Have You Played… Strife?

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.

Yesterday’s Have You Played entry might be the beginning of a short trend. I’m thinking about the FPS games of my teenage years for fairly obvious reasons and some lovely games are bubbling to the surface of my memory. Today, it’s Strife’s turn.

As with Raven Software’s many releases that used id Software engines and pushed them to new limits, Strife was created by a studio working with id tech. Indeed, Rogue Entertainment were based in the same building as id and would later work on mission packs for Quake and its first sequel.

Strife is the feather in their cap though. It’s an FPS with elements of roleplay and stealth mashed into its frame, and the whole thing is running on the Doom engine. While there had been first-person roleplaying games of note before Strife’s 1996 release (look to Origin, creators of worlds), the game’s dialogue and stealth sections didn’t wholly detract from its Doom-laden run ‘n’ gun foundations.

The game was re-released at the end of 2014 in a Veteran edition, which added support for higher resolution graphics along with other minor changes. I haven’t played that version though. Strife is one of those games I’m happy to leave in my memories, where it still seems like a promise of change.


  1. Unsheep says:

    They recently released it on GOG, but I haven’t had the time to try it yet, and I’ve never played it before. It seemed really cool though. Your description of the game is pretty much what I am hoping for, so that’s great to hear.

    It’s been a long time since I enjoyed a modern FPS, Doom (2016) and Wolfenstein TNO included, but it’s been great to experience these older ones, that I never got to play when I was young.

  2. wooster84 says:

    Strife is the pretty much the definition of a lost classic.

    • Ancient Evil says:

      Not lost anymore, since it’s on Steam and GOG now. “Cult classic”, certainly. Honestly, I had never even heard of it before the re-release, but I bought it and I’m glad I did.

      • epeternally says:

        Do you have any tips for getting started? This is the only major Doom engine game that I’ve yet to play (well, I never finished Hexen) and I generally like shooters from the period, but the gameplay here just seems really fiddly and unintuitive every time I try to get into it.

  3. Det. Bullock says:

    I’ve never even heard of it until now!
    Whishlisted on GOG.com.

  4. eightohnine says:

    Oh hell yeah did I play Strive… the demo that is. Little kid-me was hooked by the tech-fantasy-rebellion-story-shooter-mashup. Unfortunately I never got around to experience the full game. I vaguely remember my mediocre PC just being able to handle the demo, but the full version of the game, which I obtained through some obscure schoolyard-warez-CD-swap, was too much. Later I switched to a Mac, so playing the classics for a long time was out of the question. Thus Strife remained a cool but brief part of my gaming childhood. Insta-bought the Veteran edition, but as so many games in my Steam library, it’s still waiting to receive a serious playing.

  5. Barberetti says:

    Played and enjoyed the demo, but never got around to the full version. I think I’ll rectify that tomorrow.

  6. INCSlayer says:

    Strife was actually my first PC game. I Still have my original CD Manual and the Info sheet/town map that came with it. I also have it on Steam.

  7. vorador says:

    Missed it when it came around (i got into PC gaming just when Quake was released) but i’ve heard good things.

  8. loveblanket says:

    I made an account here just to comment on this game. Strife is easily the most criminally underrated game of the 90’s, if not one of the most underrated of all time. This was an incredible mix of FPS and RPG that had the best aspects of both. I’m so happy to see this game get another chance to gain the recognition it deserved 20 years ago. It is also a chance for me to finally finish the game as I kept hitting a bug that prevented me from completing it. Apparently it was a random bug that had a chance to show up, or not, but I got it 3 times in a row. Fairly late in the game, I finally gave up, but even with that giant misstep this one still holds a place in my heart. Definitely worth picking up for cheap on GOG.

  9. Greg Wild says:

    It was an interesting game. The first half was fantastic. Like Doom, only you could talk to some of the monsters. It had a nice setting too. It fell apart in the final act IIRC, becoming a pretty straight up strafe ‘n shoot. There was one awesome set-piece battle towards the end I think that said. You and your rebel friends stormed a castle. Back in the day, that was impressive.

    • phlebas says:

      Not only did you storm the castle, it became your base after that and you could go back and see the abandoned tunnels where your base used to be. Environmental storytelling in a 1996 FPS!

  10. Rogerio Martins says:

    The game is amazing, damn it was Half Life before half life was a thing in terms of story.

  11. Sin Vega says:

    As with all games ever made, I played it briefly during my abandonware days, but by then it was a real bastard to get running well and I never properly explored it.

    Ross Scott (aka Freeman’s Mind) did a slightly overlong but decent retro video piece on it a few years ago here: link to accursedfarms.com

  12. PancakeWizard says:

    Yay Strife! This was the true Deus Ex precursor!

    • Spacewalk says:

      It’s more like a Half-Life 2 precursor only in an 80s future meets fantasy cartoon setting.

  13. April March says:

    I didn’t. But I read the Crap Shoot on it. That’s like playing it, only wittier!

  14. Whelp says:

    Even finished it!
    Back then I used ZDoom, it’s a source mod for the Doom engine that gives you pretty much the original graphics with some modern features (such as being able to run it on anything but DOS and mouselook and stuff.)

    • Spacewalk says:

      I actually found a boxed copy in a store a few days before the first ZDoom release that had Strife support. Very timely.

  15. RuySan says:

    I got this game on one of those pirate cds filled with ripped games and this one was a revelation. I remember something about being stick on a late boss and not be able to finish the game though.

  16. malkav11 says:

    Yep. Have it on CD. Played I believe the whole thing on the Pentium 100 that was handed down to me when my grandma replaced her computer back in the late 90s. It was quite impressive, considering.

  17. icemann says:

    Ancient Dos Games (the youtube show) did an episode on this game only a few days ago. Simple-ish to run the DOS version via dosbox.

  18. phlebas says:

    Not only did you storm the castle, it became your base after that and you could go back and see the abandoned tunnels where your base used to be. Environmental storytelling in a 1996 FPS!