By Ferry "Sadhonker" Adams on August 4, 2017
1998. You, Vasiliy, a high-level secret operative for one of the world's largest cybernetics companies, are the best there is in your field and are usually tasked with the most dangerous missions. Your lack of compassion and expertise in hand-to-hand combat, firearms, stealth and torture makes you the perfect tool to do the company's dirty work. However, there is one flaw in your character that still hinders the company you work for; you are still human, with your own thoughts and ideas. To solve this "problem", the company decides to turn you into one of their cybernetic soldiers, making you much more malleable and easier to control.
You manage to escape the clutches of your former employer and make your retreat to a secluded monastery, high up in the mountains and enshrouded by giant forests. For twenty years, you live alongside the monks that inhabit the monastery and try to be one of them. But, alas, as is so often the case, your past keeps haunting you. At first, only in your thoughts and dreams, but now, the company has managed to pin-point your location and launches a full-scale attack on the monastery. It is time to set things right and to put the demons of your past to bed once and for all. This might be your one and only shot for redemption...
So, is anyone of you up for a bit of ass-kicking, limb-smashing and neck-breaking brawler fun? Well, if so, then this is your lucky day, because we got our hands on Redeemer, the brand new game, developed Russian independent developer, Sobaka Studio and published by Gambitious Digital Entertainment. It is the first major project Sobaka Studio has created, so let's have a look what they have to offer, shall we?
Redeemer is a top-down action/brawler game that takes a no holds barred approach to the genre. After an awesome looking intro, that put me in mind of the style of a high-end comic book, the likes of which would make Marvel and DC proud, we are thrown right into the action. We, as Vasiliy, pick up where the introduction left off. After walking just a few meters, we get to make our first kill. The first few enemies serve as kind of a tutorial, so we can get the hang of the controls and the game's core mechanics. Vasily has a couple of moves at his disposal, which can be strung together to, as the developer states it: "create a ballet of death".
Your basic move is your punch, which you will use very often in this game, believe you me! Then, there is the ever-useful dodge roll, out from which you can even attack this time! Of course, Vasily can block, another very useful move, because timing this move right will enable you to parry the incoming attack and do a little damage yourself. A red skull appears above stunned or vulnerable enemies, signifying that you are now able to use a contextual and decisively fatal attack on them. Of course, using only your fists will only get you that far, but we're in luck! You see, defeated enemies will drop their weapons, which you can subsequently pick up.
These weapons fall into two categories: melee weapons and firearms. Melee weapons will be damaged as you use them en will eventually break. Firearms do not break but, as is to be expected, run out of ammo sooner or later. Lucky for us, the state of your melee weapon, as well as the rounds left in your current firearm are denoted by two meters at the bottom left of your screen. Only one bullet left and about to enter a room filled with bad guys? Better backtrack a bit and swap out your firearm. Same goes for any melee weapon; don't wait until the last minute to pick up a new one, or you will be forced to use your fists against a small army of heavily armed men which, in my experience, is never a good idea! How do I know that? Well, that's classified. I could tell you, but then I'd have to kill you, so let's just move on!
Another very cool feature of Redeemer are the environmental attacks. These, again, are triggered when an enemy is in the right spot, which is usually right next to something really pointy or something really hot, and a red skull will appear above his head. By pressing the contextual attack button, you grab the unlucky bastard and impale his ass on the "something very pointy" or even melt his face off and burn him to a crisp in the "something really hot". These attacks are a one-hit-kill and are extremely useful for quickly thinning out groups of enemies. Another form of environmental attack, albeit a slightly less fatal one, involves chairs, barrels and crates you find throughout the levels. These items can be picked up and flung at your opponents, damaging them in the process.
If you want to use a different approach, why not try using stealth. As Vasily has been trained as a secret operative, he knows how to get around silently, launching into a sneaky surprise attack, taking out his targets in one go. This is where the "look ahead" mechanic of the game comes in very handy. Because Vasily is always aware of his surroundings, little indicators around the edge of the screen reveal the location and even orientation, or field of view if you will, of enemies patrolling nearby. Apart from that, you can also, by using a simple button combination, shift the camera in any direction for a set distance and see what's going on over there. This lets you plan your strategy more careful and take out as many enemies as you possibly can without being attacked by five or six of them at the same time.
Contextual finishers and silent kills are also the way to go if you want to replenish your health. When you fight your enemies, you will get hit. This will cost you an amount of your health per hit, which is to be expected, of course. When your health drops below a certain amount, the color starts draining from the screen and the sound slows down and drops in pitch. Just like a walkman that is low battery power. Now I know that the younger people amongst you will have no idea what I'm talking about, but I can't come up with a better analogy using modern audio equipment. Just ask your parents what a walkman is, I'm sure they'll explain it to you! Point is, if you want to get your health back up, you will have to do so by killing enemies. Exactly, no health packs in sight in Redeemer; just take out some more enemies and you'll be fine! If you use finishers or stealth kills, that is. See, these awesome attacks refill a portion of your health, so make sure to use them if you get the chance. Apart from being useful, these attacks are also very cool to watch, so that's two for the price of one!
But wait, the fun does not stop there. Vasily can also use two additional moves, if he feels like it. First up, there's the "disarm" move which, as you may have guessed, is pretty self-explanatory. It enables you to swipe an enemy's firearm right from his hands and use it against him. Pretty cool, right? Thsi brings me to one of my favorite moves of all times: the "dismemberment" attack! Yes, sportsfans, yo' heard me correctly. Redeemer, the awesome game that it is, even lets you rip the limbs off of an enemy and use them as a weapon. And I just love to give my enemies a hand... or a leg!
Visually, Redeemer looks really, really good! The top down perspective tends to be a bit underappreciated in some cases, but it I personally love it and it works like a charm in this game. The environments, as well as the characters, are well-built and extremely rich in detail. By varying the lighting in the levels, you get a real sense of the grandeur of the environments. Be it in broad daylight, battling your way through groups of enemies on the courtyards of the monastery, or be it in the half-dark of the monastery's cellars, Redeemer looks nothing less than magnificent! IT's soundtrack is also worth mentioning, because it amplifies the intensity of the battles you will have to fight your way through. Redeemer's control scheme is easy to learn and expansive enough that it enables you to fight gracefully and use every tool at your disposal in order to set things right once and for all.
Truly, I can only say that I absolutely love playing this game. Redeemer is a very, very, VERY cool action brawler game that has one hell of a back story, awesome graphics and sounds and kick ass fighting mechanics, all rolled into one delicious, blood-soaked and bone-crunching treat! If you are, in any way, a fan of top down action games, make sure you play Redeemer. Believe me, if you don't, you will never forgive yourself!