Strafe hands-on: The old-school PC shooter you’ve waited for since 1996
New games are dumb. I’m into that old-school stuff because video games used to have attitude. Thankfully, Strafe is coming soon to provide the low-poly action I need.
Early next month, developer Pixel Titans will finally release Strafe, a game about feeling nostalgic for something that didn’t exist when you were child, for PC, Mac, and PlayStation 4 for $20. Strafe is a throw-back shooter that looks a lot like Quake, and Pixel Titans is fully embracing that 1996 aesthetic down to the core of this new game.
I finally got a chance to go hands-on with a preview version of Strafe, and I found a game that feels great and really does look like a shooter from an alternate version of the 1990s. Even at its highest graphical settings running at a 4K resolution, Strafe features a classical aesthetic. Low-res textures and blocky space mutants assault your eye and — if you have a beating heart — those visuals should get your blood pumping.
Of course, Pixel Titans also included options to drop the games resolution down to 720p, but it’s the “make Strafe worse” option that really does it for me. If you punch that toggle, the game will drop down to the equivalent of a 320×240 resolution. And playing that on a 4K monitor made me feel simultaneously absurd and alive.
When it comes to the action, the modes I have available in Strafe right now are run-based corridors where you go for as long as you can without dying. The guns look, sound, and feel like they’re from a Quake clone, and that makes for some deeply satisfying combat.
As someone who liked Devil Daggers, a similar kind of retro shooter that had a single arcade mode, for a weekend, I think that Strafe is the version of this concept I’ll respond to on a deeper level. It has more going on and it looks incredible.