Redeemer feels and plays much like a classic beat ‘em up title, harking back to a time where arcades were chock full of games focusing on punching and kicking an infinite supply of enemy underlings. Instead of opting for a traditional side-scrolling perspective, we are given a unique top-down perspective that feels more akin to Diablo than beat ‘em ups. Instead of trying to become a niche title that requires precision and practice, Redeemer feels very much like a title that anyone can jump in for a little bit and feel powerful.
As a former Russian mercenary, you give up your old life and become a solitary monk living in a Shaolin template. However, the past has caught up to you, as your former colleagues track you down, kidnapping or outright brutally killing your fellow brothers at the temple. This is where your redemption story begins, as you punch, kick, slash, and shoot everyone in your path. You can charge your attacks to increase their damage output or string together combos to inflict maximum punishment. Stealth kills can be accomplished by quietly approaching foes, but the key to victory comes from the set amount of items you can pick and wield. You are freely able to carry both a firearm and a melee weapon at the same time. From stun batons to bladed weapons, you can cut down your foes in astonishing fashion. Nothing gets beating someone's head in until it explodes. Firearms follow a military standard or small arms, machine guns, and shotguns. You’ll drop your ranged weapons once your ammunition is depleted, and melee weapons can only be used a set amount of times before breaking.
On the defensive front, you can block, just about every standard attack, however, there are those that you need to avoid. It goes without saying, that you should overuse your rolling ability when dealing with foes with guns or pointy weapons. It may also be a good idea to avoid being speared to the ground. Melee weapons can also be parried, given a small window to disarm your opponent, literally. After taking a beating, you may see a skull appear near an enemy, signifying you can brutally and spectacularly execute them. Outside of environment kills, such as impaling them on nearby tree branches, or melting their face in an open oven, you can also snap their back in two and even rip their throat out with your bare hands. While overly violent, these kills do replenish your health, and it is a necessary evil in the game as Redeemer’s difficulty is quite punishing.
As a modern take on a traditional formula, Redeemer doesn’t feature any upgradable stats, weapons or any player progression. Instead, the game focuses on player tactics and learning the best method depending upon the enemy type and location layout. With that said, I didn’t find a reason to return to the campaign once completed, outside of some collectibles that unlock artwork. There is an included wave-based arena mode, but there doesn’t seem to be any type of leadership mechanics, either local or online. I found using a gamepad, in this case, an Xbox One controller to be beneficial; however the game only allows you to rebind keyboard controls.
Redeemer is a throwback arcade-style brawler, using a top-down perspective and some satisfying combat mechanics. Whenever firearms are brought into engagements, the combat dynamic shifts. Unless you have a ranged weapon or a nearby chair to throw, you’ll be rolling around like a fool trying to avoid getting shot. Things can become quite hectic when you are outnumbered eight to one in a narrow hallway with tougher than normal foes that don’t stagger from combos.
Note: Redeemer was reviewed based on a digital PC copy of the game, provided by the publisher.