PLEASE NOTE:
Since we reviewed Redeemer, the developers have released a patch that includes the following:

‘Performance and stability improvements, fixed screen resolution issues, greatly improved framerate stability, tweaked UI, improved audio, addressed text display issues and fixed minor gameplay bugs.’
Whilst not yet tested by us, it should at least fix a few of the issues mentioned in this review.

Ever wanted to play a game where you take control of a Monk who goes on a killing rampage? Well now you can, thanks to the release of top-down melee brawler Redeemer from developer Sobaka Studio.

Redeemer puts you into the shoes of Vasily, a Monk who has a violent past thanks to the years he spent working for a shady Cybernetic Weapons Manufacturer. After they tried to make him their latest victim by turning him into a Cyborg Soldier, Vasily escaped their grasp and made his way to the mountains to live a life of peace in solace. The past has caught up with him though, and Vasily finds himself in a fight for his life against his old employers.

Seeing as Redeemer is a game about busting people’s faces open as you smash their bodies apart, you can’t expect too much of an in-depth story. It’s a decent little tale though and one that kept me motivated as I worked through the game; it worked well with Redeemer’s focus on action and the small bits of Vasily’s past that are revealed as you work through the game help expand on his history with his ex-employers. The narrative isn’t the highlight of the game, but it’s certainly a nice addition.

Your main goal in Redeemer is to simply kill all enemies that come your way as you make your way to the end of each level.  It primarily focuses on up-close brawling, with Vasily more than competent at punching, kicking, or throwing any of his foes around to their death. In fact, I’d say he’s more of an expert; there’s nothing more satisfying that having Vasily beat his opponents to smithereens before eventually pulling their throats out or smashing them through some of the environment’s destructible objects. Redeemer is certainly brutal, but I love it.

Everything about Redeemer feels old-school, with the game featuring a top-down, button-mashing vibe that focuses on raw, action-packed gameplay rather than overly intricate mechanics. It makes it easier to become a brutal killing machine, with almost every combat action in the game easily performed by pressing just two buttons; combos string together with ease, making the murder of enemies a simple task. It’s all about empowering the player and making them feel like they’re an action hero, with each of your foes easily felled in the most gruesome of fashions thanks to the way you can use your environment and its countless weapons to your advantage.

You’ll come across plenty of weapons as you plough through Redeemer’s story mode and each feels incredibly satisfying to use, with simple melee weapons like knives and axes mixing well with the ranged firearms on offer. None of the weapons ever last that long thanks to their limited durability, but there are plenty to find so you never find yourself unarmed for too long. Not that it would matter too much anyway – Vasily is able to use the environment to pull off hellish kills too. Whilst these often involve simply smashing an opponent into a wall or powerbombing them through a stone bench, you’ll also eventually see yourself impaling them on spikes or blending them to pieces within motorised blades. It isn’t pretty, but it’s certainly a satisfying means to make your enemies meet their end.

Vasily is also able to parry enemy attacks as well as quickly roll out of the way of them, meaning he’s just as effective on the defensive side as he is the offensive. They’re simple manoeuvres, but mastering the use of them can become pretty vital during some of the game’s trickier levels. There are stealth mechanics in place too that allow you to sneak through levels and quietly perform one-hit kills on any unaware opponents. In honesty though I didn’t utilise them too much – whilst it might’ve been the smart way to play, you’ll have more fun simply running in and trying your luck at going head on with your enemies. It’s during these more brutal action-packed moments that Redeemer really shines, though if you prefer the quiet approach that’s an option too.

There are plenty of different enemy types to take on in Redeemer that ensure the game never feels like just a button masher.  Sometimes enemies will be invulnerable to melee attacks, or perhaps simply need to be picked off from a distance. Other times you’ve got to patiently wait for your moment, with foes seemingly impossible to take down until you notice a small chink in their armour. It’s easy to think that the game is mindless and for the most part it can be, but there are certainly moments where you need to concentrate and think about your actions.

Redeemer

That being said, once you’ve come across these moments once in the game you’ll begin to get used to them quite quickly. Redeemer doesn’t pride itself on masses of variety and there isn’t a whole lot of it on offer throughout the game’s sixteen levels to keep you overly invigorated from a gameplay perspective. There are no form of upgrades, unlockable abilities, or special equipment to find, with all forms of progress in the game simply boiling down to reaching the next level. Whilst it’s easy to appreciate that this old-school style is what Redeemer is aiming for, there are too many similar games available that offer a lot more depth within their mechanics for it to be easily overlooked. You won’t really grow tired of the constant killing because it remains fun throughout, but you will start to catch on to the fact that it’s all the game is really made up of.

One thing that Redeemer has certainly got going for it is that it’s a pretty game, with the top down style utilised perfectly to deliver a visually pleasing world to explore. There are a ton of different environments that you’ll be fighting across, with each one well-designed and full to the brim with detail (some for show, some to smash your enemies into). The way the game handles destruction is top notch too, with each level clearly showing the signs of a vicious battle after you’ve gone through them; Redeemer is all about dishing out brutal violence, so it’s nice to see that levels show the aftermath of your actions after you’re done with them.

Redeemer

There were some technical issues to be found though, with the game suffering from a few framerate drops even when running on a decent gaming rig – it’s not a constant issue, but something that could became noticeable during the heat of action in-game. There were a few long loading times too, though they were a bit more few and far between. It’s not something the game suffers with on a regular basis, but you will certainly notice that you’re left twiddling your thumbs at times.

Conclusion

Redeemer delivers a brutally satisfying old-school action experience that’s a lot of fun to play through. There’s nothing in the game that’s going to blow you away and it’s also lacking the depth found in a modern action game, but it won’t stop you having a hell of a good time as you throw enemies around each level, punch and kick them to smithereens, and eventually rip out their throats all in one combo. It’s savage stuff, but it’s certainly satisfying.

It has a few underlying technical issues and it’s lacking in variety, but anyone who loves a good old fashioned top-down brawler should give Redeemer a try.

Developer: Sobaka Studio
Publisher: Gambitious Digital Entertainment
Release Date: 01/08/2017
Format(s): PC

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