Brutal, Yet Benign

HIGH Absolutely bulldozing bad guys.

LOW An unsatisfying ‘puzzle’ boss fight out of nowhere.

WTF Tearing an enemy’s arm off and beating him down with it

Sometimes a game comes along that gets by on base satisfaction, and Redeemer epitomizes that kind of dumb action in a ‘popcorn movie’ sort of way. It stays lightweight and straightforward for most of its short runtime, sharing a lot of DNA with top-down shooters like Hotline Miami — just without their signature difficulty. It may only have one trick to show, but it’s a good one.

Redeemer follows the story of Vasily, a soldier-turned-ascetic with a violent past. History comes calling when his old private military outfit attacks Vasily’s monastery, leaving him to fight his way out on a quest for revenge. The plot plays between battles using heavily stylized comic book-like scenes, but even though they look great, the story’s paper-thin.

Redeemer clearly hangs its hat on its action. Players punch, kick, strangle, choke slam, shoot, stab, explode, and electrocute enemies constantly. There are also plenty of tools to dispatch baddies in the environment, like ambient buzzsaws or vats of acid. Enemies also drop extremely powerful weapons with limited ammo. There’s even some limited stealth action, allowing Vasily to winnow bad guys down with backstabs before the real fight begins.

The main challenge of Redeemer comes from enemy numbers – they often attack in big crowds. However, even with the advantage of numbers, the overall difficulty remains mild throughout. Outside of the last fight, I died less than three times in the entire campaign. Those who crave a challenge may want bump the difficulty settings up.

Once players settle on the right amount of difficulty, it’s disappointing to find that the action is really the only thing to suggest Redeemer. The plot is barely present and didn’t elicit any feelings from me. Enemy-filled hallways don’t offer much to explore. No, the main draw here is the insane beat ‘em up violence — I enjoyed my time with it, but I’m a sucker for this sort of stuff.

However, even as a fan of this sort of content, it’s tough to ignore Redeemer‘s biggest issue — repetition. With nothing to speak of beyond the combat, it overstays its welcome quickly. After about two hours, I found myself checking the clock and noticing that minutes felt like hours. The game occasionally introduces new enemies and weapons to spice things up, but the differences are minimal, making these moments too minor and too infrequent.

Sobaka Studio seems to be at least a little self-aware of the repetition issue, so it’s lucky things wraps up quickly – it only took me about six hours to roll credits, but this is a good thing. If Redeemer had been any longer, it would have been an intolerable slog.

Despite my complaints, Redeemer has me excited to see future work from this studio. The systems here are a great platform to expand upon in a sequel, and at its core, the experience does offer great gameplay — it’s just not enough to carry the entire experience.

Rating: 5 out of 10

— Michael Prehn

Disclosures: This game is developed by Sobaka Studio and published by Good Shepherd Entertainment and Buka Entertainment. It is currently available on PS4, XBO, Switch, and PC. This copy of the game was obtained via publisher and reviewed on the PS4 Pro. Approximately 6 hours of play were devoted to the single-player mode, and the game was completed. No time was spent in multiplayer modes

Parents: According to the ESRB, this game is rated M and contains Intense Violence and Blood and Gore. Just like the warning says, keep the kids away from this one! Combat often includes acts such as shooting or stabbing people, decapitation, electrocution, and snapping enemies’ bones.

Colorblind Modes: There are no colorblind modes available in the options.

Deaf & Hard of Hearing Gamers: The game offers full subtitles, but there is no option to resize them. There are no audio cues necessary for successful gameplay.

Remappable Controls: The controls in this game are not remappable.

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