by Thomas Mikkelsen
reviewed on PC
Gory top-down action
Redeemer is a violent and gory top-down action game that requires more tactical thinking than your average beat-em- or shoot-em-up. That is not to say that it lets down on the action, far from it, but it is uniquely suited for its adult audience. While Redeemer looks stunning, some of the animations could have used some polish and I experienced some graphics stutter even on a brand new gaming laptop. Regardless, I thoroughly enjoyed my time with it and will continue to do so.
Anyone who grew up with the classic platformers of the NES era remembers flinging the controller about trying to help the protagonist along. Such was our immersion into the gameplay of those years, partly due to the novelty of the medium and partly because of our young, naive minds, but as adults, we no longer do that. Now, we sit stationary with our forearms resting on our thighs twiddling our fingers - no visible sign of engagement other than the tension in our backs and the volume of our voices. Sometimes, though, a game comes along that reawakens that primal urge to flail our arms about. While Redeemer didn’t elicit as strong a response as Mount and Blade did for me, my shoulder twitched and the controller became animate as I faced off my first group of four enemies; dodging, rolling, hitting, kicking, and shooting my way through them.
You are Vasily, a former expert assassin, torturer, and all around bad dude turned good. For twenty years, you have called the monastery home, and your brother monks your family. But you can only hide from your past for so long. Eventually, it will find you. As the monastery is flooded with armed men who slaughter your brothers like cattle, you are the only one capable of fighting back. Who these men are and why they are after you, as well as why they take some of your brother monks alive but slaughter the rest, is a mystery.
The redeemer as a character is a buff older man with a long white beard and, despite the Asian setting, he feels as heavy as his looks would make him. Every punch, kick, hit, blow, or stab you hit, though, feels visceral. There’s an audible sound of bones cracking when you hit an enemy with a sledgehammer, for instance, and a knife gives you a fleshy slicing sound. The audio design is quite well done and must be commended. The game is quite a looker from its top-down perspective and I thoroughly enjoyed it, but when you perform a final blow and the camera zooms in on the action, you’ll notice some strange animations and blood splatter placement that doesn’t really make sense. It’s a nice feature and would have been worth devoting some more resources to. The game did slow down quite a bit with the graphics turned way up, even though my laptop is more than adequately equipped to handle a game of this calibre, so some optimisation might be worth prioritising in future patches.
The gameplay is excellent. The simple controls make it easy to pick up and even in the midst of a fight you won’t be struggling to find the right button to press or do the wrong thing because of an overabundance of options. A punches, X kicks, Y dodge rolls, and B picks up objects to throw and performs assassinations. If you have a gun available, pull the right analogue stick in any direction and press the right trigger to shoot. The right shoulder button picks up weapons in the scene and, you guessed it, the left analogue stick moves you around.
Melee weapons are easy to find in the scene, but most firearms you’ll have to pick up from dead soldiers. All weapons have a limited durability (your guns run out of ammo and you can’t reload them). All you can do is pick up a new one whenever you have taken down an enemy. And there’s no random drop either. If an enemy had a weapon, they will drop that weapon, which heavily factors into which enemy to prioritise during a fight. You’ll often have to pick up weapons in the middle of a fight, during a dodge roll, in order to turn that weapon on your opponents, and it is just as satisfying as it sounds. Going in with only a sledge hammer, beating a guy with a pistol, picking up the pistol to take down another one holding a machine gun, dodge rolling past another, picking up the machine gun as you pass over it and spinning around to end the last two adversaries feels absolutely bad-ass, but if you fail to analyse your opponents and engage them appropriately, you’ll most likely suffer the fate of your fellow monks. Dodge rolling into a gang of shotgun wielding heavies, for instance, is a bad idea.
Redeemer is an excellent game coming out of Moscow and Kalingrad, Russia and I recommend it to anyone looking for a fast-paced, action packed gore fest that requires a little more thought than your average beat-em-up. Don’t expect much in terms of a story, though. It’s not bad, it’s just not unique enough to be a selling point either.
Visceral action, looks good, sounds gory.
Odd animations, 'meh' story, poorly optimised.