Sometimes you need to be left alone, other times you need to teach people why – Redeemer Review
After a long hard day, sometimes you just need to sit back and unwind. After a long hard life of combat and war, sometimes you need to be isolated from the world. Imagine how disturbed and annoyed you are if your me time is interrupted, then multiply that by a 100 and you might begin to understand Vasily’s pain in Redeemer. Developed by Sobaka Studio and Published by Gambitious, Redeemer is a top-down action beat-em-up game starring Vasily, who was once an elite operative highly trained in infiltration, assassination, extortion, and ‘enhanced’ interrogation. Players get to make full use of his training with brutal hand-to-hand combat mixed with the use of guns, melee weapons, and the environment. With the right combinations and executions, players can wreak havoc on his enemies, dismembering their limbs and using said limbs to destroy the remaining enemies.
Redeemer‘s single player campaign has a fairly in-depth, but rather cliche story. To be honest, playing the game makes me think of the Retired Military Specialist sketch by Key & Peele. Though Vasily is nearly the exact opposite of Decker, I cannot shake the comparison. Retired trained killer goes into isolation because their violent pasts haunt them, then their past comes back and they have to become the violent person they’ve worked so hard to leave behind, once again. It’s basically Rambo, and I don’t like that it takes place in an Asian-ish Monk Temple. I’m not quite sure what Vasily is, as it remains ambiguous, and I’m not going to complain about so SJW white savior complex issue. I’m just really upset about the logic behind a temple full of master martial artists getting slaughtered in droves. These guys do nothing but train and live a life that supports their training, but some mercenary army comes and takes them ALL out? Not even with like special weapons or tactics- nah- they can win in hand-to-hand combat and just slit their throats. It’s nonsense. HUGE PLOT HOLE. Then Vasily literally goes around ripping these faceless goons into pieces. The balance of power and ability is grossly tipped and doesn’t make sense. The set-up is cliche, the approach is just as un-originally misguided, and any redeeming narrative is drowned out by this illogical execution. I mean, adding one equally bad ass monk, who say ended up being Vasily’s mentor, who constantly beat the crap out of him in training and helped focus his distraught and skills into a zen-like fighting style and existence would add legitimacy to his current skill set and not make the entire temple seem like a bunch of pansies. Like in the Last Samurai. Plus, it could potentially give players a second player to play as, which I think is essential to top-down brawlers, or at the very least provide necessary context and martyr for Vasily’s story. Picture it, the mentor that helped Vasily find piece, taking on hordes of the enemy, then taken out by a punk-ass who uses a punk-ass tactic and becomes Vasily’s focal point. Cliche, but at least it validates everything and is far better than giving Vasily a thin thread of connection to these people. He calls them all brother like some two-bit Randy Savage. When Randy Savage called me brother, I got giddy; when Vasily says brother, I think, “Bruh, you don’t know me.”
However, the story isn’t really the reason to play Redeemer, gameplay is and it is solid. The combos are intuitive, the pick-up and use of weapons are quick and seamless, and the integration of the environment into your fighting is as natural as walking. Players are also able to perform stealth kills, which adds for an enjoyable variation that can lead to some epic set-ups. For a brawler, it actually does feel like you have an expert in multiple forms of combat and takedowns even if you’re just button mashing. I am particularly fond of using the shotgun to blow a hole through enemy formations, then getting right into the thick of the horde and using power attacks to punch through from the inside, out. I’m also a fan of stealth killing an enemy so that another nearby enemy can see/hear it so they come running then promptly slaughtered into with an environmental hazard. There are a lot of variations of mayhem and violence you can cause, and it’s glorious.
Mechanics wise, Redeemer could use some polish. The game looks good, but there are some things that just don’t quite work for me. At the very beginning of the game, you are able to walk off the ledge. No, big deal, but then later in the game, there are edges that prevent you from walking off with an invisible wall. It’s an inconsistency, not one that has any real effect on the game, but something that once you notice you can’t forget about. Then there’s the camera movement that you use to look around the area and figure out where your opponents are. You don’t get much more information when using this feature and its combinations of the left button and right thumbstick prevents you from using it with an object ready to throw. Conceptually it’s a great and almost necessary feature, but in execution, it seems lack luster. Then there’s the health regeneration system, which regains health after executing and taking down enemies. It doesn’t feel consistent, I think because it doesn’t recharge when you kill with guns. For the most part, it’s fine, but it’s kind of weird when you depend on a small spree to refill your health and you don’t get any and you don’t quite know why. The biggest bummer of the game, however, are the guns and ammo. Using the guns, a lot of fun. Emptying one gun, picking up the guns of someone you shot, then using it to take down their comrades is exhilarating. What bums me out about the guns, is the inability to stack ammo of the same weapon. If I kill someone with a shotgun, with my shotgun, I should be able to simply add their ammo to my ammo. Instead, I would have to either keep my shotgun with 4 or ammo or take their shotgun with 3 ammo. It really bugs me that this expert killer/marksman, can’t stack some ammo. I mean let me get one full clip, I don’t need to be able to stockpile ammo, but I should be able to refill a clip. I understand that the designers want you to focus on the melee part of the combat, but like the main story, it just doesn’t make sense and feels off.
Redeemer is a fun and overall well-made top-down brawler that provides a surprising amount of variation. Gameplay is intuitive, smooth, and intuitive while still enjoyable challenging. Where the game doesn’t hit as hard is in its unoriginal story and slightly unpolished mechanics. The gameplay will provide you with hours of enjoyable, violent, fun, but the story is not strong enough to compel you to finish the game. The lack of a local multiplayer experience for the main story also takes away from the appeal, as I personally feel that top-down brawlers are always the most fun when played with others and Redeemer almost screams to be a badass buddy beat-em-up game. Overall, if you’re a fan of the genre, I think Redeemer is one of the better top-down brawlers we’ve had in awhile, and I hope for a sequel with a co-op campaign and refillable ammo. My Redeemer Review gets a 7/19
Redeemer is scheduled to release tomorrow August 1st, 2017 on Steam