Fight for the Front and freedom! Move out!
You are a wandering mercenary, led to the small town of Tarnhill by rumors of conflict between The Order, a well-equipped religious dictatorship, and The Front, the rag tag resistance movement. While searching for The Front you decided to take a brief rest somewhere that you thought was safe. The Order acolytes have been rounding up all suspicious characters in the area. Yes, you happen to be one of them. What they didn't expect, though, is the knife you keep concealed for situations just like this one...
A comet struck the planet, unleashing a virus that ran rampant and killed countless human beings. Those that were infected and survived began to hear the voice of a malevolent god known as The Entity in their minds, and began to worship it. They formed a cult known as The Order and began their conquest of the planet, using technology far superior to those outside The Entity's sway. Their brutal reign lead to the creation of The Front, a resistance movement dedicated to overthrowing The Order that, as of recently, has been stymied by their lack of manpower and The Order's technological advantage.
That is until you
came along, of course.
Released in 1996 by Rogue Entertainment, Strife
is the last commercial game to use Doom's
game engine (now officially known as idTech 1
). It featured hub-based levels
and small RPG Elements
such as cutscenes
, Dialogue Trees
, shops, a rudimentary leveling system
and an actual, relevant plot. Unfortunately it never received much attention or commercial success due to it using a more "primitive" engine compared to what was out at the time, and it was overshadowed by another game
that was slated to be released a month later.Strife
was considered abandonware
for a long time due to Rogue Entertainment no longer existing, and the game can be played on modern operating systems with source ports such as ZDoom. At the tail end of 2014, Night Dive Studios, the same company responsible for resurrecting System Shock 2
, has acquired publishing rights for the game, and on December 12, 2014, the game was re-released via Steam
as Strife: Veteran Edition
for Windows, Macintosh, and Linux-based PCs. This updated version of the game features many new enhancements such as high resolution modes and widescreen support, OpenGL rendering capabilities, dynamic lighting and bloom, rebindable keys, and restores lost features of the original game.
Not to be confused with the MOBA game of the same name.
This game features examples of the following tropes:
- Adam Smith Hates Your Guts: The quartermaster at The Front base will give you a few magazines of assault rifle bullets if you run out, but aside from that don't expect any hand-outs from him. Or from the citizens that you're trying to save from the evil empire/cult, for that matter.
- Apathetic Citizens: The locals don't particularly seem to care that a heavily-armed individual is wandering in and out of buildings that rather coincidentally end up suffering either catastrophic destruction or massive death tolls. For that matter, neither do the Order troops standing guard just outside. Hell, you can shoot people with poison arrows and punch them to death in plain sight of their friends or allies and most of the time they won't even move. However, acolytes will attack if they see you attacking a comrade.
- The guard outside the Sanctuary's front door will strongly object if you try to get in that way, but won't bat an eyelid if you come out of that door. He will also ignore you if you head towards the Sanctuary's river entrance, barely five metres away (fortunately for the plot).
- Annoying Arrows: The pistol-crossbow, at least, when loaded with electric bolts.
- Apocalypse How: Losing to the Final Boss results in all human life being wiped out.
- Mind Screw: Humanity has been wiped out in this ending, so who's doing the narration?
- Artificial Stupidity: While you do have allies, The Front's soldiers are only about as competent as The Order's. Which is about as competent as a Doom zombie soldier. In other words, not very.
- Particularly bad/laughable in that they'll do things that they themselves warn the player not to do in NPC conversations. "Whatever you do, don't stand too near the big robot with the flamethrower—oh hey, it's a big robot with a flamethrower, I'll just run right up to it so I can't miss my shots!"
- Awesome but Impractical: Yeah! Grenade launchers! Awesome! They even fire two at a time! Except that, unless you're fighting in a wide-open area (in which case you should just be using the mini missile launcher,) the grenades have a very bad habit of hitting any damn thing in the architecture and bouncing right back in your face, and you don't have a choice in firing two grenades at once, which is done with a slight delay, and the grenades are launched off-center, making it the worst weapon to use from behind cover, because either you blow yourself up with it or you stand out of cover just long enough to safely fire it and get shot anyway.
- Bavarian Fire Drill: Pulled off by the Player Character a couple of times.
- BFG: The Mauler, a combination energy supershotgun and radial plasma bomb launcher.
- Bifurcated Weapon: The Sigil, some assembly required. Any given piece functions perfectly fine as a weapon, it grows more powerful the more pieces are combined.
- Black Comedy: "First they slaughter thousands, then they want all able bodied peasants for unspecified... tests. How does The Order expect me to keep the peace? What the hell do you want?" Seems like nothing special, but the skill with which the Governor's Voice Actor delivers it with makes it easily one of the funnier lines in the game.
- Also of note. "I stole an ID from the corpse of some fool who fell into the Reactor's Coolant Pit. Blat, instant deep fry... Tell whoever asks that you're the replacement worker for Mr. Crispy. It's just dumb enough to work!"
- And many of Blackbird's one-liners, such as "Y'know, from the outside this place looks tiny" and "Let's make Mr. Ugly twist and shout!".
- Blade Below the Shoulder: The Punch Dagger, although it is held in the hand.
- Boss in Mook Clothing: Inquisitors. Cyberdemon-sized robot soldiers that can fly with jetpacks, who have as many hitpoints as some of the bosses, and grenades that deal incredibly heavy damage. Depending on difficulty, there are only four to seven in the entire game.
- But Thou Must: Most of the time, when someone asks you to do something you basically have two options: "Yes, I'll do it" and "I'll get back to you on that." Except of course for the times when you have three options: "Yes, I'll do it," "I'll get back to you on that" and "no, I won't do it, but please cause dozens of guards to spawn in and shoot me dead so I learn my lesson."
- Noticeably, it is possible to make the game unwinnable doing this. Harris's mission comes to mind (see Moon Logic Puzzle below).
- Cast from Hit Points: The Sigil uses life energy to function. The more pieces, the more health it takes. Fortunately, your maximum health does increase as the game goes on.
- Catch Phrase: "Fight for the Front and freedom! Move out!", given by Macil after sending you on your latest mission.
- Catch-22 Dilemma: Averted. You gain Sigil parts by killing Spectres — which are invulnerable to all weapons except the Sigil. Fortunately, you gain your first Sigil part by killing the Programmer, and unllike the later bosses you don't have to face his Spectre immediately afterward. In fact, you only get to face and kill the Programmer's Spectre sometime later, after you've already gained your third Sigil piece — and then only if you're on the "good" walkthrough path.
- Climax Boss: The Programmer. Up until now, you've been setting things up so that it's possible to attack the castle, which is an enormous Disc One Final Dungeon.
- Comet of Doom: It brings the plague which gives rise to The Order and sets the plot in motion. It turns out to actually be The Entity's spaceship.
- Crate Expectations: Well duh, what kind of game do you think this is?
- Curb-Stomp Battle: A lot of the bosses after The Programmer seem to fall into this category, at least before the Spectres erupt from their bodies, forcing you to kill them with The Sigil.
- Cute and Psycho: Blackbird. At times she's a bit too enthusiastic about watching you gun down dozens of enemy troops and explode critical infrastructure...
- Cycle of Hurting: Averted. Doom featured featured inescapable pits of poison or lava that slowly drained your health. Strife added falling damage to the engine so that you'd just die on impact instead.
- Dead All Along: Attacking the Oracle reveals that under its robe is a human skull on a non-human body. Oh, and its Spectre then attacks you.
- Death Course: The Training Facility.
- Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: You know The Entity? Malevolent godlike being worshipped by countless members of The Order, creator of The Sigil? You kill it.
- Disintegrator Ray: The Mauler. The first NPC who brings it up even introduces it as "the weapon that vaporizes." Blackbird is strangely excited by the prospect of you getting one for yourself.
- Downer Ending: Either of the two "bad" endings to the game.
- Dressing as the Enemy: You need to locate an officer's uniform before you can infiltrate an Order base. Or at least, before you can infiltrate it without setting off all the alarms.
- Before that, when you go to the Power Station's Reactor Core to destroy it, although your wearing of an environmental suit is primarily to stop you succumbing to radiation poisoning, it has the useful secondary function of disguising you as an acolyte. And then, a little while later (still before you get to steal a uniform for your own use), you steal a uniform for Weran so that one of his Ratpeople can impersonate the guard you killed for it, and thus prevent his being replaced.
- Dummied Out: Going through the .wad files reveal several unused resources, such as graphics for a gas grenade and some bits of voice acting that were never used.
- Evil Empire: The Order.
- Evil Weapon: The Sigil. Made by an evil god? Check. Created to corrupt the people of the world into evil desires? Check. Worshipped by a jack-booted empire/cult? Check. Uses the wielder's own life force as ammo? Check.
- Fire-Breathing Weapon: The flamethrower.
- Gameplay Ally Immortality: Shopkeepers and major plot-essential the Front's leader Macil and the Oracle can't be killed before you're supposed to be able to kill them, even though you can shoot everyone around them, often in their presence. Meanwhile, a lot of minor NPCs that you encounter that you need to talk to in order to progress can be taken out. Fortunately, the programmers have taken this into consideration, often by having them drop the item that they'd normally give you or by hiding a switch in the room that opens the path that they'd normally open for you.
- Grappling Hook Arm: Used by the Loremaster to fling you around the arena in which you fight him. Not that painful on its own, but when you consider that you're probably standing on a tall ledge when you're fighting him, well...
- Heroic Mime: Averted. While he only grunts, screams, and lets out the occasional "nope" when pushing on a wall, the Mercenary is fully capable of communicating with other people via dialogue windows... you just don't hear him say anything.
- Infinity+1 Sword: In Veteran Edition, there are three colored talismans to find. Collecting them all upgrades your punch dagger into a One-Hit Kill on almost everything in the game. Finding them all, however, requires some painstaking effort.
- Interface Spoiler: One of the achievements in Veteran Edition has a description that outright spoils the fact that you have to defeat Macil. Even better? The achievement's name is "Trust No One".
- It's a Wonderful Failure:
- When you die in the fight with the Big Bad. Here's what it looks like.
- Any other time you die, you fall to the ground as you spin to face your killer, just like Doom and all the other games that use its engine.
- Lose your life to flames (Either the Crusader's attacks, or walking into your own White Phosphorous grenades) and you can control the last few seconds of your life as you run around on fire. (With the brightness turned up to full) No, jumping into water won't help.
- Kill 'em All: This happens when you lose to the Final Boss.
- Kill It with Fire: You can get a flamethrower that's been jury-rigged from the parts of one of the Order's robots. Unlike most video game flamethrowers, it acts more like the napalm squirt guns that flamethrowers usually are in Real Life rather than just a short-ranged cloud of flame. Mostly due to technology limitations, but who's complaining?
- There's also white phosphorous grenades available for the grenade launcher.
- La Résistance: The Front. With whom you fight for freedom. Move out.
- Large Ham: Every single voiced character. In a good way.
- Living MacGuffin: Several NPCs; one early NPC is even called MacGuffin. This is noted on the Doom wiki as a possible Shout-Out.
- Ludicrous Gibs: Thanks to the good old Doom engine, humans and acolytes can blow up quite nicely when hit with a powerful enough attack. Special mention goes to townsfolk, who practically liquefy.
- Man in the Machine: Templars. They are human soldiers of The Order like the Acolytes, but their bodies have decayed so much from The Entity's virus that they need to be wired to a robotic Powered Armor with life support in order to live.
- Megaton Punch: With enough stamina implants, you can punch people so hard they explode into a shower of meat.
- In Veteran Edition, collecting the three talismans exclusive to that version allows you to One-Hit Kill anything with your punch short of a boss.
- Mission Control: Blackbird, your Voice with an Internet Connection, once referred to by PC Gamer as the sexiest thing to ever come out of your PC speakers.
- Mook Maker: Inverted; you can find and/or buy teleporter beacons that spawn in Front troops to help you. Unfortunately they're only good for a momentary distraction and the ammo they drop when they (inevitably) die.
- There is one other good use for them. Unlike your assault rifle shots, their gunfire won't set off alarms. If you set a trio of beacons off in the middle of Tarnhill, you can wreak havoc on the local guards without prompting waves of reinforcements to teleport in.
- Played straight by the Conversion Chapel: this is where all the Order's troops come from. Humans go in the huge machine, and partly-robotic Acolytes come out.
- Moon Logic Puzzle: A man at the tavern asks you to steal a chalice from the Order's sanctuary and bring it to the governor for a reward. This will probably get you killed when the governor locks his office door and sics several dozen Order mooks on you. (It's possible to get out through the window, but you'll still get killed.) It's a pretty bad idea, though you wouldn't figure this out unless you talked with the guy you were sent to kill by another man and managed to put two and two together. This happens only once and right at the beginning of the game, though, so even if you screw up you're only out five or ten minutes. Later on, you can actually perform said quest and STILL complete the game. Not advisable under any circumstances, but still...
- Notably, doing this early on makes the original game unwinnable since after finishing a few Front missions, you need to talk to the Governor to get your next mission. If you picked up the chalice at all, even if you dropped it, he'll lock the doors and sic a wave of bad guys on you as soon as you try to talk to him. You can escape through the window, but cannot advance the plot. In Veteran Edition, on the other hand, the Governor will instead have you knocked out and dragged back to the start, after which you can continue the game normally.
- Multiple Endings: 3 endings total. The two big ones hinge on whether you kill The Oracle or Macil first. As for that other ending? Well, I hope you saved BEFORE fighting The Entities.
- You'll know you're screwed out of the good ending if Blackbird is the Entity when you reach the last level.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: The governor can send you on a mission to investigate and destroy a tap connected to the local power main. What you aren't told is that it's The Front's power tap, and Blackbird isn't too happy with you if you break it.
- Nintendo Hard: This game loves to screw you. Most enemies either use hitscan weapons, or fire very fast projectiles with almost no telegraphing. The game is remarkably stingy with ammo and health pickups, and even when it isn't, you're still going to burn through them in no time because damage from the aforementioned weapons builds up quickly, and even the weakest enemies take a surprising amount of hits to kill (acolytes will take about 10 hits from an assault rifle to kill, and the clips they drop only give you 5 bullets back.) Sure, you can go back and buy weapons, ammo and armor, but that requires money, which you can only get in sizeable quantities by clearing missions. If you get stuck on a mission with no pickups and no money, tough shit. And sure, if you're stuck with low health and no ammo, you can limp your ass back to base for some free healing and ammo replenishment... except that the people in charge of that are just as stingy as the rest of the game. The medic will only refill your health halfway, and the guy in charge of weapons will only give you 20-30 bullets; just enough to kill 2-3 acolytes. And as mentioned elsewhere on this page, if you even think about deviating from the path the game sets out for you in any way, bam! You just rendered the game Unwinnable.
- To be fair, in at least some levels the pickups aren't exactly thin, just well-hidden. The Power Station in particular is full of items — nearly all hidden behind waterfalls, in secret cupboards, etc.
- No Fair Cheating: Probably not outright intentional, though. Due to numerous Event Flags and required plotline items, level warping and cheating can really screw up the game.
- Warping to the final boss directly will automatically get you the worst ending, since you haven't triggered the condition to get the better ending. Not to mention the final boss is immune to everything but the Sigil, which isn't given to you by the All Weapons Cheat.
- Cheating to get the Sigil earlier than you should can leave you locked out of the game, since holding the Sigil automatically moves the Front Base to the castle, and the gates to the castle are locked at the beginning of the game.
- In the Veteran Edition, cheating disables achievements and thus kills at least half the fun of the game.
- No Sidepaths, No Exploration, No Freedom: A variation. The game certainly offers the illusion of freedom, but the player finds very quickly that if they don't do this exact chain of events at the exact right times, the game is easily rendered Unwinnable. Hell, right at the start of the game the player is offered a sidequest that turns out to be a Red Herring and renders the game Unwinnable if they complete it. There's exactly two moments where you're allowed to decide for yourself what to do, but even then, if you pick the wrong choice with the latter, you're stuck with the bad ending.
- No Woman's Land: Because of their use of cybernetics and assimilation, the Order is entirely uninterested in reproduction, and kill women and children on sight. As a result, all the planet's surviving women and children are hiding in underground shelters. Your guide, Blackbird, could be the only woman still alive... unless "she" is actually The Entity playing with your mind.
- NPC: Notable in that an early FPS game featured NPCs that aren't trying to kill you: peasants, shopkeepers, and plot-relevant characters.
- Orcus on His Throne: All the Order ever does in the game is basically being there and maintaining buildings so that you can infiltrate them and massacre everyone. "Our castle conquered by La Résistance, one of our higher-ups killed, his important artifact captured by the mercenary? Eh, I suppose we should be taking action, but maybe later, when we feel more like it". This could be because you're moving so fast, and some NPCs do comment that the Order is likely planning a retaliatory strike.
- Poisoned Weapons: In addition to the standard electric bolts, the crossbow can fire poison bolts, which are a One-Hit Kill to organic targets and won't set off the alarm, or even alert closeby enemies.
- Power Crystal: A decent amount of Order equipment seems to run on these. They all tend to make rather satisfying explosions when you shoot them, too.
- Precision F-Strike: There isn't a whole lot of cursing in the game at all, but when you witness Macil's descent into Sigil-induced madness and self-perceived godhood first-hand, Blackbird lets loose the game's only f-bomb:
Macil: I am the one God! I need his spirit to be free, so that I can leave my body and join him in flight! You have no idea what you possess, and what terror you've faced! The one God must be free! He will reward me... I will be one!
Blackbird: Sick fuck... Waste him!
- Refrain from Assuming: The game's full title is "Strife: Quest for the Sigil" (or "Strife: Veteran Edition" in the re-release), not "Strife: Trust No One" as the box art might lead you to assume (and as the GameFAQs walkthrough erroneously calls it). Although in the Veteran Edition, the full game is called "Quest for the Sigil" and the demo game "Trust No One". To add to the confusion, one of the achievements in the full game is also called "Trust No One".
- RPGs Equal Combat: Averted despite being one of the first FPS/RPG games. In addition to improving your killing skills there were NPCs to talk to, stores to shop at, a decent storyline, and multiple endings. And then your ability upgrades were rewarded from progressing the story rather then killing your enemies.
- This is still hampered by the fact that, in the end, Violence Is Still The Only Option. Even in stealth segments, you're going to reach an impassable tripwire and set off the alarms, forcing you to gun your way through the rest of the mission.
- Save Game Limits: On release, you had only one save slot. You could save as often as you wanted, but good luck if you saved next to a boss while being low on health or ammo. Even the producers found this to be too harsh, and removed the limit in a later patch.
- Which didn't help, since although you now have the six save slots of any Doom-engine game, you still only get one per game — your only choice is which you use. Far better to play using ZDoom, or better still play the re-release from Steam, and truly remove that limit.
- Schizo Tech: Medieval-looking towns and castles full of robot guards and armories where crossbows (with electrified bolts) and flamethrowers sit side-by-side? Sure, works for me.
- Script Breaking: The game can be painfully easy to break. From minor and recoverable things like going back to break the illicit power tap (and failing a mission you've already completed) to major things like killing the Sigil piece holders in the wrong order, which makes the game Unwinnable. There's only two 'official' sequences, one for the happy ending (Programmer, Bishop, Oracle, Macil, Loremaster) and one for the Downer Ending (Programmer, Bishop, Macil, Loremaster, Oracle) but you have access to two of the last four for the entire second half of the game and can theoretically kill them at any time. The game plays fine as long as you obey everyone's orders, but don't ever think for yourself.
- Shields Are Useless: Acolytes, the basic soldiers of The Order, are shown wielding shields and assault rifles. This has no effect on how much damage they take, and their enhancements make for a whopping 10 more hit points compared to the rebel soldiers they face.
- Sigil Spam: Literally. Thrice. The Order loves plastering the Sigil on everything. You can spam the Sigil until it kills you. Finally, the end boss can only be hurt by the Sigil. Hope you brought plenty of health kits!
- A non-literal example is a stylized comet symbol (a circle with three rays coming from it, two of them at about 45 degrees each side of the middle one) which occurs first on Judge Wolfnick's bedsheets in the prison, then on the Programmer's bedsheets in the Audience Chamber, and frequently thereafter (the vine-covered stonework in the middle of the Order's stronghold, the entire level of the Ruined Temple, holes in various ceilings...).
- Sleazy Politician: "There's a lying sack named Derwin who has been selling children to the Order. I won't tolerate that kind of depravity...not without my cut."
- Standard FPS Guns:
- Knife: Punch dagger. Stamina upgrades turn it into the Chainsaw.
- Pistol: Crossbow. Electric bolts are the weakest weapon in game. Poison bolts allow for stealth kills.
- Shotgun/BFG: Mauler. Fires in a spread and completely devestating at short range.
- Automatic: Assault rifle.
- Rocket launcher.
- Grenade launcher.
- BFG/Gimmick: The Sigil. Clears rooms and required to kill Spectres and the Entity.
- Sword of Plot Advancement: The Sigil, quite obviously. Heck, the game is even titled Strife: Quest for the Sigil. It is also required to actually advance the plot - only it can kill the bosses' inner boss Spectres, and only the Sigil can do anything at all to the Entity.
- The Mole: Macil.
- Title Drop: At the end of the opening narration.
Narrator: But there are wispers of discontempt. If we organise, can we defeat our masters? Weapons are being stolen, solders are being trained, a movement is born... born of lifelong strife.
- Trick Arrow: Electric bolts are the default, pistol-like, ammo for the crossbow.
- Unwinnable by Design: Killing the Sigil piece holders in the wrong order. Also, doing Harris' mission (to get the Chalice) before you talk to the Governor.
- The latter is averted in Veteran Edition, which will allow you to talk to the Governor regardless of when you do Harris' mission.
- Unwitting Pawn: The player in the bad ending, where it is made to seem that Blackbird was The Entity all along, and wanted you to gather the Sigil to release it.
- Updated Re-release: Strife: Veteran Edition features high resolution modes and widescreen support, OpenGL rendering capabilities, dynamic lightning and bloom effects, and rebindable keys and gamepad inputs. This version also brought back the game's missing features, such as the "Capture the Chalice" multi-player mode and objective markers for your auto-map.
- Useless Useful Stealth: On the one hand, the basic humanoid (non-boss) enemies will normally only be alerted if you use any weapon other than your punch dagger or the crossbow's poison bolts. But on the other hand, robotic enemies will always go pursue regardless. But on the other, other hand, many areas where getting through without a fight would be useful have alarms that will be set off simply by entering the place, or be filled with robots. Plus, poison bolts deal no damage whatsoever to robotic enemies (or Templars either), killing them requires either a noisy weapon or getting up close. Both choices tend to be painful.
- Although if the Templar is attacking you, you already set off the alarm.
- Videogame Flamethrowers Suck: Acts a little differently than most game flamethrowers due to the limits of the Doom Engine, looking more like a short-range napalm squirtgun. Still very short ranged, though sustained fire is quite damaging.
- Villains Act, Heroes React: Inverted. The Front is the active side of the struggle, while the Order is completely apathetic, apparently content to sit on its (their?) butt waiting for the player to come along and wreak havoc in their facilities.
- The Virus: It spread when the comet crashed. Those who don't outright die from it mutate. The mutations make them hear The Entity's voices in their heads, as well as causing their bodies to rot and decay at an accelerated rate. It's the reason behind everyone in The Order being either Cyborgs or Men In The Machine.
- Voice with an Internet Connection: Blackbird.