The tagline publisher Devolver Digital settled on for the retro shooter title Strafe is “Bleeding Edge Graphics And Gameplay ©1996” so naturally, you play as a rugged space marine careening down starchy, Quake III-textured corridors leaving an endless trail of disemboweled alien gristle in your wake. It's a game made for circle-strafers, by circle-strafers. I’m imaging a room full of grizzled FPS vets in the midst of a eureka moment after one of them says “what if we made a Doom game where you could aim up?”
But that game already exists. It came out last year. The 2016 Doom revival proved that you could build a throwback PC shooter without caching it in deliberately bad graphics and a jocular name, which makes Strafe is somehow less biting or self-aware than the franchise it’s supposed to parodying. It’s still fun and I’m excited to play more, it just also has remarkably bad timing.