I already did a fairly thorough review of the Dengeki Stryker demo from MangaGamer already so there is no need for me to reiterate what I said there already. But I felt I should do a bit of a follow-up article now that I have played the full game. While the MangaGamer demo is undoubtedly meaty I don’t think it tells the full story of game. This is not really MangaGamer‘s fault. All the game changing stuff always comes in the last fourth of the two paths in the story. So other than plastering a big disclaimer that “STUFF GETS SERIOUS SOMETIME AFTER THIS” or a list of spoilers after you play through the demo there was not much they could do. But I do feel it is enough of a change that I should update my review. I will try to avoid spoilers for anyone still thinking about buying the game.
Dengeki Stryker starts off very silly story where the heroes and the villains live next door to each other but cannot recognize their nemeses when they are not in costume despite the fact that Superman has a more convincing disguise than anyone involved. The battles start out as mostly bloodless and comical with a nice dash of action. In fact the whole mood is very jovial with a broad smiling sort of loving parody. I mean it is rather hard to take Jack seriously (especially if you read the ninja diary.) There are two paths you can go down and both of them take a similar twist. About three fourth of the way through someone gets killed and then the comedy mostly drops off and everything gets very serious and melodramatic. It is like someone hits the brakes suddenly at an intersection.
I will say I was also a little shocked how downright bittersweet both endings were. Depending how you want to interpret certain things determines how dark the endings are but still there are still major deaths in both endings and a distinct feeling that something very important was irrevocably lost. It really leads to the tonal shift being apparent. Had the last act been dark but the endings were bright I think the shift in tone would have seemed less dramatic. They would have merely add a bit of drama to create for a satisfying and exciting climax. But the bitter-sweet endings never let anything from the levity in the first three-quarters tie into the ending it terms of tone.
I’m hardly the guys who complains about tonal shift casually. I know a lot of people love to complain that Mawaru Penguindrum’s tonal shift of silly to dark comes out of nowhere. I call those people crumbums because that tone was always there and they just slowly brought the darkness more to the foreground as the series progressed. But Dengeki Stryker really just turns on the melodrama at a point and never stops running with it. I can’t say it ruined my experience but I can’t be ignored in a proper review of the game as a whole. Such a drastic shift in the narrative is pretty much poison to some readers.
I will also say this has to be one of the simplest visual novels I have played in terms of choices. You really only make three choices in the whole game all they all basically boil down to do you want Haruna or Sayaka. There are no bad endings or alternate paths. Heck they might as well just have hand a red and blue button at the beginning asking which girl you liked more. If you are just reading the story like a very colorful novel than this won’t be a problem. But it does take away from any real feeling that this is any sort of game even more that the standard visual night might have.
While we are at it I might as well discuss the sex scenes. They certainly exist. But I mainly felt they were there because there is this idea that visual novels need sex scenes. They are nothing really raunchy or disturbing. There is a fit of a fetishization and emphasis on virginity but nothing super perverse. They are both basically a night of passion before the big battle. The sex just seems to be there to be there. They even give you two more bonus sex scenes after you beat the game. They even feel more tacked on than the ones worked into the plot. It does feel like they were made very modular so that if the game had the opportunity to be ported to a platform that did not allow sex they could be removed without changing the narrative in the slightest.
Overall I had a good time with Dengeki Stryker. It was definitely a story that was a bit more off the normal well travel roads we see in a visual novel. The story was solid, the characters were fun, and music was amazing. I mean I asked MangaGamer if they were picking up the extended story pack called Chou Dengeki Stryker so I must have liked it enough to read more. Plus I am very curious who this new girl pictured above is. Hopefully this updated little review will help anyone on the fence about the game solidify their feelings with a clearer idea where their journey will end.