We continue our spotlights of visual novels on Steam with a look at Cho Dengeki Stryker, the longest VN on Steam right now and MangaGamer’s first release on the platform. With 30–50 hours of action, fighting, animated cutscenes, slice of life shenanigans and something extra outside the all-ages version, Cho Dengeki Stryker is one of the few localised titles that makes you remember all the things you love about visual novels.
Yuuki Yamato is a kid who knows exactly who he wants to be in life: the powerful, endlessly cool cybernetic hero of Japan – Stryker Zero! With fists that can summon lightning and the powerful Stryker System in his body, Stryker Zero is Japan’s leader in the battle against filthy gaijin invasions. After another attempt to be like his comic book hero to protect his childhood friend Haruna, Yamato finds that he still can’t achieve his dreams. That’s when the mysterious Memory Collector appears and offers to make his wish come true in exchange for his memories. Ten years later, as Japan’s amnesiac hero springs into action, Yamato must do battle with the newly arrived villains of the Balbora Empire while trying to regain his past.
This endlessly long visual novel is broken into six sagas (much like routes), where you play through a forced order to get the girl and understand more of the story. Cho Dengeki Stryker (a definitive version of Dengeki Stryker) adds three more sagas to the game’s original three to flesh out the visual novel in a variety of new ways, giving routes to other characters, introducing someone entirely new to the game and wrapping up the other sagas. Whether you’re caught up in the surprise side route to the common story or slice through the game like Stryker Drive: Shusui, there’s plenty of story to get into, old and new.
“Shadow, I’m entirely new to this game. Tell me about how I save the world with my choices.” My good friend, this game is like the action manga it adores; you simply enjoy the show and choose which volume to read next. More seriously, this game knows exactly where it wants to go and doesn’t feed you small choices that have no real consequence. In comparison to something like Fate/Stay Night, this game gives you less frequent and slightly vague choices that contribute to which girl becomes the focus.
Cho Dengeki Stryker is equal parts slice of life comedy, hot-blooded action and serious contemplation. While the comedy is well done and the slice of life moments cute, it doesn’t stray from eventually dealing with the main questions that are brought up by its premise. It’s rare to find a VN where it’s not all one thing all the time and balances its tone. Even though some school scenes can go on for a while, Cho Dengeki Stryker really gets things right with its mix of humour, chuunibyou action and Yamato being awkward to everyone around him.
Of course, it’s all the extras that makes Cho Dengeki Stryker shine. The full voice acting (featuring Ogata Megumi, for those with a keen ear) gives a great touch to every scene, while the newly directed fight scenes makes action feel like it has impact. Everything from the soundtrack to the effects to the large amounts of CGs to the different story branches come together wonderfully for a story that in itself is pretty great.
Cho Dengeki Stryker is a comic book action hero visual novel with your choice of all-ages or 18+ flavours. While the game was originally 18+, the removal of those scenes has barely any impact and the story and production values more than make up for anything missing. The game is a lengthy story that spans many routes, features many characters and has equal parts action, comedy and drama. If you’ve fallen out of love with visual novels after certain recent events, Cho Dengeki Stryker is the kind of title that could rekindle your passion.
Cho Dengeki Stryker is available on MangaGamer’s website in its all-ages version, 18+ version and hardcopy version. Those who order any of these versions will also receive a Steam key, but if you’re lazy, you can get the game on Steam for £ 26.99 / $34.99
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