The Gauntlet is thrown
You are Vasily, an assassin with a troubled past. As you started looking into cybernetic augmentation and alteration, it all got a bit much, and you wanted to leave. It almost cost you your life but you got out. 20 years later, after living in peace with a sect of monks, your ex-employers have tracked you down. After having the life you’ve cherished for two decades ripped away, you are happy, and everyone who’s ever crossed you will find out just how much.
Redeemer mixes Gauntlet-style top-down brawling with the sort of close-up gory kills that the likes of Mortal Kombat and God Of War regularly champion. Sobaka’s brawler keeps the copy-and-paste combat fresh by taking you on a tour of some of the nicest-looking environments you can ask for from a budget title; the quality of the inventive level designs really does belie the game’s £15 price tag. The fact that they’re almost fully destructible can’t be overlooked, either: you’ll spend so much time just breaking stuff we feel it should have been part of the game’s marketing.
The combat feels like a watered-down version of what you’d find in Batman’s Arkham games, though. Instead of Bat-gadgets, however, you’ll be using whatever tools the gothic environments throw at you; chairs, explosive barrels, crowbars… it definitely gives you a crazy power rush as you string long combos together, but the game is prevented from ever feeling completely satisfying thanks to performance issues (even on the best rigs) and an overall limited number of viable attacks and combo-enders.
Even though it feels like you’ll be fighting the same soldier repeatedly on your trek through the long game, Sobaka does a good job of giving what enemy variety there is a solid personality: well-rendered models with distinctive attack patterns and sophisticated AI. Enemies will clock the rooms they’re in and move around cautiously, sometimes attacking in pairs, sometimes keeping their distance. It keeps you on your toes, even when you think you’ve mastered the game.
Without a doubt, Redeemer’s best offerings are its arena battles: tense, Horde mode-like fights where you’re constantly under threat of being overwhelmed by enemies. It’s in these arenas that you can really experiment with the combat system and cause absolute bloody mayhem as you go from enemy to enemy, decapitating and ripping throats out like you’re bobbing for Adam’s apples. Just beware: the more that’s happening on screen, the more the frame rate chugs. It can be frustrating, especially when you need to nail your timing on a combo-ending super move.
Redeemer provides a solid experience for anyone who’s hankering for some old-school, top-down violence, but it feels like it was released in an unfinished state. The combat delivers on the brutal power fantasy gimmick, but parts of the game feel overlong, and even though Sobaka has tried to create a lived-in, memorable world, sometimes the game’s personality gets lost behind the Dynasty Warriors-like combo mashing. Redeemer is great for relieving stress… if you can put up with its underwhelming performance and repetitiveness.
“Redeemer’s best offerings are its arena battles: tense, horde mode-like fights”
Redeemer is never better than when you’re asked to kick multiple people to death all at once.