VR gets its sprint on with Stride later this month. The Mirror’s Edge-inspired free-running game is coming to Early Access in August, but we’ve already taken it for a test run.
Stride’s pre-release includes an Endless Mode that has you darting over rooftops, getting as far as you can before either taking a long tumble to the ground or getting taken down by snipers. It’s a chance for the ambitious game to stretch its legs before adding in other modes. Here’s three things we love about the game so far, and three things we hope to see improved.
3 Things We Love About Stride
Running & Vaulting
Running and vaulting are two of the three core pillars of Stride (we’ll get to the third in a bit); they’re two actions that need to be as intuitive and instant as possible to maintain the game’s seamless sense of flow. Fortunately, they both work great. You walk with your controller’s sticks and run by then waving your arms as if you were jogging. Vaulting yourself over a ledge with your hands, meanwhile, feels incredibly natural and player-driven. When you’re alternating between these two mechanics, Stride has genuine rhythm and elegant pace, which is no small feat.
Stride’s best features revolve around its physicality. Running and vaulting are part of that, but it’s the more unexpected features that we like best. The game’s Endless Mode, for example, features Snipers that need to be dodged. When their lasers glare into your eyes, you know it’s time to dodge left or right. There’s a dash of Pistol Whip-style chaos to it, but it crucially feels like its own vital layer to the game, and a native VR addition to the Mirror’s Edge formula.
Sliding & Grappling
Everything we just said about dodging Snipers applies to the game’s sliding mechanic too. To slip under obstacles, you need to quickly squat down, mid-run. It adds an unexpected twist to the game’s pacing, making sure to keep you on your toes. Plus, there are grappling points that allow for Spider-Man-style swinging to traverse wider games. Add these elements into the mix and Stride has an active, athletic set of moves that make playing it an often freeing experience.
And 3 Things To Work On
Remember that third pillar we mentioned? Well this is it, and it could use a little improvement. Jumping is arguably the most important action in Stride. You’ll need it to grab higher ledges and, of course, leap over huge gaps. But the implementation here is a little tricky, requiring you to hold a button on your controller and then throw your arms forward. Most jumps will be taken during a run, too, so coordinating an arm swing when you’re already throwing them back and forth for sprinting ties your brain in a few knots. You do get more used to it with practice, but it never feels as seamless as the game’s other elements.
I’m hoping developer JoyWay can find a better way to implement the jumping, because right now it can serve as one big roadblock to Stride’s otherwise winning formula.
There’s no getting around it; Stride is an intense game from a comfort perspective. It was always going to be given its pace and athleticism, but wall-runs and slides can feel particularly jarring. Given how deliberate all of the game’s mechanics are, we wouldn’t expect to see any massive leaps forward in time for full release. If you’re the faint of stomach type, you’ll definitely want to use caution here.
Currently Stride is only releasing on PC VR headsets, but this definitely feels like a game that would really benefit from a standalone setup. I was constantly aware of my headset’s wire as I ducked to slide and threw my arms forward to jump (also use caution with Oculus Quest/Rift S’s upward-facing controller tracking rings). There’s not much JoyWay can do about that on PC, of course, but it does make Stride feel like a bit of a test lap on PC.
Will you be picking up Stride when it touches down on PC this month? Let us know in the comments below!