Top-down brawlers aren’t anything new but Redeemer Enhanced Edition certainly has something different to offer.
Intensity really sums this game up in a nutshell. It’s fast-paced, gory, makes you feel like a complete bad ass while managing to tell a decent yarn in a post-apocalyptic future.
Across the game’s twenty levels, you’ll learn more about Vasily, an extraordinary Shaolin-styled Monk who has a mean left hand, and a roundhouse to make Chuck Norris blink.
Vasily once worked for one of the biggest Cybernetic Weapon Manufacturers in the world. He did some bad shit in his time there, torturing and assassinating people for extortion while getting paid to do it.
The problem was the Manufacturer got greedy and wanted to turn him into one of their cybernetic goons to do their bidding and Vasily wasn’t too keen on that. So he fled.
In fact, he ran off to a monastery in the mountains and spent 20 years of his life there trying to find peace and atone for his crimes. But, of course, the Corporation were always looking for him, intent on punishing Vasily as a traitor.
So, now you’re fighting back against enhanced humans with cyborg arms, powerful machines with flamethrowers, and mutants with massive claws and gnashing teeth.
It’s not going to win awards for the story, don’t get me wrong, but the way Sobaka Studio have painted the picture, given Vasily a history, and tried to explain why he goes around curb-stomping skulls and thumping people in the chest is commendable.
Redeemer is at its best when you’re fighting, of course. You can pick up pistols and shotguns to blast enemies to smithereens, but there’s also plenty of hand to hand weapons like sticks and hatchets that can be used in a variety of ways.
Redeemer is loaded with different ways to kill your enemies, which keeps the content refreshing as you continue to unlock your way through the progression system.
One minute you can be stealth killing an unsuspecting enemy with a knife to the back, next you’re impaling them on a nearby tree branch after comboing them into unconsciousness.
It’s quite creative and surprisingly satisfying. Most amazingly, though, it stays enjoyable through the majority of the game, despite endless waves of enemies and some environment repetition.
And Sobaka Studio understand that this is the bread and butter of the game, zooming in with slow motion to capture every sadistic detail and adding some vicious sound effects to really make you squirm in your seat.
Which is a shame that the boss battles really lack ambition. The narrative setup is fine, but they tend to play out in much the same way and are, surprisingly, quite easy to power through. There’s never really a sense of feeling outmatched or overpowered, and strategies to beat them tend to follow mostly similar patterns.
It all feels a tad ropey, too. The user interface is quite bland, and it’s not immediately straightforward how to level up once you’ve collected the tablets and scrolls scattered through the game.
You have to assign a rune or scroll to the category you want to level, then wait a bit and will eventually be able to do things like add new punches to your combo, or increase gun accuracy.
The thing is, sometimes it doesn’t feel like your character has had much of an upgrade when you’ve made your choice. It just doesn’t balance because when you add red line of sight or you get additions to your combo, it’s clear the opposite is true.
Then there’s some issues with lag and input delay when switching between menu screens, and the game sometimes gets a bit overwhelmed when Vasily fights a bunch of enemies. I couldn’t believe how loud my PS4 got at times.
To make matters worse, my PS4 hard crashed a few times while playing, giving me a full black screen for a minute, making me wonder whether the PS4 needs to be turned off at the mains to reset.
Which, anyone with a launch PS4 will tell you, is an incredibly nervy thing to do with the issues around corrupted hard drives. For a near three-year-old game to be running this sluggishly on a PS4, is a bit disappointing.
Still, the local co-op is a nice blast to really break up the monotony of crawling on your own, and then there’s the Arena modes which let you take on ten waves of cybernetics of increased difficulty.
It still feels rather sparse and limited, though. The quality of the mechanics and design begs for a lengthier, healthier campaign, with more substance and a better structure.
And it doesn’t help that Redeemer Enhanced Edition is kind of a one and done game and it’s not a very long one. Having said that, what you get in that one playthrough is some gripping action, solid gameplay, and a chance to team up with a buddy.
In this day and age, that not only goes a long way, but it’s incredibly welcome. There’s potentially the makings of a major new IP here and I just hope, if they ever do a Redeemer 2, it benefits from some of that potential.
Redeemer Enhanced Edition is out now on Xbox, PS4 and Switch
Review code kindly provided by Publisher
Tested on PS4