Man, it’s been a rough few days of late, so when Redeemer showed up for review, things were looking up. Redeemer slipped past me when it initially released on PC in August 2017, and it was only after snooping around for upcoming games that I read up on the re-release of this title. While I don’t have a specific genre I stick to, Redeemer is the kind of game I like to play. Is it any good though?
Available now on Xbox One, Nintendo Switch and PS4 (the platform through which this game was reviewed), there are no excuses on availability. Brought to you by Russian developer Sobaka Studio, Redeemer: Enhanced Edition is a top-down beat ’em up that pays a little homage to some of the games and movies from the late ’80s to mid-’90s. Think Gauntlet or Baldur’s Gate meets Red Heat. How’s that for a combo?
You play Vasily. Not too much is known about him other than he crashes his heli-plane near a monastery in the mountains some 20 years ago, and the master monk takes him in without discrimination. It’s the usual cry; stranger arrives in town, hiding his past only for it to resurface again sometime later, and said protagonist has to address their history before they can truly move on.
Nothing new here as from the outset a group of mercenaries raids the monastery looking for Vasily – killing his brother monks in the process. Vasily stomps through the grounds taking out the attackers with a flurry of fists, feet, melee weapons and firearms. Whatever is available to him.
The combat is very satisfying. It’s slick and intuitive. The way he holds a gun looks pretty cool too. At first, I was under the impression that you could play however you prefer. After the first area, the monastery, the game takes a sharp turn and you have to embrace all the fighting mechanics to progress.
From Monks to Mutants
It took me a few stages to adjust as the game shifts from an outdoor mountain setting fighting mercs with the odd cyborg implant to full-on mutants in an underground lab. All very generic for this genre, but it was the first curveball for me. I stuck with it though and eventually got used to it. As I mentioned, this is the kind of game I like to play, so no surprise that I found myself a little hooked. The plot isn’t that important, but it works for the genre. The graphics and general ambiance are great though. The lack of music interrupted by a sudden edgy industrial type riff kicking in that didn’t overpower the scene had me enjoying it more. Quite subtle.
You wouldn’t be judged in thinking that Vasily has been sharing beauty tips with Kratos from God of War. Vasily’s beard is longer, and he doesn’t have the tattoo, but otherwise they could be dead ringers. I can’t say as much about the antagonist in the game. You see him early on, and all decent heroes – including anti-heroes – need a better villain. The nemesis in the game was very flat – including the voice acting. That was a bit of a letdown from my experience, and the backstory didn’t cut it either.
Too Hard to Handle
The controls are brilliant. I picked this up and was in full swing – sledgehammer in hand – within moments. The left stick is movement and the right stick, when combined with R2, switches to your firearm. It is effortless to switch between the two, as well as find a new melee weapon as you frequently pick off your foes. Most people would probably opt to shoot everyone as that would make it a lot easier, but ammo is limited. The same with melee weapons as the durability will drop until ineffective. I found this to be spot on. I love to get in close so I can happily play with fists only (I’m the guy who played games like Killzone 2 with just a knife).
Like I said though, you need to use all that is available to you as later on some of the enemies are ruthless, and you do practically zero damage with your fists. There were a few times I had to mix up a wrench, axe, assault rifle, shotgun, chairs, extinguishers…just to get past a handful of mutants. It does get tricky in places, that’s for sure.
So, It’s Surely a Winner?
While I have a bias for these sort of games, I have to be honest too, and there’s something that Redeemer misses out on for it to shine. The controls are great, the graphics – notably the lighting – and sound are also very good. None of this pixel art style everyone is doing. There’s no need for it, the choice they opted for is perfect. Maybe it’s the story and setting that put me off. There wasn’t enough of a drive for me to keep going as I couldn’t care less about the baddies getting their comeuppance as I didn’t identify with them. Not that I’m a sociopath, but for every Batman, you need a Joker. Sub-Zero needs Scorpion – and so on. The flashbacks and additional glossary in-game do little to add to the character development.
Is there any replay value to it? Absolutely. If you’re a completionist, you could go through and unlock all the tiers of combat. This is a new feature for the Enhanced Edition and allows for you to increase ammo capacity, use power punches and the like. The shotgun perks are a must in my opinion though. I finished the game without using kick, so read into that how you will. The difficulty is pretty good and certainly the challenge for hardcore players, i.e., not me. There is a bonus arena mode for survival, and that’s a lot of fun too, especially in co-op mode.
Not so Bulletproof Monk
There isn’t too much to work with in terms of character for the lead, though I did like him. If his nemesis was a bit more present and had enough oomph for you to really chase him down or whatever, that would be an improvement. Hardly a spoiler as it’s early on in the game, but when the mercs are killing off all that Vasily holds dear, there’s not much leverage or driving force for the remainder of the game other than to punch what is in your way. I just didn’t care so much.
This originally came out on Steam in 2017 and was apparently subject to frame rate drops and a few other technical issues. Personally, I didn’t have any issue on the PS4 on my own but noticed a slight slowdown in co-op. To be truthful though, I didn’t care as it didn’t ruin the experience for me as it was so minimal, and I only probably noticed it as I was looking for it.
Developer: Sobaka Studio
Publisher: Good Sheperd Entertainment, Buka Entertainment
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC, Switch
Release Date: 19th July 2019