Welcome ladies and gentlemen, Retroark here once again. The Nintendo Switch is one of the few platforms I play on regularly outside of PC. I realized some time ago that as an avid PC gaming enthusiast; The Switch has plenty to offer. Although the Switch may not perform in ways my desktop can graphically, it performs admirably in ways that my desktop couldn’t even hope to. I love my Switch dearly for entirely different reasons from my desktop. Namely, the couch Co-op anywhere capability, its mobile performance and battery life and the existence of wildly varying types of gaming available on its platform. From retro remasters to full-fledged triple A mobile ports, the Switch has a lot to offer. Redeemer is one of those offerings.
So Let’s take a deep dive into Redeemer, shall we?
I will start with mechanics because it is the best thing this game has to offer. Redeemer takes notes from games like Spider-Man and the Arkham series, delivering solid fighting mechanics in a top-down environment. Punching, Kicking, melee weapons and firearms all feel solid. Most of the executions are satisfying, the result of the graphic design allowing for close camera cinematics. The gunplay is also solid, forcing you to swap between found weapons to maintain ammo counts. They backed the entire experience by an interesting combat upgrade system that allows you to upgrade everything. Unlock new skills and combos in hand to hand combat and melee weapon proficiency as you go. You can even unlock new attributes for each type of firearm tree, allowing you to use each weapon more effectively in combat. All these systems combined culminate into a solid base for which to build Redeemer on.
Stealth kills feel very good
Don’t ask me why a monk is wearing Converse… Product placement?
Monks secret technique: Stick style
They injured No monks in the making of this game…
The visual aspects of Redeemer are where things fall apart, unfortunately. Although the graphical work put into this game is solid at its base, I have run into many issues concerning frame rate that seems to follow me throughout the gameplay presented in Redeemer. It was like a small demon, rearing its head at the worst times. In Redeemer frame rate is unreliable, sections of the maps having random frame rate dips into as low as 10 frames. I eventually concluded that it does not tie the frame rate drops to the amount of enemies or the map stylization. Rather, the frame rate tanks in the same locations on maps every play through. It is such a consistent issue throughout the different maps that I wonder if anyone even played, much less optimized the Nintendo port of the game before release.
The story of Redeemer is by far the biggest miss step the game took. Starting off strongly, the game puts you in the shoes of a man who has taken to the monk’s life. A soldier, trained to kill, addicted to killing, only looking for an escape from it. However, once he had finally found his escape, war only came to find him again. It is a very strong opening that really had me invested in it from the very start. I hated the enemy for what they had done to the monastery. Unfortunately however, the game slowly falls apart after the opening. Redeemer quickly devolves into a run-of-the-mill story, falling into a good deal of cliché tropes that it never truly escapes. This is rather unfortunate as well because the opening of the game is very strong.
This scene was powerful…
A Subjective Look
The story of Redeemer dedicated an entire act of the game to zombies, a creative choice that threw me off completely. It was strange to me that the story took this direction, leaving me confused. I had thought the idea behind this was to show how evil the bad guys really were. The thing is, that was never a problem to begin with. I already hated the enemy for what they had done at the monastery, I needed no more of a reason to hate them than that. And in my subjective opinion, the entire zombie section was unneeded and brought the whole experience down. Or so I thought as I played it. Unfortunately, I came to find later that this part of the story was not lengthy bloat like I thought it was but it was in fact the story the game offered.
Instead of giving us a deep and meaningful story and character study, Redeemer is perfectly happy giving us a trope and cliché riddled story about zombies, mutants and super soldiers. It is just not as interesting a story as it could have been. While some may find this story interesting, I found it almost unbearably cliché in all the wrong ways. And in a game with no multi-player modes to speak of, the story is absolutely everything. The story here did not impress me.
Peace, even in the worst of times…
The sound that drives the game is good enough. The gun sounds are all solid, everything feels weighty including the punching and kicking. The sound effects are solid all the way around. The only thing I noticed about the game is there’s very little to no real musical scores in it. The main screen is oddly devoid of any music and it follows suite into the game from what I could tell. While this isn’t particularly an issue, a good music score can really bring an experience together. Sometimes it can make a game worthy of playing alone, take Halo and Nier: Automata for example. A solid musical score is so important in invoking the emotion you want in a scene, chapter or game. Redeemer should have emotional pull, that much is certain. The things you see walking through the monastery alone should invoke a deep sense of hatred and anger. But without knowing who these people are to the character, how much they mattered to the character they just feel like cannon fodder. I felt like they wanted you to feel angry about it, as evidenced by the protagonist calling his monastery brethren family. but without a real example of their meaning to him or without some emotional pull from music, there is just not much to experience there.
While Redeemer has many strong features, it has many downfalls that I could not ignore. From frame rate issues to story beat issues, Redeemer has a lot that holds it back from being a great game. I cannot help but notice either that at $29.99 on consoles, you are paying double the price of the steam version at $14.99. This is rather unfortunate as well because for double the pricing, I cannot say that I would recommend this game. Especially with its many frame rate issues throughout the game, an issue that you would not find on PC or the other consoles. Redeemer: Enhanced Edition, with all its flaws, just is not worth half the price of something like Super Mario Odyssey or Breath of the Wild, games that are degrees of magnitude larger than it and still do not have frame rate issues. Perhaps if the game had a few multi-player beat ’em up modes to offset the value, it could have recommended it. However, with nothing to distract from the main story, I am left feeling that the story writing is sub-par. with no memorable characters, bosses, stages or story beats, the game ends up feeling forgettable at best and downright cliché at worst.