Redeemer Review – Monks, Mutants and Madness
Redeemer1st August, 2017
I genuinely don't know what to think of Redeemer at times. There are a few select words that can be used to describe the game and few of them are flattering. Possibly the best word is bonkers, because that's exactly what Redeemer is.
It's never exactly sure what it wants to be and definitely suffers as a result. Somehow, though, the fact that it flaps around gives the game just a little bit of charm. It's charming in the same way as a baby panda scaring its mother. It'll entertain you for a while, but it only has limited value. At least that's the case if you're not a huge brawler fan.
What really helps is that the combat is visceral and gratifying. It can, however, best be described as style over substance. It’s shallow, there’s no escaping that fact. You can punch, kick and smack enemies to death with weapons. You can also shoot them. Finally, you can throw things at them. The game tries to dress this up with a handful of weapons which you can use against the handful of enemies.
In reality, it’s mostly window dressing. It’s not a large negative though. You’re almost guaranteed to find yourself entertained by the fact that with the click of a key you'll find yourself performing a variety of kills. Crashing a soldier's head into an electrical panel. Splitting a mutants head in a table saw. Simply throwing somebody into a fire. It's one of the more gratifying parts of Redeemer.
Following with this theme of visceral kills are sneak kills and what are essentially finishing moves. The game purports to offer stealth as a method of moving through levels. Claims to offer "graceful stealth kills" are somewhat overdone. There's no real stealth system in the game beyond the basics of not wandering into enemy view or getting into a fight within any close distance. No levels reasonably allow for a stealth playthrough either, primarily due to enemy layout. Fortunately stealth should always be a last resort because the finishing moves, through physically crushing a soldier against a wall, impaling a mutant with an iron bar or almost knocking off the head of an enemy with a large hammer. The kills are violent and gratifying, never getting old.
What is annoying are certain enemies that are seemingly designed just to infuriate. The best example are the mutants that leap on your back, pinning your arms. During this move they also deal constant damage as you have to mash the right mouse button to get them off. However, you're also unable to block, dodge or move quickly away from other enemies. As a result, you're guaranteed to find yourself surrounded, getting clawed to death.
Other annoying enemies are the heavy soldier enemies. They're also capable of grabbing hold of you, more annoying is the fact that their attacks can't be interrupted. It can make for an incredibly tedious time, particularly when surrounded by enemies with multiple types of the more irritating ones. What makes it more annoying is the fact that the character you control is essentially a god of war, yet can be pinned or interrupted fairly easily. All the time your attacks are shrugged off like a mere insect sting.
In later levels, the combination of enemies, some impervious to normal attacks, can lead to areas that are downright infuriating. One particular area at the end of the ninth level sticks with me the most. With at least 40 mutants, multiple claw-mutants immune to normal attacks, countless leapers that latch onto you and a few bile-spitting ones that, if their attacks land, also stun and slow you down. I died no less than fifteen times and it's only because I'm reviewing the game that I persisted with it. I'm being generous when I say that there's no real direction to the game's challenge. Each level acts as its own little microcosm and the difficulty curve may as well be a Spirograph for all the sense it makes.
Despite how difficult the game is, it has moments where it's can be incredibly easy. However, this isn't due to any particular choice of the developers, but due to bugs. It's surprising just how many times larger enemies freeze or get caught up on scenery. It can at least offer some sort of reprieve from the swathes of enemies but it's worrying when one of the bosses manages to get stuck on the scenery. For me, it was the second boss. There are two, one that jumps up and attempts to drop on you and another that spits poison. The one that drops managed to get itself stuck on an electrical generator positioned in the centre of the room. I was able to recreate this multiple times by simply standing next to it, letting the boss drop on it.
Minor bugs like that are also joined by some other issues. A small few parts of the game had some noticeable slowdown, no rhyme or reason as to why. With the rest of the game running smoothly, it just appears that every now and then during a few scenes that the game takes control of the camera. There's no real reason for this, particularly as it persists into the actual combat, which is smooth otherwise. It's surprising because there's nothing on show that should strain even an average rig.
On the scenes. It should be mentioned that Redeemer is a Russian developed game. I mention this because the voice acting is average at best. Sometimes pretty damn bad. More apparent is when the lines don't actually match the subtitles shown on-screen. It's a minor thing easily overlooked. What is hard to overlook is just how poorly developed the story is. Names are thrown in at random, completely out-there concepts are thrown in with no explanation and somehow the game moves from reality to sci-fi horror and back at the tip of a hat.
While it certainly fills up the 18 levels found within the game, making any sense of it is beyond my Boddingtons fuelled brain. It starts off with an assault by a group of soldiers, who massacre a collective of monks. Soon enough cyborgs are brought into the plot with nary a backward glance. Only that isn’t the craziest part. You’ll find yourself in a mutant infested lab reminiscent of The Hive from the Resident Evil films. It's as topsy-turvy as the aforementioned difficulty level of the game. Fortunately, as with any other brawler, it's there as a means to an end. The story really is far from a concern when it comes to this type of game.
Were I to compare this to other games I've reviewed, it'd be Cross of the Dutchman or even Bombshell. Fortunately, it's considerably better than the latter and a decent improvement on the former. Redeemer really redeems itself through the sheer brutality of its action. It's incredibly satisfying to demolish enemies, smashing them through objects, bashing their heads in or even peppering them with bullets.
My core problems with the game will likely not be major issues for fans of the genre. Brawlers have never been known for their great storytelling, so that's by the by. For those with more experience of the genre, the fluctuating difficulty and cheap enemy design could just come across as a challenge. For me, and potentially for others, it acts more as a barrier to entry, or at least a barrier to enjoyment.
Redeemer is a simple game. That much is certain. There's little complexity to it and at times enemy design can feel incredibly cheap. The storyline is outright bonkers and, for what it's worth, may as well not be there. However, for all its flaws, the combat is visceral and, at its best, very entertaining. Sometimes all a game needs is the ability to punch a soldier into a huge fan and watch him get diced into little bits. Redeemer has that in spades and is passable if only for that.
Copy provided by publisher.
Edit: I've been informed by the developers that the issues with the text, framerate and other bugs found within the game have been resolved within a day one patch.
Redeemer is a flawed title at best. It's a brawler at heart and succeeds on that line, offering visceral and often entertaining combat. However, the inclusion of cheap enemies and a hugely fluctuating difficulty curve makes for often irritating experiences in a number of levels. Though not a large concern for the genre, the story is a mess throwing in characters and concepts with no explanation.
- Combat is visceral and very gratifying, delivering on the tagline of “violence awakened”
- The game offers a variety of entertaining and interesting ways to kill enemies and looks good while doing so
- The story is downright crazy and doesn’t adequately introduce characters, plot threads or anything else in the game
- Hugely fluctuating difficulty level annoys at best. The levels themselves feature a rollercoaster ride from downright easy to insanely hard to easy again
- Cheap enemy design and placement can make some areas of the game almost too infuriating to continue