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Redout: Space Assault Review

Redout: Space Assault Review 2021

In 2016, 34BigThings released a Wipeout-inspired high-speed arcade racer called Redout. Now, in 2021, that same studio, has released Redout: Space Assault. Make no mistake, while they are in the same universe, Redout: Space Assault is an arcade rail shooter that shares more similarities to Star Fox than its predecessor. Both games may be different from a gameplay sense, but one thing is clear. 34BigThings, now a part of the Saber Interactive family, intended on carving out a niche that many developers left behind. The once glorious, science fiction arcade genre. And though it's not an entirely polished experience, Redout: Space Assault is a great taste of the chaos, color, and combat of those games that were so popular back in the 90s. Now, usually in my reviews, I stick to a certain format but for this one, I want to go a bit more abstract. I want to explain my thoughts on Redout: Space Assault, how they changed over its roughly nine-hour playtime, and how its mechanics work, all without an outline.

Originally released on iOS devices via Apple Arcade, Redout: Space Assult tells the story of Leon, a pilot working to rid the galaxy of rebel scum under the Posiden Security Force. Yes, he is essentially a pawn for the Redout universe equivalent of the Empire. The story in Space Assault does take some twists and turns but at the end of the day, it remains pretty unremarkable. I was rarely invested in any of the characters and never found myself anxious about what would happen next. But this lack of a compelling narrative doesn't really take away from the game because at the heart of a game like this is the gameplay. The story is simply a means to an end to give players different reasons to engage in space combat and fly around in a sizeable asteroid debris field to search for resources.

It's a good thing then that despite the fact that I am not an avid player of on-rail shooters, I found the gameplay in Space Assault really fun at the start. The levels had vibrant skyboxes (though I suppose they would be called galaxy boxes in this context) and every bullet and laser fired popped with color. And even more impressive is the fact that despite all that chaos, and it does get chaotic, the game runs super smooth and I never experienced any frame drops. It should be noted that while I was given a PlayStation 4 code for the game, I played it via backward compatibility on the PlayStation 5.

Redout: Space Assault PlayStation 4 Review

A majority of the levels are spent shooting oncoming waves of drones and fighters flying in formation while barrel-rolling out of the way of their shots. But there are also levels that will require you to perform reconnaissance in an area or simply collect some tokens and blueprints. Each level in the game has the main objective that's required to progress and two other optional objectives that net you more in-game currency that can be spent to upgrade your ship. You can also increase your currency by discarding cards, which act as ship modifiers, at the end of each level. At the end of each level for the first few chapters, I had to make a choice of wheater I wanted to replace the card I currently had equipped with the new ones I just received. However, halfway into the game, thanks to the RNG Gods, I was able to pull a Legendary Card that suited my playstyle perfectly. After that point, I rarely gave any other cards a second glance.

That being said, I have to say that despite the fact that I enjoyed my time with Redout: Space Assault, I would be lying if I said I wasn't frustrated with the game at times. For one, I never felt truly in control of the game as I played. Except for the reconnaissance missions, which give you full flight control, most of the missions push you forward automatically, and when on autofire mode all you're really doing are aiming the shots and clicking buttons to provide additional firepower. The answer may be to take manual control over your weapons, but the chaos that unfolds on screen paired with a seemingly imprecise reticle makes it even more frustrating in the end if you chose that option.

Then there are the bugs. During my time completing the campaign, I ran across two different types of bugs. The first resulted in some of the bosses that appear at the end of each chapter getting stuck on some geometry on the map. The first time this happened I didn't complain too much because, honestly speaking, I was still getting the hang of the game's controls and it made the boss an easier target to hit. But in later chapters, it grew frustrating to try to navigate a map while also trying to accommodate for the fact that the boss was bugged and heading straight into an asteroid. The second occurred at the end of levels. Normally, after completing a level your ship blasts off into space in a short little animation that then kicks you back to the menu to reap the rewards of your run. However, on occasion the animation will kick into slow motion, prolonging the time wait by three or four times the original length. It wasn't an awfully long time and luckily this bug did not resurface nearly as much as the first. As a fun fact, the first time I experienced both of these bugs was on stream while one of the developers was in chat and I want to thank that developer for not only stopping by but for hanging out with us as we played and also answering some of the team's questions.

Although performance is great on consoles, it's hard to ignore the fact that Space Assault was originally designed for mobile devices. The menu buttons are big and bulky, very clearly designed to be easily tapped, and the short levels encourage bursts of play, like when you play a game on the go, rather than an hour or two of non-stop play, as is common on home consoles. Redout: Space Assault may feel more at home on the Nintendo Switch, the median between mobile and home gaming, but playing on the PlayStation 5, and paired with my aforementioned frustrations, I found the time between each level a hurdle to push past as I debated if I should keep playing.

Redout: Space Assault Xbox One Review

There's also something I want to address in terms of comparisons. Being released in January 2021, Redout: Space Assault will inevitably be compared to Everspace 2 which is currently in Early Access on Steam. The unfortunate truth is that Everspace 2 on paper is a better game featuring better controls, more realistic graphics, a story developed with cutscenes, and more. However, in my opinion, not only is a comparison unfair it's also unwarranted. Space Assault is an on-rail space shooter made primarily for mobile devices whereas Everspace 2 is essentially a deeper space RPG that thrives on the mid-to-high end PCs. Other than their setting, they don't share a lot of similarities.

The last thing I want to touch on is the game's Trophies. Of all the games I've trophy hunted for, Space Assault has a rather peculiar Trophy list. In most games, Trophies attached to completing the first few levels of the campaign are usually Bronze and the ones awarded for completing the last few missions are Silver or Gold. In Space Assault, the Trophies for completing the first five chapters of the game are all Gold while the last four are Bronze. This reversal of Trophy rarity means that if you are chasing completion percentages more so than Platinums, you can get a pretty high completion percentage just for finishing the first five levels. If you are chasing the Platinum, however, you will have to complete all the optional objectives for every level.  The rest of the Trophies are pretty manageable and most pop as you finish the game.

To wrap it up, Redout: Space Assault is a decent on-rail space shooter. For players who miss the genre, this game will provide a good few hours of entertainment. Its story might not be all too intriguing but its gameplay and flashy colors will make up for it. However, for the average player who has no sweet spot for this genre, Space Assault will be a mostly forgettable experience that can't seem to escape the bounds of its original mobile limitations. Redout: Space Assault is out now on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC. A review code for the PlayStation 4 was provided by the publisher.

Redout: Space Assault | 5 | Mediocre

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