What happens when a retired killer decides to go into hiding at a Buddhist monastery, becomes a monk, and is forced out of a peaceful life in meditation by attacking mercenary forces? Sobaka’s Redeemer aims to answer that, allowing players to take control of the former mercenary in a top-down action game that’s light on content and somewhat flawed but nevertheless fun.
Developed by Sobaka / Published by Gambitious Digital Entertainment
Available on the PC.
Review code provided by Gambitious Digital Entertainment
As previously mentioned, Redeemer is about a merc named Vasily who in order to hide from his past found sanctuary in the mountains among a group of shaolin monks after crashing in a helicopter. He was quickly accepted among their ranks and became a monk himself, but is quickly forced out of retirement as a mysterious group of mercenaries attacks the monastery in search of him. With his newfound friends dead and his inner peace shattered, Vasily returns to his old ways to settle the score and find out who’s behind the attack.
Redeemer’s plot is silly, stupid fun, introducing a somewhat repentant bruiser who’s forced back into doing what he does best, which is basically murder everyone in sight. Don’t expect anything too deep or realistic here, as it’s about as comic booky as it can get, with players traveling from monasteries to underground laboratories and facing off against humans, cyborgs and mutants, but it’s a passable tale that serves nicely as a background to all the carnage that unfolds.
The gameplay is where all the fun’s at, with players stepping into the shoes of Vasily as he goes berserk and rips everything in front of him to shreds as he seeks vengeance. The experience basically boils down to players traversing stages from a top down viewpoint, working their way to the end of the stage by defeating anything their path.
As a monk, Vasily is a master in hand-to-hand combat, so players will pummel enemies with punches and kicks, and will protect themselves with a dodge roll and a standard, defensive block. The former monk will be also able to pick up a variety of degradable melee weapons to give him the edge in battle, counter enemy attacks when they briefly flash red to avoid damage and deal his own, do stealth kills or environmental kills, and use a finisher to deal tons of damage and recover some health (killing enemies also recovers health, though not as much). Melee combat is the core of Redeemer, and it feels great here with simple brawler mechanics that are easy to pick up and get into, allows players to swiftly and effectively do battle with single targets or large groups of enemies without breaking a sweat.
Vasily is also familiar with firearms too, which is great because tons of enemies are packing heat. Unlike the button mashing involved in hand-to-hand combat, players have to aim down the sights and pull the trigger to land devastating shots that will floor foes. Thankfully players are aided by a laser pointer making shots easy, but these ranged weapons run out of ammo quickly, so players have to strike a balance between both combat options if they want to survive the tons of enemies standing between them and the exit.
While gameplay is entertaining and beating up on all sorts of baddies never gets old, it gets pretty repetitive quite quickly, as pretty much every level plays and feels the same with the linear progression and constant battles against waves of enemies. Then there’s also a few difficulty spikes in the game, as while initial levels feature straightforward melee attackers and gun-toting baddies, soon enough players will also encounter monsters that their flashing attacks can’t be countered (which is confusing because the game tells you flashing attacks can be countered), enemies that fling goo and cause Vasily to be unable to attack for various seconds and more, making the game harder, occasionally cheap and very frustrating as these creatures swarm you, making combat a tedious chore. It doesn’t always happen, but the game features a few sections that are very maddening and might have you wanting to fling your controller in disgust.
The game also features the occasional boss battle to break up the straightforward gameplay, pitting Vasily against strong foes that can easily crush him. Here players have to hit and run in order to succeed, and while these encounters aren’t all that great, it’s a welcome challenge.
In addition to the main campaign, the game features an Arena Mode that lets players maul enemies without worrying about navigating through stages, a glossary with some backstory for the game that players can check out, as well as art from the game in the form of collectable scrolls hidden in the main campaign. There’s not much to do outside of the campaign, and no reason to replay it after you’re done, unless you want to tackle harder difficulty levels.
Overall, Redeemer is a solid but flawed beat-em-up, offering a original and fun character to play as and satisfying combat, but not much else. While beating enemies to a pulp is entertaining, the repetitive gameplay, difficulty spikes and a lack of things to do keep this indie game from being better than it should be. Still, if you like the sound of killer monks and tons of mayhem, you might want to check it out.