Streets of Rage is an iconic franchise from an era of gaming long gone. It’s quite refreshing to see that it has made a comeback in the form of Streets of Rage 4 thanks to Lizardcube, Dotemu and Guard Crush Games. The franchise’s signature beat ‘em up gameplay makes a triumphant return albeit somewhat marred by some slight mishaps. Here’s why Streets of Rage 4 just slightly misses the mark but is still definitely worth playing.
In Streets of Rage 4, players will take on the role of 1 of 5 characters. Axel, Blaze, Cherry, Floyd and Adam are the playable cast this time around and each have their own unique skill sets. Players will pick a character and take to the streets of Wood Oak City in a quest to take down the Y Syndicate.
The story of Streets of Rage 4 is not one to write home about. Don’t expect anything profoundly deep or intellectually engaging. The main premise behind the game lies in the beat ‘em up action gameplay and that’s exactly what you’re in store for here. The graphic novel-esque cutscenes are visually great though and perfectly tie in with the game’s overall aesthetic.
Players will initially only be able to pick one of 4 characters with Adam only being unlocked after a few levels. Each character’s moveset features a range of normal attacks and special attacks. Additionally, Cherry has the ability to run and this makes her a favourite for playing through the game. More on this in a bit. Axel, Blaze, Cherry, Floyd and Adam will face off against a wide range of foes. Familiar enemy designs from the original games make a return along with some brand new foes too. Enemies look great and their attacks are varied throughout.
Levels in Streets of Rage 4 are gorgeous with an attention to artistic detail paid to every single scene in this side-scroller beat ‘em up. However, there is quite a big flaw that seems to have been slightly overlooked. The fight scenes as such, as they take place in the game world, feels rather cramped. There isn’t much room to maneuver your character and more often than not, enemies will be attacking you with attacks which are next to impossible to dodge. You can’t block in Streets of Rage 4 either so quite a lot of gameplay involves hit and run tactics, especially when it comes to tougher enemies or bosses.
Moving your characters around feels great but not allowing all characters to run is a massive oversight. Players will pick Cherry and when they realise that she’s the only one that can run and can do a running attack, they’ll probably think twice about picking another character. This is a shame because the other characters are genuinely enjoyable to play as and would benefit immensely from the added movement speed of being able to run or have attacks which can propel them across the screen. Alas, this is not the case.
Players can make use of special attacks and these are quite flashy. Using special attacks will deplete your health gauge and discolour it. The only way to recover health is to land normal attacks on enemies while your health gauge is still discoloured or to eat food items that are scattered throughout levels. A perfect balance between offensive special attacks and normal attacks is therefore required to ensure your survival in levels.
Players will also have access to a “Star” which functions as an all-powerful super move that you can pull off. Playing as Floyd for example and using a “Star” results in Floyd firing a massive laser beam across the screen. It’s jaw-droppingly gorgeous to see in action and feels like it’s incredibly powerful. The other characters have similar “Star” moves as well and these are typically to be reserved for do or die situations where you want to pump out massive amounts of damage to enemies. There is one caveat to using these moves though and that’s the fact that you will lose your “Star” bonus at the end of the level if you don’t have any remaining stars left.
Players will also be able to use a range of weapons in-game and these add some variety to the standard attacks. Hitting an enemy with a pipe never gets old and still feels as enjoyable as in the original Streets of Rage games from way back when.
The soundtrack used in Streets of Rage 4 is great with plenty of catchy tunes and head-bopping beats to keep you entertained as you fight through the levels. Boss battles are fun and challenging but many will infuriate players due to not being able to dodge or block their attacks.
The game has seemingly been made for co-op in mind with a lot of levels being quite tough to beat on normal difficulty. It’s best to team up with a friend (or two or three) and give this title a go. You’ll probably enjoy it way more too. A boss rush, arcade and battle mode round off the package with the battle mode letting players face off against each other.
Overall, Streets of Rage 4 does enough to satiate fans of the franchise. It’s a great game with some minor mishaps that can be overlooked since it does exactly what it set out to do. It plays like the Streets of Rage of old so if you’re out here looking for something spruced up with ultra modern gameplay mechanics, you might be disappointed. However, if you want more Streets of Rage classic action beat ‘em up gameplay, then this will definitely keep you happy for quite a few hours.
Streets of Rage 4 is Developed by DotEmu, Lizardcube, Guard Crush Games and Published by DotEmu
Streets of Rage 4 is available on PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, and PC
This Review is based on the PC Version of the game
You can purchase the game by clicking any of the below links.
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Streets of Rage 4
The all-time classic Streets of Rage, known as Bare Knuckle (ベア・ナックル Bea Nakkuru) in Japan, is a trilogy of beat ‘em up known for this timeless gameplay and electronic dance influenced music. Streets of Rage 4 builds upon the classic trilogy’s gameplay with new mechanics, beautiful hand drawn visuals and a God tier soundtrack.
Product Currency: GBP
Product Price: 22.49