Doom with depth
Strife was the first game in memory to effectively combine the first person shooter and role-playing genres. It also included elements that were portentous of the "sneak" genre, as made popular by games like Thief and Metal Gear Solid. What set Strife apart from other games of the time, including the more technically-sophisticated Quake, was that it wasn't all about brazen blasting. There are of course times where the necessary course of action is to kill everything in your path, but there are other times where that mentality spells your imminent demise.
The weapon selection is quirky and unique. We're not talking pistols and shotguns anymore -- we've got unique energy weapons, a poisonous crossbow (which will prove to be your best friend in the first half of the game), and arson grenades.
Subtler elements include NPC interaction, in which you must choose your words wisely, multiple story paths, a helpful companion (albeit via walkie-talkie), the ability and necessity to be stealthy, a reasonably deep plot, and an open-level structure that would later appear in similar form in Half-Life.
Strife was developed by small-potatoes studio Velocity
, and as such wasn't afforded the budget it deserved. They licensed the archaic Doom engine in the Quake-era, which meant that the graphics even for the time didn't cut it. Even Doom and subsequent spin-offs Heretic and Hexen utilized the engine more stylistically than Strife -- the textures are overly-bright and amateurish, and the level design is at times very blocky. All the NPCs mostly look exactly the same, save color variation. The consequences of even the smallest slip-ups can sometimes have unfairly harsh consequences (the troops swarm in if you accidentally trip an alarm)
The Bottom Line
The primitive graphics are easy to overcome when you consider the sheer fun and depth of the gameplay. This is a precursor to what would become staple to the genre (story, character interaction, objective-based gameplay, stealth, etc.), but Strife did it first, and it did it right. If you can get your hands on a copy of this and a decent source-port, you'll find hours of classic entertainment. A truly underrated classic that never got the spotlight it deserved.