HIGH Landing a mile-and-a-half jump.
LOW Score Endurance mode is a bit weak.
WTF The extremely sarcastic-sounding announcer.
I’m pretty sure Redout is the fastest racing game I’ve ever played. The obvious competition is F-Zero, but that series has been on hiatus for so long that I have no immediate point of comparison. The fact that I’m even drawing the parallel is, however, a compliment.
I’ve long held F-Zero GX as the standard for the anti-gravity racing genre, and since we’re thirteen years out from that release, this means that I’ve literally been waiting half of my life for the baton to be passed. 34BigThings’ Redout understands that I can go play one of the countless racing games featuring cars if I want to feel like I’m driving one, but when I boot up an AG racer, I’m looking for speed and three-dimensionality. I want to feel like I’m on a roller coaster.
Redout’s tracks wind through cities, forests and canyons, all of which seem gorgeous from the very fleeting glimpses I get of them — but I don’t have time to stop and admire the view. The important thing about all of the trees and mountains and skyscrapers is not how detailed they are, but how quickly they whiz past me. It’s integral to Redout’s overwhelming sense of speed that its environments are so massive in scope. By the end of a two-minute lap, I feel like I’ve just run the perimeter of a small country. The game frequently tells me that I’m exceeding 1000kph, and I believe it.
The developers openly cite F-Zero and Wipeout as major inspirations. I’ll forever hold that F-Zero, with its frenetic track designs and unparalleled sense of speed, is the better franchise outright, but there’s no denying that Wipeout has it beat for style. Perhaps the best thing I can say about Redout is that it presents the best of both worlds, combining the blistering pace of F-Zero with a slick, confident aesthetic that doesn’t make me slightly embarrassed to be playing it.
Not satisfied with pure homage, though, 34BigThings came up with a gimmick that gives Redout a bit of a unique identity. Players actually pilot their hovercraft with both analog sticks. The left is used for basic steering, while the right controls the ship’s strafe and pitch. Players are called to constantly angle their crafts for maximum efficiency of movement. If I hit a sharp loop, I’m expected to pull back to prevent the nose of my ship from dragging along the ground, slowing me down and dealing damage.
It’s a little terrifying to be handed a racer this blazingly fast and then encouraged to never hit the brake, but despite how serpentine some of its tracks get, nearly every corner in Redout can be cleared without drastically slowing one’s ship. In fact, the usual thrill of mastering a track was amplified here by the knowledge that I was able to maintain such a high velocity while navigating it. It’s empowering.
Redout’s surprisingly-beefy career mode gives players ample opportunity to learn each track, with solid variety in game types. There are plenty of outright races (with and without Wipeout-style power-ups), but I also had a great time with the other events, like the ones in which players get time deducted for as long as they can hold a target speed (usually 900kph). The boss levels are a particularly neat idea, as they use teleporters to string together segments of separate tracks, serving as a sort of “final exam” for each of Redout’s four zones.
The only mode I wasn’t a fan of was Score Endurance. Although I like the idea of grading participants based on performance rather than placement, Redout never clearly explains how to earn points in these events. They also typically span 12 to 14 laps, making them time sinks considering that I often wouldn’t even know why I was losing them. These levels aren’t common, but they’re notable for being the one instance when Redout is frustrating rather than enthralling.
I’d also argue that the multiplayer seems a bit too weighted in favor of experienced players. Money earned through races can be used to purchase and upgrade new ships, and since any craft can be brought into an online match, those who’ve dumped considerable time into the game’s campaign have a clear advantage. Still, with over 70 events, the single-player content is hearty enough.
Redout delivers excitement I haven’t felt since Nintendo released the last great F-Zero title over a decade ago. I don’t know if it’s the best racer I’ve ever played, but it’s almost certainly the most exhilarating, and earns its place among the very games it takes inspiration from.
Disclosures: This game is developed and published by 34BigThings. It is currently available on PC. This copy of the game was obtained via paid download and reviewed on the PC. Approximately 20 hours of play were devoted to the single-player mode, and the game was completed. Three hours of play were spent in multiplayer modes.
Parents: According to the ESRB, this game is rated Everyone and contains mild language. I have no idea what that’s even referring to, as I found no objectionable content in this game whatsoever.
Deaf & Hard of Hearing Gamers: Sound is not necessary to enjoy the game.
Remappable Controls: No, this game’s controls are not remappable.
Colorblind Modes: There are no colorblind modes available in the options.
He was born and raised in Amish country and has yet to escape, despite a brief stint in Philadelphia, where he attended Temple University. He took a one-credit course there called "Career Opportunities for English Majors," which painted a bleak picture for prospective writers. Mike remains steadfast in his ongoing role as a video game critic, however, and has recently written for GamesRadar. Most of his work can be found on HonestGamers, where he has contributed over 200 reviews to date.
When not playing games or writing about them, Mike is a rabid indie music fan and ardent concertgoer. He doesn't read as much as he probably should, but his current favorite author is Alastair Reynolds.