You know what I’ve never understood? Those weird little performances or pageants that parents and teachers subject young children to. You know those weird ones where the kids have to sing songs they’ve learned in school or, heaven forbid, mimic the sounds of dying animals on those screechingly awful recorders. I suppose it’s all for looks, isn’t it? Parents want to see their little child looking cute while participating in an activity with others. Like an afterschool performance of kiddies, Redout: Space Assault is all about the looks, and unless you’re a small child or the parent of one, you probably won’t be interested in it.
Brought to us by the studio 34BigThings, Redout: Space Assault is an arcade space shooter. You’ll never believe this, but your main goal is to pilot a spaceship through space and shoot other ships. Crazy right?! It’s perfectly fine to have a spacey setting for your spaceship action game, but every generic sci-fi word that’s ever been made is used within this game. “The fusion reactor is going to destroy the entire quadrant! Bravo 1, we’re going to need you to use a particle accelerating, warp drive in order to…”, so on and so forth. This is arguably the game’s biggest issue. Nothing feels like it stands out or is unique enough to warrant its existence.
This is all immediately apparent within the game’s story. Setting-wise, it just doesn’t have any depth or flavor to it. Characters are poorly acted, lazily written, and completely banal. If I’m honest, the game would be vastly improved by removing just about all of the story elements. A series of fun challenges in space would be perfectly fine.
However, the game is not fun to play at all. Like many of the genre, you’ll go from mission to mission attempting to complete an objective or two. Most of the time they entail shooting baddies or shooting near baddies. I say near, because this game doesn’t need you or anyone else in order to play it. By default, your ship shoots at baddies automatically. Slightly aim near them, and the game does all the rest for you. To be fair, you can fire missiles yourself, but those lock on immediately no matter where you’re aiming.
“That’s odd”, I can foresee you thinking, “but I guess the challenge comes from dodging enemy attacks?”. Good guess! Wrong, though. Upon death, your ship is immediately respawned. No loading screen, checkpoints, or anything. There isn’t a life system either. You can die and come back as many times as you like. This sounds neat until you realize that the majority of the game’s missions’ only requirement for completion is to get to the end of the level. It all feels incredibly pointless. You can beat almost every level by starting the mission, and setting down your controller while you watch the latest episode of whatever TV show it is that people watch nowadays. Sure, you won’t earn any in-game credits to buy upgrades for your ship, but what’s the point? If one can beat the missions without those upgrades by doing nothing, then there is absolutely zero incentive for trying to earn said upgrades.
Now, I should emphasize that not every mission plays itself. There are some, though very few, that require you to defeat a particular ship or number of ships in order to progress. On those levels you can move the stick just a bit more in order to let the ship shoot more effectively instead of just leaving your controller by itself. Whoopee! I’ll also point out that there are bonus objectives for doing a bit more than the mission requires, but your reward is more in-game currency that’s worth less than in-store credit at GameStop.
Truthfully, tackling those bonus objectives would be an appetizing challenge if Redout was more fun, because it is visually appealing. Kinda. It runs at a nice, smooth framerate, enemy attacks are communicated well most of the time, the colors look nice, and there is a lot of detail in the environments. One of my favorite parts visually are the effects that pop up on and around your ship when you take damage. It’s clear that a great deal of work went into making the game sparkle. Yet, I hesitate to praise the visuals because of the issue mentioned earlier within this review: the game isn’t nearly unique enough. If one were to Google, “generic spaceship floating through generic space video game”, this is probably what would turn up.
I’m afraid that Redout: Space Assault on Xbox just isn’t worth it. The game couldn’t be less interesting to play, because it isn’t interested in having you play it. Its story, if one could call it that, is a mindless distraction, and everything feels pointless. Even with the auto-shooting turned off, the game offers next to no challenge at all. Like those school performances by children, the game is focused entirely on presentation. On the bright side, however, you won’t hear a single recorder.