Dengeki Stryker Review

Dengeki Stryker Featured

Dengeki Stryker Logo

Developer: OVERDRIVE
Publisher: MangaGamer
Platform: PC – MangaGamer*

Like many of my age group, I was in love with the Power Rangers as a child. There was something about these “super sentai” heroes that enigmatic, yet entirely alluring about them. Perhaps it was their total and complete coolness that sucked many children into their world. For a while, I probably even wished to become a Japanese-style superhero. Unlike those who let those dreams fade as they grow, Yuuki Yamato was unwilling to relinquish his dream. One day he comes upon a mysterious Memory Collector who will grant him any wish at the price of every memory he has. Yamato agrees and becomes Stryker Zero and thus begins Dengeki Stryker.

Dengeki Stryker Screenshot 1

Before delving into this visual novel review, here is a brief description of the genre for confused readers. Visual novels are a genre of video game that focuses primarily on storytelling with text (and often voice acting) and accompanying images. As one progresses through the stories, there are moments that allow the player to make a choice between various options. Choices can often change the direction of the story, but not always. Overall, they are like multimedia-rich novels and encompass a wide variety of genres.

Dengeki Stryker is unlike many other visual novels. It eschews the expected tales of ordinary high school students in love. If you’ve ever read a shonen manga (ex: Yu Yu Hakusho, Bleach, Naruto) then you already have an idea of what to expect here. As Yamato has become the hero he aspired to be, he possesses incredible powers and must use them against evil. In this case, evil empire Balbora has sent a team of cyborgs to Japan to gain intel about their military might. Once that’s taken care of, they intend to take over the otherwise peaceful island nation.

As with any hero, Yamato must carefully shift his time between that of an “ordinary citizen” and the cybernetic hero Stryker Zero. Once aware of the Balboran threat, he assimilates into the local high school hoping to ferret out clues. There he meets a teen named Haruka who knows the two were best friends as little kids – but he remembers none of it. With new dilemmas to take care of, he finds it harder to keep his two lives apart. Will someone find out his secret? Will those around him get hurt? It’s hard not to be kept on edge as the storyline progresses.

Dengeki Stryker Screenshot 2

This is thanks in part to the strange cast of characters. Yamato himself is quite odd thanks to his hero mindset which makes him seem practically alien to his classmates. Then there is the troop of Balborans who are all ridiculous, paying homage to the likes of children’s manga villains. The mature Captains Murray and Daniel don’t seem too weird but the others are less grounded. For example, Warrant Officer Joseph is an adorable dog that speaks in a deep, masculine voice. There is definitely a lot of silliness in Dengeki Stryker but not so much that it destroys the tension. Unlike some children’s manga where the villains never present a true threat, there is definitely reason to worry with this villainous crew.

Despite having a very shonen-style appeal, there is still romance found in the story. However, it does feel a bit sudden and forced once it finally crops up. It’s a shame because it almost feels as though some portion of the story were cut out. As it stands, we get a very brief lead into romance which is ultimately culminated with a sex scene. There are no ways to skip it if you’re not inclined to watch, and the MangaGamer release is presented without mosaics.

As with many other visual novels, Dengeki Stryker offers a handful of choices as they play. Perhaps it would be better to call this an illusion of choice, though. The story is basically set in one path and therefore choices do not take you down alternate pathways. Choices actually just let players work toward 100% CG collection and not much else. There are only three choices in the first storyline, so it isn’t as if they inundate you with options anyhow.

Dengeki Stryker Screenshot 3

The first storyline is known as the Zero Saga. All players are required to experience this six to ten hour plot first. Once it has concluded, Heaven Saga opens up. This version has Yamato pursuing the other love interest instead and is recommended viewing for those who enjoyed the game thus far. It too has three choices but they don’t alter anything in the long run. After completing the second arc, a third and final one is finally playable. Titled Sky Saga, it removes all choices and simply presents one final story to flesh everything out.

Even if the action-packed story is interesting, I can’t help shake the feeling that parts were still removed from the final product. The change from villains being more of a goofy nuisance to legitimately dangerous is about as quick as the blossoming romance plot. It’s possible that this complaint is resolved in Cho Dengeki Stryker, which is an expansion pack that adds new storylines. However, having not played that yet it is impossible to weigh in on.

Setting aside the storyline that sometimes feels stuck on fast forward, there are still many reasons to enjoy the game. For one, the writing is well done and keeps you interested. Beyond that there is the excellent art. Although character sprites are not animated, a real sense of excitement is executed thanks to a multitude of action packed CG scenes and even some animated segments. The anime cutscenes in particular look very nice and used sparingly enough to make you really pay attention once they crop up. The inherently static nature of visual novels does not inhibit this tale at all.

Dengeki Stryker is a very fun visual novel which is why it was so disheartening to see it end so soon. Considering the skill many shonen series have in extending themselves on and on, I honestly expected the same from this one. Perhaps that is a good thing as the game is unable to wear out its welcome. In either case, if you’ve been searching for a visual novel focused on action and battles versus sappy trysts then Dengeki Stryker should be added to your list ASAP.

Score: 3.5

3 1/2 out of 5 alpacas

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