I sit here, looking at this spoonful of plain oatmeal called Redeemer: Enhanced Edition, struggling to determine exactly what makes it so difficult to talk about. On the surface, it accomplishes what its genre demands, yet labeling it anything more than a decent game would be somewhat disingenuous. I would call it bog-standard, but even that fails to paint the picture of mundanity that the game provides.
As a top-down action game, diversification is always going to be a difficult thing to accomplish without a unique gimmick. Unfortunately, Redeemer doesn’t really have anything to help it stand out. This lack of a new mechanic to truly define Redeemer is in large part what makes it so dry – or wet, given how gory the game is.
Progressing through a level-based structure, you’ll punch, kick and shoot your way through hordes of enemies. Stealth and the environment can be used to instantly kill an enemy, so some degree of strategy allows you to clear rooms more effectively — although the bulk of your time will be spent in active combat. The melee system includes punches and kicks that can be alternated to create different combos, and upgrades are made available as you play. As is tradition, some of the options are blatantly better than others, and the charge attacks are an easy way to cheese all but the strongest enemy types. The different options are nice, but I never found mixing up combos to produce better results than throwing a few punches and waiting for a counter attack. With how hectic the game can get in later levels, doing a multi-hit combo isn’t very practical either, as rolling and counter attacks become mandatory. The flow of combat unfortunately becomes more stifled as time goes on, with the exception of one-on-one boss fights.
There’s a decent amount of combat options outside of the basic punches and kicks, which include both melee and ranged weapons. The melee weapons are powerful, but have durability that will be chipped away with every hit until they break. The ranged weapons are a lot more enjoyable, and it’s disappointing that they’re such short-lived due to them having very low ammunition. The shotgun, in particular, is a joy to use, as it has a suitable punch that feels satisfying and gels with the game’s blood-soaked aesthetic.
As you use various weapons, you’ll fill up bars in different categories that will allow you to choose additional perks. They can include new attacks, lengthier combos, or special properties. There are a handful of more interesting options, such as being able to add a silencer, which allows you to use firearms without forgoing stealth. Certain weapons, like the shotgun and carbine, can be upgraded to have bullet penetration, and the pistol can be equipped with a chance to instantly kill enemies.
New levels steadily introduce additional enemy types, ranging from soldiers to different monsters. The game is at its best when it properly mixes these enemies together in a hectic but calculated manner. Small mutants are easily killed but they appear in massive hordes. Larger variants have special properties such as armor, poison and ranged attacks. Not all enemy types are friendly to each other, and can further add to the chaos when rival factions are thrown into the same room.
Outside of a few bugs that forced reverting to the last checkpoint, Redeemer works as it should most of the time. With that said, later levels drastically increase the enemy count, and the game can chug during these moments. Nothing is game breaking, but it isn’t optimized as well as it could be. The inclusion of co-op is seldom a negative feature, and Redeemer is no exception to the rule. Yet this addition fails to offer new elements or strategies that would elevate the existing experience. Ultimately, that’s where the game’s issues stem from: more stuff without the foundation to make it interesting.
On paper, there’s a lot to like in Redeemer: melee combos, counter attacks, various weapons, environmental interaction, stealth kills, fun gore, and co-op. In practice, however, there’s little to get excited about. Redeemer – enhanced or not – feels painfully uninspired. All of its mechanics work, yet they do very little to enthuse. It’s the epitome of a game with few glaring issues but similarly no high points to prop it up. If, for whatever reason, you’re starved for top-down action games, it’s worth looking into. For the rest of us, it’s very much a “been there, done that” affair.