Redeemer is like a bastard child of Diablo and Hotline Miami, with elements of both games in fairly equal measure. But can a top-down shooter with RPG elements combine into a thing of beauty?
Vasily was once a trained killer. But when his old boss tried to make him a cybernetic warrior, and his brother-in-arms agreed and turned against him, he went rogue before hiding in a monastery for years. But now they are back, have destroyed his home, and he is out for revenge. Cue a typical romp through the lands around the monastery until Vasily catches up with his old work colleagues and decides to kill them in a variety of gruesome ways…
Generally, this involves a mixture of unarmed, melee, and armed combat from a top-down perspective. Initially, with a levelling system and a relatively linear set of dungeons this makes the game feel a little bit Diablo-esque. In reality, the game plays more like Hotline Miami. Weapons (whether melee or ranged) have extremely limited durability, and the levels have a slight puzzle element to them where you will need to select the right weapons for the upcoming enemies. You can also view round corners and in front of you by manipulating the camera. The end result does mean the game sits rather uncomfortably in the middle, having neither the difficulty of Hotline nor the complexity and replayability of Diablo.
The levelling system is a big help though – you can get perks for either the monk class (melee) or soldier (ranged), which helps with the amount of ammo you find and the durability of your weapons.
Redeemer is a pretty short game. There’s 15 levels, which take on average 10-15 minutes each to finish, giving you a 4-hour or so game. Checkpoints are relatively generous, so dying will never set you back more than about a 1/3rd of a level. Whilst there is very little benefit to replaying missions, there are some better than average achievements which encourage you for playing in a certain way, such as knocking enemies off a bridge or using parts of the environment to kill them.
One of the ‘enhancements’ for this version of the game is the ability to play local co-op with another player. The game isn’t that hard, but it does add some elements of Smash TV into the mix. One note of caution though – it doesn’t aid performance much… see below!
Initially, Redeemer looks pretty decent – some stylish cartoon cut-scenes, and a decent art style. Vasily looks good too. The first level, the ruined monastery, has great visual variety, and plenty of explosions. Things start to go downhill a bit though. Later levels don’t seem significantly more visually complex, but often suffer from fairly appalling slowdown – on even on Xbox One X. Towards the end of the second act, there’s one particularly egregious section where some more sustained dynamic lighting comes into play on one level, and you have to play through an excruciating segment where you struggle to even get 15fps. There’s also issues with the animation too – I failed a level because an animation clipped me out the level causing me to die, and executions frequently glitch.
For a budget game, it’s no surprise that the voice acting is pretty cheesy, but it’s more disappointing there’s also a lack of music, and the sound effects are also pretty limited. The guns sound decent enough, but everything else feels a generation behind.
“Redeemer: Enhanced Edition” gives a good first impression, with a decent tutorial mission, some fun puzzle-based achievements, levelling, and a mix of combat mechanics. But by about a third of the way though the game runs out of new mechanics, instead relying on spiking the difficulty to maintain your interest as the story also begins to fizzle out. Beyond the fairly basic levelling system, there’s little to maintain the momentum, and unlike most Diablo clones, there are very few benefits or rewards to playing the game at a higher difficulty as there is no gear. If you can pick it up on the cheap, Redeemer will be a fun afternoon, just don’t expect too much from it long term.