taking into account things such as ammo and types of ammunition, which ultimately makes the game feel well balanced.
Combat in Strife Veterans Editon feels as one might expect, like Doom, which of course, is a good thing. Enemies can be unpredictable and fast-moving, but also avoidable as Strife is an RPG, in which many characters can be spoken with directly or even completely ignored via stealth options. In essence, Strife feels like Doom with RPG elements that feel well-realized and implemented.
As the name may imply, Strife: Veterans Edition may not be for everyone, as the game does indeed feel dated, with most objectives feeling obtuse at best, compounded by low-quality audio recordings which make it hard to discern, which can turn off those looking for a linear or guided experience. Even still, Strife feels surprisingly modern and fleshed out, particularly for those who like older styled games.
Despite its FPS facade, Strife is wholeheartedly an RPG, meaning that engaging in unnecessary combat will more often than not, lead to a swift death. Thankfully, Strife: Veterans Edition offers six save sloths, which can be used anytime during gameplay. Additionally, like any competent RPG, weapons, armour and other goods are generally earned by purchasing them for gold, or finding them strewn around the game world. In other words, those worried about becoming overpowered like the Doomguy can rest knowing that Strife feels well balanced in that regard.
The voice acting in Strife feels somewhere between Saturday Morning Cartoon to absolutely horrendous, but in a charming, 90s kind of way. The music, however, in Strife, is excellent, striking a balance between high-energy tracks that pump you up, to moodier and forboding pieces that give a great sense of atmosphere and tension.
Strife Veterans Editon is a great addition to the Switch’s library of classic releases. Although it might not live up to the likes of Skyrim or any other contemporary RPG, the title still holds up surprisingly well for a 1996 game that utilized the Doom engine.