Dodgeball is one of the few physical games that doesn’t get adapted to the video game world too often, something I personally consider to be a bit of a shame. Fun Punch Games attempts to change this with their latest title, Strikers Edge. However, even with its unique medieval style, Strikers Edge fails to properly execute many of its interesting albeit simple concepts.
Strikers Edge brings together a variety of pixelated warriors to take part in one-on-one or two-versus-two dodgeball styled battles. While Strikers Edge focuses more on its multiplayer aspects, there is a short campaign for each of the game’s eight playable characters. None of them adds up to much but they do offer a bit of an explanation behind why a Viking is fighting a ninja.
One of the more appealing elements of Strikers Edge is its visual style. The game’s characters and backgrounds are especially well animated. Strikers Edge is also rather colourful and vibrant, but a problem can arise when there are four players on screen at once, making it somewhat difficult to tell what exactly is going on and in some cases, even bring about some noticeable lag. The music used in Strikers Edge isn’t memorable but none of it was grating on the ears. The game does make good use of its sound effects, making each weapon throw, clash, and hit sound especially Impactful.
If I had to sum up Strikers Edge in one word, that word would be “simplistic”. When talking about games such as Towerfall or Nidhogg, I’d consider its simplicity to be a good thing but with Strikers Edge, it leaves me feeling unsatisfied. A typical Strikers Edge match has you controlling your selected fighter, aiming and throwing their weapon to hit your opponent until their life bar is drained. You can perform dodge rolls to avoid incoming attacks and if you’re really in a pinch, you can perform a limited use block if timed correctly. By charging the attack button, each character is able to use a unique special ability which does substantial damage if it lands. To keep players from constantly dodging or spamming attacks, both actions are tied to a rechargeable stamina bar.
Put together, Strikers Edge’s mechanics all work well enough but it doesn’t stop matches from becoming dull. This is especially true during one-on-one matches. While the dodge roll is necessary at times, attacks can usually be avoided by simply moving out of the way. This can lead to matches dragging on way too long with very little happening. The arenas in Strikers Edge try to mix things up with stage hazards but they don’t affect much. Team matches can be more entertaining but host different problems as well. With four characters on screen and nothing indicating which target reticle belongs to which character, targeting becomes unnecessarily difficult.
A bigger problem I faced during numerous matches were game breaking bugs. The most common was when I would use the ninja character’s special attack which has the character teleport across the screen momentarily for a close-range attack. After using the attack, I’d either be frozen in place, completely invisible or sometimes both. It cost me a few games and frustrated me enough to stop playing.
Despite multiplayer being the main draw of Strikers Edge, the same bugs and will still persist that can totally ruin the fun. A bigger problem with the game’s local multiplayer, however, is that unless you have three other friends gathered, you’re going to be restricted to one-on-one matches as there’s no way to have AI controlled teammates. This is especially odd considering the game’s single-player campaign modes will occasionally pair you up with an AI helper. While online play is an option, it can be hard to find a match with the game’s small user base. To make things worse, facing anyone with a less-than-stellar internet connection can cause lag which completely hinders the experience.
Strikers Edge introduces an interesting concept but does little beyond that. Anyone looking for a solo experience will likely be disappointed by the game’s short single-player campaign. With a few friends gathered, multiplayer matches can offer some fun so long as you don’t encounter any of the game’s bugs but even then, the game faces potential lag whether online or offline. As interesting a concept Strikers Edge is, there isn’t much to keep players coming back.
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