I always loved playing Road Rash in my younger days, so naturally Road Redemption is a game that certainly caught my attention when it was announced a few years back. I mean, it takes everything that made the classically vicious motorcycle racer so good and brings it to a modern audience, all whilst giving it its own unique sense of identity thanks to the addition of some modern features. It sounds like a recipe for a fantastic arcade racer, right?
Well, for the most part Road Redemption gets a lot right, but there are a few flaws to be found that stop it from speeding towards violent-racing perfection. Still, those looking for a Road Rash-like fix are in for a good time…
Road Redemption is set in a post-apocalyptic world where biker gangs are competing to earn the bounty for a mysterious assassin. The prize? A sweet fifteen million dollars, which is enough to warrant anyone speeding down highways on a bike and attempting to dismember anyone that gets in their way.
Earning this bounty involves taking part in countless events across the world that are made up of things like racing, setting the best time in time-trials, surviving to the end of a race without getting hurt, and even killing a specified amount of opponents throughout a race – those last two make it pretty clear there’s a lot of violence involved in the game, right? I have to give Road Redemption some credit for adding a combat system to the racing that’s actually fun to play with though. There are plenty of different weapons to use ranging from metal pipes and swords to guns and bombs, whilst there are even defensive manoeuvres to utilise that allow you to block or deflect attacks. It all adds a fun dimension to the game that shows it not all about racing though and it makes taking out your opponents all the more satisfying – it certainly adds to the chaotic nature of the game as a whole.
The main game mode of Road Redemption is the single player campaign, which sees you working across a countless variety of events that each give the player specific conditions to complete them under. Most interestingly, they all take place over procedurally generated levels too, meaning you won’t have the same race twice (even if some sections of the courses get repeated as you progress through the game). As you go through the campaign you’ll unlock new bikes, riders (some of which are very creative in design) and perks that’ll improve your racing skills, whilst a constant flow of cash keeps you rich too. Those perks I mentioned become pretty essential – Road Redemption takes a rogue-like approach where each death literally sees you starting your adventure on the road all over again with your perks carrying over between each playthrough.
Whilst it adds a modern twist onto the Road Rash formula, I actually wasn’t a big fan of the game’s campaign. The roguelike approach where you’re essentially replaying through a lot of the same things over and over again didn’t take too long to feel repetitive even with the procedurally generated courses (you’re always just speeding down a road after all), whilst there wasn’t a real sense of satisfaction to be had from unlocking new perks either – they typically just increased your stats a bit, which only made repeat playthroughs feel easier as opposed to any different. I’m sure fans of roguelikes will get some satisfaction out of the fact you’ll slowly see yourself progress that little bit further with each subsequent attempt at playing through Road Redemption’s campaign, but I wish it did a few more different things to add that extra ounce of variety to each playthrough.
Fortunately, there are events outside of the campaign that offer a more traditional racing experience that don’t punish you for dying, so there are plenty of opportunities to just burn rubber, have a hectic race, and decapitate rival racers just for the fun of it. There’s a decent selection of environments to race across in these events too – a personal favourite were the city rooftops where you’d be constantly pulling off mad jumps between each building, though the icy cliffs were a highlight too. These events just offer an old-school racing experience that concentrates more on offering what Road Rash did: a simple race with no modern gameplay features to over-complicate things.
That’s not to say there still aren’t a few issues to be found though. Take the AI for example, which is a little too smart – they weave in and out of traffic with minimal fuss, whilst the way they land during collisions can be a bit TOO perfect at times. The same can’t be said for the player though, with the game physics often working against you by launching you across the road even after just a minor scrape with another vehicle. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing that ruins the game, but it could easily cause a few frustrating moments as you try to speed your way to victory.
I’d be remiss not to mention Road Redemption’s multiplayer features, with both online racing and local split-screen multiplayer on offer. Interestingly, there’s both competitive and co-operative racing too, so you don’t have to be at each other’s throats if you don’t want to. Personally, I loved taking on my friends in four-player split-screen action and took a lot of joy in wiping them out over and over again, but hey, at least the option to play nice is there…
Developer: EQ-Games, Pixel Dash Studios
Publisher: Tripwire Interactive
Platform(s): Xbox One (Reviewed), PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, PC, Mac, Linux