NOTE: This review specifically goes over what the PC version offers rather than a review of the game itself. If you want a review of the game itself based on its content, check out fellow editor Jesse “Doncabesa” Norris for his full review.
It’s hard to truly be excited for a PC game releasing when you hear that it’s running on Unreal Engine 4. That’s not to say the game will be bad, or that it will be even optimized poorly, but rather one thing that is common in Unreal Engine 4 titles as of late: PSO Cache stutter, better commonly known as shader cache stutter. The way it works is that every time you see a new particle for the first time (Like smoke, fire, dust, etc), you will see a stutter as the game tries to add that effect to its cache. Some games are able to very smartly cache shaders when they’re actually needed on loading screens and such, but Unreal Engine 4 titles as of late have been having this issue because it’s not something that will be noticed by developers when they’re testing the game as the cache is already built when working in the game editor. This is one of those titles that has this issue… at launch. Now it’s rectified… mostly. I still experienced this issue throughout my playthrough but it never got as bad as it did when the game originally launched.
Now for the actual issues that plague the port at launch comes down to the lack of options that the game offers to tune and severe oversight on optimizing across multiple platforms. There is no DLSS, only FSR2 and TAAU, which doesn’t really help much if you’re on a beefier rig due to the game not utilizing the CPU across all cores and threads, which means that even with a 13900k paired up with an RTX 4090, you will still get similar performance as one would get with a 5800x and a 3080. Lowering your resolution won’t help, lowering your settings won’t help much either. It’s a demanding game for the wrong reasons, kinda like the original release of Crysis on PC. The difference between the two is that one came out in 2007 before multi-core processors became the norm, while the other came out in 2022 and is being released simultaneously on consoles where it runs completely fine after their respective patches. Consoles have all the ray-tracing options turned on too, I should add.
You have options to adjust texture quality, filtering, shadow resolution, ray traced shadows, reflections and transmissions, but the only options that actually affected performance for me were the ray tracing options. Once you turn these features on, your framerate will plummet down to half of what it would be without ray tracing. It does help add a lot to the little details of the game, but if you’re more into preserving that framerate as much as you can, turn them off. I played for the first half of the game without ray tracing and I thought it still looked incredible, however I did disable motion blur and film grain as it seems the shutter speed for the motion blur isn’t properly adjusted for the higher frame-rate so it just smears the image when any little movement happens on the screen, while film grain was just personal preference.
The Good Options
The controls on a keyboard and mouse are finely tuned and show up properly across the whole game. All button prompts for QTE’s, in-game actions, and tutorials all show up properly. I didn’t have any issues with the default controls, but the game does offer full rebindable controls and alternate controls for those who want them. You also get independent options for mouse smoothing when you’re aiming or looking around, aim sensitivity and camera inversion. Audio options are decent enough as you can adjust the audio between sound effects, music and dialogue but nothing in regards to surround sound. If you’re wanting dialogue from another region, you must change the default language on steam in order to do so for some reason. You can at least change the text and subtitles language in-game.
In terms of accessibility, there are plenty of options here for high-contrast colors for the player, enemies and pickups that are all customizable. Plenty of assists during combat and QTE sequences that allow you to dodge automatically, help with melee combat and aiming. You can change screen effects like when you have low health, hallucinations, and adjust the parallax effects for the HUD like your inventory. It’s not extensive like The Last of Us Part 1 or Gears 5, but it’s good enough to allow more people to enjoy the game.
For a game that is able to provide a consistent frame-rate on console at a high resolution, Striking Distance’s first outing on PC is poor when discussing optimization. The consoles are in a good state after their respective patches, hell, I would believe that the PC’s highest settings are almost equivalent to the consoles set in their respective quality modes. This should absolutely not be the case when there should be headroom for future hardware in mind. It’s still an incredible looking game, it’s (in my opinion) the best looking game running on Unreal Engine 4, but the issues with the CPU optimization and the stuttering have to be fixed before I can even start to recommend the PC version.