HomeReviews2.5/5 ReviewThe Lost Legends of Redwall: The Scout Anthology Review

The Lost Legends of Redwall: The Scout Anthology Review

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To me, Brian Jacques’ Redwall series is mentally pigeonholed alongside Watership Down, Animals of Farthing Wood and Secret of Nimh. These are animal-led properties from the ‘80s and ‘90s that I found to be wonderfully made, lovely and evocative, but they were liable to turn around and emotionally gut punch me. Just as I’d get cosy, a dead hedgehog, rabbit or mouse would appear in my lap. They were all emotional minefields. 

So, we went into The Lost Legends of Redwall: The Scout Anthology with mouse-like trepidation. Our whiskers twitched and we could feel the itching of old wounds. 

The Lost Legends of Redwall The Scout Anthology review 1
RUN! And don’t look back!

As it happens, we needn’t have worried – at least, not about that. The Lost Legends of Redwall: The Scout Anthology isn’t particularly interested in tugging at the heartstrings. This is more a take of mousey derring-do. But there was a minefield of a different sort: because The Lost Legends of Redwall: The Scout Anthology wobbles wildly between being perfunctory and chuck-the-pad infuriating. 

The Lost Legends of Redwall: The Scout Anthology was originally released as a series of three Telltale-like episodes, which are gathered together to form this release. The test is whether you can make it through the first of these episodes. All of the game’s frustrations are concentrated in this chapter (Soma Games do at least some course-correction in episodes two and three), so it becomes both a demo of everything that’s wrong with the game, and a gauntlet that you have to pass through to get to the slightly better stuff.

The first episode lines up the flaws neatly for you to sniff through, one by one. First of all, you can tell that The Lost Legends of Redwall: The Scout Anthology is based on a series of books, because it often feels like you’re reading them all. There is a lot of text here, whether in cutscene, journal or dialogue format, and while you can skip them, you’re still doing an awful lot of skipping. 

The quality of the writing isn’t bad, it’s just a tad humdrum. The various animals you chat to all worry about survival, each other and their own mental states, which is appreciable as some rats have invaded and everyone is fighting simply to survive. But the dialogue meanders, the journals are absolute bibles that only Jacques enthusiasts will lap up (did we really need some cooking recipes in there?), and the cutscenes tend to linger about twice as long as they have to. A framing device of a mouse being told the story against a backdrop of a theatrical performance ends up feeling unnecessary, and only serves to pad. 

The Lost Legends of Redwall The Scout Anthology review 2
That barrel is probably the best place to be

And why is everything so brown? The world of Redwall feels like it’s been carved out of an old oak tree, which is effective at first but doesn’t half become fatiguing by the end. We half-wanted the blood to flow, just so we could get some colour into the environment. 

But it’s not the wordiness that galls with The Lost Legends of Redwall: The Scout Anthology. It’s the way it feels on the sticks. Controlling Liam or Sophia, the game’s two Lilygrove Scouts, doesn’t feel satisfying at all. 

The Lost Legends of Redwall: The Scout Anthology is a third-person adventure, so there’s a deal of movement and traversal, as you jump, grab and slide through the levels like Lara Croft at 1:24 scale. But the movement is slow, the jumping has a slippery slide to it, and maneuvers like climbing are incredibly stiff, moving you only in cardinal directions. The blocking in the levels, too, keeps getting in the way, as invisible barriers are just as potent an enemy as the rats. The game keeps gesturing wide to its world, saying “go, explore!”, but then confines you to very specific places. 

The world isn’t particularly readable, either. Ledges might look grabbable when they aren’t. Ladders can be climbable or decoration. Holes for burrowing are so incredibly small and, yes, brown, making them difficult to spot. Other mounds of earth look like they would be diggable, but aren’t. You can drop down from some areas without an issue, while others kill you outright. 

The Lost Legends of Redwall The Scout Anthology review 3
Do you like ‘brown’?

This lack of legibility is none more fatal than in the game’s puzzles. Occasionally, The Lost Legends of Redwall: The Scout Anthology wants you to push blocks around and solve environmental dilemmas, but the constituent parts of the puzzle are hard to distinguish from background stuff. A hole in the bottom of a wall becomes vital, when you’ve passed holes like it plenty of times before. On a couple of occasions – one near the start, one near the end – we had to resort to walkthroughs after giving up. 

But where The Lost Legends of Redwall: The Scout Anthology gets most of its gameplay from is stealth. Stealth in half-baked games gives me the willies: it has to be done well, as stealth is a one-hit kill that undoes all of your good work. If you feel cheated, it can fire a poison-dart into your enjoyment. And in The Lost Legends of Redwall: The Scout Anthology, it’s poor. 

The one notable idea in The Lost Legends of Redwall: The Scout Anthology is a scent system: a version of Batman Arkham City’s Detective Mode where you can apply a layer onto the game world and see smells. It’s fab, and works well everywhere except stealth. Because now you have a scent-trail following behind you, and you have to get that through a stealth maze, and not just your mouse. It’s like being Hitman, but you’ve unwittingly got a roll of toilet paper stuck to your foot. Enemies can find you OR your long, dangling scent, so you’re desperately trying to keep stock of what they can see AND sniff. It’s a ballache, and ballaches are rarely fun. 

The Lost Legends of Redwall: The Scout Anthology seems to acknowledge this in episodes 2 and 3, and turns stealth into a puzzle rather than a complicated, systemic approach like Hitman. It does wonders, but it’s still not perfect: enemies swing pendulum-like between being dumb or psychic, and it never quite feels right that ringing bells will distract a rat forever. It becomes less likely to cause a rage-quit, but it’s hardly great. 

The Lost Legends of Redwall The Scout Anthology review 4
As full of holes as Swiss cheese

The last nail in The Lost Legends of Redwall: The Scout Anthology’s coffin is some wacky, out of place sequences that don’t so much lack refinement, as feel like they emerged from the mines that morning. Chase sequences try to emulate Crash Bandicoot, but almost nothing about them works. Both the main character and the enemy dance around like drunkards, and we ended up hammering buttons in the hope that it would all end. 

Everything about The Lost Legends of Redwall: The Scout Anthology screams ‘this was rushed’. Perhaps the episodic release structure was to blame, tying Soma Games to dates that they couldn’t hit. 

Because while The Lost Legends of Redwall: The Scout Anthology is earnest, and Redwall fans will lap up the additions to the lore, it’s also ragged. Stealth, platforming and puzzles are all attempted, and not one feels anything less than patchy. It ends up as full of holes as Swiss cheese.

SUMMARY

Pros:
  • Goes deep with storytelling and lore
  • Voice-actors do a sterling job
  • Scent system is a neat addition
Cons:
  • Stealth is pretty dire
  • Hard to explore when the world’s a confusing mess
  • Chase sequences are overly messy
Info:
  • Massive thanks for the free copy of the game, Soma Games
  • Formats - Xbox Series X|S (review), Xbox One, PS4, PS5, PC
  • Release date and price - 22 February 2024 | £20.99
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<b>Pros:</b> <ul> <li>Goes deep with storytelling and lore</li> <li>Voice-actors do a sterling job</li> <li>Scent system is a neat addition</li> </ul> <b>Cons:</b> <ul> <li>Stealth is pretty dire</li> <li>Hard to explore when the world’s a confusing mess</li> <li>Chase sequences are overly messy</li> </ul> <b>Info:</b> <ul> <li>Massive thanks for the free copy of the game, Soma Games</li> <li>Formats - Xbox Series X|S (review), Xbox One, PS4, PS5, PC <li>Release date and price - 22 February 2024 | £20.99</li> </ul>The Lost Legends of Redwall: The Scout Anthology Review
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