Coming from Sobaka Studio is an intense new top down action game, Redeemer – Enhanced Edition. Looking like a more violent and bloody Diablo 3, my interest was piqued when I saw the trailer, but the question is, can it live up to the lofty goals of the game it reminds of?
Redeemer – Enhanced Edition follows the story of Vasily, who was a soldier and a mercenary, killing and slaughtering for whoever was able to pay the most money. Following a disagreement with one of his comrades, Vasily escapes in a helicopter, before crashing into a range of mountains. Luckily for him, he ended up near a monastery, and even more luckily, the head monk saw something good within him and allowed him to stay. Over the next few years, Vasily learned to control his bloodlust and find inner peace, as well as learning the martial arts of the monastery. He thought he had left his old life behind and forgot about it, but sadly his old life had never forgotten about him. As you’d expect in a game of this type, his old life one day came knocking on the door of the monastery, bringing death and destruction to the place where, ironically, he had found peace.
As Redeemer launches, Vasily is surrounded by his dead brothers, and left to face a monastery full of bad guys in order to try and save who is left. The first level runs pretty much as a tutorial, introducing you to the controls and attacks that you can utilise. As Vasily is pretty much a killing machine (although not as much as his old comrades, but you’ll find out about that when you play it for yourself, no spoilers here!) he can fight with bare hands, with melee weapons and with guns. Melee weapons can be found lying about the place, and range from small knives to staffs and axes, via crowbars and many others. As you’d expect, the smaller weapons are fast but not too damaging, while the heavier ones are slower to swing, but really hurt when you do make contact with an enemy. The firearms again can be found just scattered about the levels, or they can be taken from defeated enemies. And as you unlock new skills in Vasily’s skill tree, by finding scrolls and tablets hidden in the game, you can even unlock an ability to disarm enemies and use their weapons against them.
The controls for Redeemer – Enhanced Edition are absolutely spot on, with a tight, responsive feel that make playing the game an absolute pleasure. Stringing together dodge rolls, attacks, parries and an almost twin stick shooter mechanic, means that you never feel less than a badass. With the addition of a mechanic where killing enemies grants Vasily health, you almost have to always be fighting if you want to stay alive. There is a good stealth mechanic built in too though, where if you can sneak up behind an unaware enemy, they can be taken out in one attack.
Also included are some very gruesome environmental kills, throwing enemies into fires or shoving them into circular saws, for instance. In addition, some enemies have to be executed in order for them to be defeated, so after an extended beat down you have to bash the B button to dispatch these enemies in fairly spectacular fashion, ranging from breaking their spines over your knee, right up to a Patrick Swayze in Roadhouse throat rip move. The way these moves and weapon attacks flow together make Redeemer an absolute joy to play. It’s fast, furious, and bloody good fun. Pun very much intended.
Graphically, it all very much resembles Diablo 3, and clearly has a debt to pay to its forbearer. The viewpoint is the same, the gameplay is very similar, and the way the dodge roll works is almost identical. However, given that this is set in the near future of our world, the visuals are much more realistic, and the violence on display that much more graphic. There really is a difference between smacking a zombie with a sword in Diablo 3 and sneaking up behind a hapless human soldier and silently slitting his throat with a Bowie knife.
To add to the almost comic levels of violence, every now and then the camera will zoom in as Vasily dispatches a foe, slowing the action down to give the most graphic view possible. If you haven’t guessed, this isn’t one for the kids! Redeemer works very well soundwise as well, with crunching impacts and roaring guns, in addition to Vasily’s growled voiceover and the generally high standard of the voice acting all round. The story is also surprisingly well fleshed out, with cutscenes explaining what is going on, and a glossary which unlocks lore about characters in the game as you go through the levels.
So, all in all, Redeemer – Enhanced Edition on Xbox One is a very impressive game. In addition to the solo story mode, it is possible to play through all the levels in couch co-op style, and there is seemingly no impact on the speed or fluidity of the game – at least not from my time with it.
There is also a horde styled mode called Arena, where you have to face waves of enemies, culminating in a boss fight, recycled from the main game. This is good fun in its own right, allowing you to practice your timing on parries and dodges, and even reuse those skills in the story mode.
In conclusion, Redeemer – Enhanced Edition is a game that is more than worthy of your time. If you enjoy Diablo 3, any game in a similar style is always welcome, and even if you don’t, this is still just an unfettered joy. You have the ability to approach each level any way you see fit, either wading in with all guns blazing and fist flying, or being sneaky, taking out enemies silently like a ghost. Either way, the Enhanced Edition of Redeemer just works, and I can recommend it to anyone who has the slightest interest in a fast, fluid fighting game. It’s gory, great, and gloriously over the top.