Cho Dengeki Stryker needs an anime. That was my first thought upon finishing this visual novel. It’s story was both hilarious and serious in roughly equal amounts, with the right amount of crazy hijinks and neat action. As I went through the story, I could see the anime playing in my head at some parts – it was just too perfect for some scenes, like when certain characters show up in their Stryker Unit in the first time for example.
Now, I don’t want to give too many spoilers or big information about this Visual Novel away. Sure, there aren’t too many big twists, and those that there are aren’t that shocking. However, as the game doesn’t actually require you to input very much to get through a given route (there’s only like…3 choices per route) the story is well written and presented in such a way that even twists you see coming are enjoyable to see unfold.
The story’s set up is this. Yuuki Yamato, a young boy, is infatuated with a manga character by the name of Stryker Zero. He’s kind of like the red ranger type in a sentai group – the leader, the super-soldier, etc. He often plays with his friend Hongo Haruna, but she’s often picked on, and he comes to her rescue – as Stryker Zero – only to get beaten up.
One day, he finds out that Haruna is moving away, and in his sadness of not being able to protect her properly, he heads to a temple and cries. Here, he is met by a strange man called the Memory Collector, who offers to grant a wish in exchange for some memories. Yuuki wishes to be Stryker Zero, and it’s granted. However, because of Yuuki’s age, the memory collector is forced to take all of his memories, so he forgets Haruna and everything else.
Eventually, he moves to Tokyo in preparation to defend Japan from the attacks of the Balbora Empire, and evil place looking to invade Japan. He is reunited with Haruna, as well as meets her friend Sayaka. These two girls are the main heroines of the series. From here the story unfolds as he meets new people, interacts with them, and attempts to thwart the Balborans’ plans. Things do eventually get crazy, but they start off simple enough.
The Cho version of the game build upon the original. In the original there are three Sagas. First is Haruna’s route – the Zero Saga. This is the first route most people do, and was on it’s own originally. The second route – Syaka’s route – is Heaven Saga, which then continues in the third and final Sky Saga.
The additions add almost twice the amount of game time with three new routes. First is the Love Saga. This Saga differs from the others in that first, it focuses on one of the Balborans as the heroine of the Saga. In addition, it doesn’t focus on the struggles and fights, but rather the day-to-day lives of all the characters. It was a nice break from the other Sagas as it’s placed in the middle, especially after the crushingness of the Sky Saga.
Next is the Steel Saga, which builds upon the Zero Saga and introduces a new character as the heroine for it’s main route. Third and final is the Light Saga, which rounds out the story of the Zero and Steel Sagas.
Personally, I vastly preferred the Heaven/Sky Sagas to the Zero/Steel/Light Sagas. I thought the heroine was better involved (go Sayaka!) and felt that there was actually some semblance of a relationship there. In the other three Sagas, the heroine always felt left in the dust – at least romance wise. Sure, Yuuki and Haruna had time together, but none of it felt remotely romantic in nature, so the H-scene felt tacked on (admittedly, Sayaka’s did too, but it wasn’t out of place.)
However, the Love Saga I thought was great too. Much of the comedy in this VN was very well done. The slice of life parts and the funny/enjoyable bits were more entertaining and probably even better written than the serious or action parts. This overall led to the Love Saga, which was less about the action, being toward the top of the list in enjoyment.
Now, to talk about the parts of the visual novel. The music, for starters was catchy as hell, and just crazy awesome in some parts. The theme songs were all great, and the music that plays at the main menu gets you pumped for whatever is coming the next time you pull up the game. The music in most Overdrive VNs are pretty top-notch, and this was no exception. I loved the music – it was great for the novel.
The CGs and character designs were great. Each character was likeable (save Curtis) and they all had some fun quirk or personality flaw that made you like them more. They were all expertly written, and were all fun. Especially when looking at their battle selves versus their neighbor selves. The differences were hilarious. The CGs, character designs, and backgrounds were all fantastically drawn, and were top-notch on quality.
I do think that Dengeki Stryker is toward the top of the list for Visual Novels I’ve tried now. Despite the lack of real input from the player, or the lack of real routes, the story is so well put together, that it doesn’t really matter. I played through almost all of the game through the Auto scroll function, just sitting back and watching without any clicks. It turned out like watching an anime, almost.
Which reminds me about the voice acting. The acting in this game was superb. Absolutely every line was acted, with the exception of narration, of which there was actually very little. I was genuinely surprised in the first hour or so by the sheer number of acted lines. It was great. And the actors they got to play the roles did an unbelievable job with most of their roles. Few lines dropped, and even fewer were actually downright bad. It was refreshing to see so much of the game done with good acting.
So, yes. Overall, I would absolutely recommend Cho Dengeki Stryker. The VN is great, despite the rather linear stories – but when the stories are so incredibly different, it’s almost better with less choices. It was more like reading a novel than playing a visual novel. And I felt less of the “get the girl!” vibe and more of an attachment to all the characters. It was a fantastically written, top quality VN that, if you have some time, is definitely worth checking out.
This is definitely one of the best VNs I’ve played in a while. There were certainly some problems, but overall, it’s certainly worth your time. It’s not a Key or Type-Moon novel (I love Type-Moon), but Overdrive definitely has their novels down strong, and Dengeki Stryker was a blast to go through.
Chou Dengeki Stryker was reviewed on PC using a code provided by Manga Gamer. You can find additional information about Niche Gamer’s reviews/ethics policy here.