I quite like myself a top-down brawler from time to time. Hell, I love ’em, which is why I thought it was quite fitting to leave Xbox Tavern with Redeemer – Enhanced Edition as my second to final review. Yes, yes, it’s my last few days here at Xt, but that’s not why you’re here. You’re here to find out if the game is any good. Well, I can safely say that it is. There’s some issues to make a note of, mind, but in the face of everything that the game gets right, these few problems are very easy to overlook in the grand scheme of things.
Players take on the role of Kratos-lookalike Vasily, a former operative for the largest cybernetic weapon manufacturer in the world. Upon escaping the clutches of the corporation that suddenly turned on him, Vasily settled down in a secluded monastery, in which for twenty years, he lived among monks in harmony. That is until, however, said corporation finally tracked him down, obliterating everything he has come to love. In doing so, somewhat inadvertently, this evil has granted him one more chance at redemption.
The game’s story is really well set, and manages to achieve a solid pace from the outset to the credit roll. I found myself completely engaged with the proceedings at hand, and although far from deep and compelling, there’s certainly enough intrigue here to keep you on the edge of your seat. The story twists and turns in ways you would and wouldn’t expect, and for a game like this, it’s nice to be able to sink your teeth into something quite fulfilling. Sure, it wont win awards, but it achieved what it set out to accomplish, and then some.
The game does a good job at feeding you into the fields of play, giving you all the insight that you need in regards to its handling and functionality. Sadly, it’s here in which we see the only two gripes that I have with the game. First and foremost, the performance is quite hit and miss. I noticed a few occasions here and there in which the framerate was struggling to keep up with the demands of the action. This doesn’t happen enough to the point that the game becomes wholly distracting, but it happened enough for me to make a note of it.
The second issue? Well, this is much more subjective, but I found the level design to be slightly underwhelming. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a shed-load of detail present, and heaps of visual variation throughout, but it all comes off as rather linear when you sit back and digest it all on a level-by-level basis. I prefer more open spaces, but everything here just felt too straightforward, and too structured. Once again, not a deal breaker by any means, but something to keep in mind nonetheless. With that to side, there’s very little to scoff at.
I never played the first iteration of Redeemer, but I can wholeheartedly say that Redeemer – Enhanced Edition feels like a very full and padded package. The game sports two player local co-op, additional refinements, and some added content; in comparison to its predecessor. That being said, I’ll be treating this as a new release, and not comparing it to what came beforehand. So, getting back to the point. The game welcomes you in with open arms, and it doesn’t take long at all to see how devilishly brutal the ordeal is. Seriously, it’s bloody.
The game plays out as a top-down brawler, in which playing as Vasily, you’ll beat the living shit out of anyone in your path of vengeance, which, pretty much means anything that moves. The controls are very well mapped, and easy to keep on track of. In fact, for a game such as this, it’s very accessible across the board. There’s no convoluted UI, there’s no umpteen amount of commands that you need to keep track of, and there’s no unnecessary fluff. It’s a simple case of diving in, and just soaking up the simplicity of its whole play.
Movement is achieved via the left stick, with aim tethered to the right stick. You’ll punch with the X button, kick with the Y button, and block and parry with LB. When near environmental hazards, you can press the B button to throw your enemies to it; whether that be a fire-pit, a spike, or anything between. Picking up weapons (you’ll do this often) is achieved through RB, and you can shoot projectile weaponry through RT. Find yourselves in a tight spot? You’re afforded a generous roll function through hitting the A button. Simples.
The handling never gets more complex than that, leaving you free to soak up its accessibility as you chain attacks, whoop ass, and rinse and repeat until the ground is red and you’re stood victorious. The combat is brutal and fast-paced, but massively gratifying. Hordes of enemies will flood the screen no matter where you are, and the freedom of movement allows you to bob and weave between attacks in rapid succession, before returning a barrage of your own. The game is hella tough when it wants to be, which for me, is welcoming.
I’m tired of playing these sorts of games that practically spoon-feed you throughout through lack of difficulty, but that’s not the case here. In Redeemer, you’re put through the ringer in all the right ways. It helps, of course, that the combat is always a spectacle to behold. Combat will frequently slow down with a camera-zoom, giving you action-packed close-ups of your gory outputs. There’s also some finishers that are triggered under specific circumstances, and these are not only diverse and varied, but thoroughly entertaining too.
It’s always amusing strolling into a room or part of the environment that’s seemingly squeaky clean, only to walk away moments later to observe that the whole scenery is now painted in your enemy’s blood. This much is true whether you’re fighting your foes with your fists and feet, or via the many weapons you can pick up along your way. Anything from sticks of wood and hatchets, right through to swords and guns is free for the taking, and they’re all more than capable of grinding your opposition to puddles of red mess. It’s truly engaging.
Speaking of weaponry, all weapons come with a capacity of some sort. Whether it’s the ammo in your gun, or the durability of your hammer, you’ll need to be mindful of its limits. Once a weapon becomes broken or empty of ammo, you’ll need to revert to hand-to-hand combat or seek out another pick-up, but truth be told, weapons are everywhere. One thing I want to commend the game for is for that of its enemy diversity and their smart perceptional awareness. There’s a wide selection of foes to tackle, and most are cunning.
Sure, you’ll kill many of them in the same sort of fashion, but the way they respond to their surroundings is great. Enemies come in all shapes and sizes, and tend to arrive with unique movement and attack patterns. That said, you’ll always need to be smart when the occasion calls for it. Low on health and see a wide group of enemies? Best pick them off one by one via stealth kills, but, due to how tuned in with their surroundings they are, you’ll need to make sure you do this well out of sight, and very, very quietly, or else suffer the onslaught.
There’s a progression system in Redeemer too, and it’s relatively simple to understand. The upgrades are spread across two classes; Monk, and Soldier. Through the course of natural play, you’ll be able to bulk up both classes, which subsequently enlarges your base capabilities. Both of these classes dish out quite a lot of depth as far as combat is concerned, and they both open up at a solid pace as the action picks up and you work through the game. Naturally, both classes offer wildly varied elements to unlock and use.
For instance, if you prefer hand to hand combat, you’ll want to work on the Monk class. Here, you’ll be able to pursue new abilities and traits, such as unlocking powerful punches and strikes, as well as being able to unlock a chance-based ability to shred your opposition to pieces in a single strike. There’s much more besides in this class alone, and they’re all as handy and as entertaining as the next. Over in the Soldier class, things are equally as interesting. This class is largely for projectile weaponry; pistols, shotguns, SMGs and more.
Through working on this class, you can bulk up the proficiency of your weapons through attaching equipment; silencers for stealth, guass for bullet penetration, stock for improved accuracy, and more. The possibilities go on and on, and it’s all laid out in a very neat and organizes UI. I can say as much about the levels themselves, being that Redeemer is broken down into several levels, in which you’ll find varying objectives throughout each of them to accomplish. On the face of it all, it’s a clean and well put together game that rarely tires.
The game’s length sits at roughly less than ten hours, with replay value found in max completion and collecting all extras. For its cost, it’s definitely worth its weight. Everything from its pacing and its progression, right through to its gritty combat and its play depth, is fun, worthwhile, and vastly entertaining. Sure, its not the best game of its kind, but it’s certainly high up there in regards to its satisfying action alone. Fans of the concept will no doubt love what’s on offer here, despite the few blemishes that come attached to the hook.
In regards to the game’s visual and audio design, Redeemer gets a thumbs up. Whilst I would have liked to have seen more from the game’s level design, there’s no knocking the game for its visuals. It’s sharp, well presented, and packed with details. I’ll say as much about the game’s audio, being that it looks as good as it sounds, each audio cue distinct and well set from the next. I’ve had a blast with Vasily, and thoroughly hope to see more from the series as time goes on. It’s definitely got the potential to be something big and lasting.
Redeemer: Enhanced Edition, although not quite as robust as its contemporaries, is one hell of a bloody good game. Everything from its progression, its pacing, and its core functionality, right through to its combat diversity and its play depth, remains constantly gratifying and energetic throughout. Despite some issues with its performance and its insipid level design, fans of the brawler concept will absolutely love what’s on offer here.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.Want to keep up to date with the latest Xt reviews, Xt opinions and Xt content? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.