Strife: Depleted

I’m making good progress in Strife, and confidently expect to polish it off this weekend. I have all but one piece of the Sigil, and my two upgradable stats are both one tick shy of maximum. I’m assuming that these things will change together — that obtaining the last Sigil piece will trigger one final upgrade opportunity before the end boss.

It’s getting difficult at this point, which actually surprises me somewhat. These older Doom-like games generally plateau in difficulty before they’re far advanced, apart from the occasional spike produced by bosses. You get stronger foes at more or less the same rate as you get stronger weapons. Past a certain point, things don’t get more complicated, and as long as you follow standard procedure, taking things room by room and not leaving anything alive behind you, you’ll come out okay. Later games had to come up with ways of keeping standard procedure from working — last year, I blogged about Serious Sam‘s gimmicks toward that end — but Strife didn’t. I talked about rising intensity of action in my last post, but that doesn’t necessarily correspond to rising difficulty: an abundance of loose ammo and healing items can make a pitched battle easy, and a lack of them can turn a sequence of minor skirmishes into death by a thousand cuts.

And that is in fact what’s happening to me. I’m using ammo faster than I’m finding more. This would be a good time to use the Sigil, which depletes health instead of ammo, if it weren’t for the fact that I’m low on healing items too. I had grown used to buying much of my equipment with found cash, but I haven’t seen any at all in the last few levels. Perhaps I should have hoarded it better. The Front’s home base is always willing to supply a certain amount of healing and ammo free of charge, but only if you’re below a certain threshhold, and they won’t bring you to full health, and it’s only machine gun ammo.

I should probably blame the Inquisitors. 1Yes, there’s a religious theme in the naming of the cyborgs. I’ve already mentioned the Acolytes, and there are Cusaders and Templars as well. Even the factory where they’re made is called the Conversion Chapel. Inquisitors are the strongest monster that isn’t a boss: large bipedal armored things, armed with missiles and capable of limited flight. They probably have a human brain somewhere inside them, given what we know of the Order’s modus operandi. I’ve only met a few of them, and only in the latest chapter. In one case, it’s possible that I was actually supposed to flee it rather than engage it: right behind it was a tunnel that it couldn’t fit through, but which I could reach unharmed if I sprinted. I engaged it anyway, from the relative safety of the tunnel — standard procedure, remember? Don’t leave anything alive behind you. This choice definitely helped later, when I had to cross that room again, but that convenience might not have been worth the immediate cost. It left me depleted and scrambling for ammo, and I’ve been scrambling ever since. I’m really hoping there’s a payday at the end of this chapter.

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1. Yes, there’s a religious theme in the naming of the cyborgs. I’ve already mentioned the Acolytes, and there are Cusaders and Templars as well. Even the factory where they’re made is called the Conversion Chapel.

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