After releasing on PC back in 2017, Sobaka Studio’s action-packed brawler Redeemer has now made its way over to consoles, with the new ‘Enhanced Edition’ bringing with it a host of improvements and additional gameplay mechanics. Are those enhancements enough to make it stand out as a must play brutal brawling experience though, or is it more of a case of bloody-style over substance? Fortunately, it’s the former, though there are a few missteps along the way that stop Redeemer: Enhanced Edition from striving towards brilliance.
In Redeemer: Enhanced Edition, players take on the role of the monk Vasily; a former solider for a shady yet powerful cybernetics company that now lives a life of peace. His past comes back to haunt him though when the company send out soldiers to come and hunt Vasily down, killing all of the monks around him and destroying his monastery in the process. With his now peaceful life in ruins, Vasily looks to seek revenge in the only way he knows: by breaking bones, crushing skulls, and leaving a trail of bloody limbs in the path to his goal. It’s not the deepest narrative you’re going to encounter in a video game, but hey, it adds an incentive for all of the killing that you’re about to do and is paced in a good enough way to keep you invested in everything that is going on.
It is in all of the killing where Redeemer: Enhanced Edition really shines, with Vasily proving to be quite the dab-hand at… uh… using his hands to dismember and pulverize his foes. Simple button presses will mash out hordes of punches and kicks that can deal some serious damage to your foes, dismember them (and then allow you to use their limbs as a weapon against them…), and even allow you to launch enemies into the environment as a creative way to pull off particularly brutal executions (these were my favourite way to kill). Alternatively, those who prefer killing from afar can use one of the myriad of weapons that are available, with Vasily proving just as effective with firearms as he is with his fists. Those who prefer to be sneaky can hit one-hit stealth kills if they go undetected, whilst you can also play defensively by blocking attacks or rolling out of the reach of danger.
It all comes together nicely to make for an intuitively satisfying combat system, where the only thing holding you back is your imagination. Stringing together combos of kills is easy thanks to the accessibility of the simple controls, whilst pulling off things like blasting enemies with a shotgun, launching it away when you’re out of bullets, and then finishing them off by throwing them in a fire-pit NEVER grows old – especially when you can then use one of the limbs they left behind to kill everyone else. That’s just one example, too; Vasily has MORE than a few ways to paint the environment red with the blood of his enemies…
You can level up his abilities too, with two different class paths to follow that offer different upgrades: Solider and Monk. Soldier focuses more on the weapons you find throughout the game and improving their effectiveness, whilst Monk covers your hand-to-hand abilities – it means you can cater your abilities to the playstyle that most suits you. There are some particularly neat abilities to unlock throughout the game so it’s something that’s definitely worth investing in, especially in the Monk class where you can unlock an ability that can potentially obliterate your foe in one hit. Whatever class you decide to focus on, the influx of new abilities you unlock helps keep combat feel fresh throughout, with the new tricks up your sleeve ensuring that Vasily’s strength increases enough to cope with the game’s tough latter sections.
Whilst the combat of Redeemer: Enhanced Edition is great and offers plenty of satisfying ways to dispose of your enemies, the levels themselves could be a little bit too repetitive in design. Most are pretty linear with just one clear path to follow, whilst there wasn’t a whole lot to them outside of just killing enemies and progressing – sure, there may be a few traps to avoid here and there and sometimes a stealth approach would be advised, but for the most part they felt a bit unimaginative. It’s a shame too, because you do go to some interesting and varied locales on your journey – they just rarely changed things up from a gameplay perspective.
It shouldn’t take players too long to beat Redeemer: Enhanced Edition, with my first playthrough lasting between six and seven hours. It’s a decent length for this kind of game and ensured that I didn’t grow bored, regardless of the repetitive level design. Those who want an extra challenge could take on the harder difficulty to extend their time with the game or even find all of the collectibles, whilst the additional Arena mode gives you a host of extra combat-based challenges to play around with. There’s certainly plenty of content here to keep you busy, with Redeemer: Enhanced Edition offering enough bang for your buck.
Then there’s the local co-op multiplayer, which allows you to blast through Vasily’s adventure with a friend. I had a LOT of fun with this, with the brutal combat of the game providing plenty of laughs as I worked through each action-packed level with one of my friends, whilst the additional pair of hands also made it easier to work through some of the tougher sections. In many ways, the gameplay of Redeemer: Enhanced Edition is very old-school in design, so embracing that with a friend by my side likes the glory days of beat ‘em ups in the 90s was something that I really loved.
Developer: Sobaka Studio
Publisher: Sobaka Studio, Koch Media
Platform(s): Xbox One (Reviewed), PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, PC