For any who were a fan of the Road Rash games, this is a modern interpretation on the havoc of those games. There are missteps here and there, but it still offers fun gameplay.
Type: Single-Player, Coop
Genres: Racing, Rogue-Lite
Developer: EQ-Games, Pixel Dash Studios
Publisher: Tripwire Interactive
Release date: 7 October, 2019
The title slightly threw me when I first saw Road Redemption (RR), because to me it was a Road Rash game. However, the reason for the slight name change is because this isn’t a proper sequel or game of that franchise, but is instead a modern interpretation by fans of those games. Although the game has its flaws, and may never quite live up to nostalgic reminiscing, RR plays and feels much like the Road Rash I remember.
RR is a motorcycle racing game, with a strong emphasis on combat and mayhem. Sure, it’s important to win races, but I always played these games for the carnage. The way this is made possible, is that the enemy AI rubber bands around your racer, keeping you mired in a motorcycle mosh pit. Give everybody weapons such as wrenches, swords, and shovels, and you’ve got all the ingredients necessary for a destructive teen’s wet dream version of Mario Kart. Having originally tried this with 2 other people, I was dismayed because the enemies kept pulling ahead instead of lining up beside us so we could fight. However, it worked just fine when I played it on my own, so it seems as if it breaks down in coop play.
While playing RR’s Campaign Modes, of which there are a + and ++ version, you’ll earn money to spend on upgrades that only applies to each run, such as health or turbo restores. After you either fail or beat the campaign, you’ll be able to spend your XP on permanent upgrades, like increased defense or money gains. Another feature that I enjoyed compared to older Road Rash games was the inclusion of firearms and explosives. It gives more options to deal with all your opponents, who can overwhelm you simply because you’re outnumbered. A few enemies brandish guns themselves, and place timed bombs on the track, but they’re not overly abundant.
The controls and racing mechanics feel very smooth. Being able to turn tightly without having to brake, just making a slight dip in your speed, lets you race both more optimally and recklessly. Using the ‘D-pad’ to swap between weapons can be tricky at times, but it’s still functional. Putting on a boost of turbo is as simple as hitting the gas button twice, and using the jet boosters to bunny hop is easy as well. One mechanic that seemed poorly optimized was grabbing enemy racers, as it requires you to hit the ‘R bumper,’ when you need to hold the ‘R trigger’ to keep accelerating. That forced me to switch to my middle finger to accelerate, just to use a move that only seems to work on early area enemies.
I think the title for RR could have been better, as there isn’t any redemption, and revenge seemed to be a stronger theme. Additionally, though there’s some story elements in RR, there’s no background on who you are, the gang you’re in, or what’s going on between the different gangs. What do they do besides race around and bash the heck out of each other? Considering how small they are, I’d imagine there’s more than enough highways available for all of them. With so little information, I have no interest in helping my crew or wiping out the others, which makes having to listen to all the chatter from the gang leaders obnoxious. Since there are different characters available to play as, I’d have liked to see something like the Twisted Metal games implemented here, as all of their characters have distinct stories and motivation.
I saw nothing wrong with the graphics, though they’re also not that impressive. They’re composed of 3D models, with the vehicles and weapons looking just fine. Aside from different race tracks and some roadside obstacles, there’s not a lot of variety or objects to look at. One thing that stood out is the NPC cloning for the enemies you encounter. Might have been nice to increase the amount of models, but it’s by no means a big negative.
Unsurprisingly, the music for this game is centered around rock and roll tunes, which helps fuel the aggressive playstyle you’ll want to use. From what I can tell, the developers used licensed music, instead of composing unique tracks for the game itself. I base that off of the disclaimer placed on the opening screen, saying anyone can monetize footage of the game, but the music should be lowered as it might disrupt that. Though the music isn’t bad, in some ways I enjoy the grunts and sounds of crashing more. They’re just so satisfying.
- The normal campaign includes random elements, despite each stage playing in a preset order, such as whether the objective of the stage will be to place 3rd or higher, defeat a certain number of foes, or merely survive to the end. The other 2 versions have randomized stage orders and increased difficulty.
- A large update came out November 2019, where they released DLC and added a new campaign mode.
- You unlock new characters and features from beating the campaign multiple times, but since they’re gimmick characters who sometimes make the game harder, I don’t have much interest in playing as all of them. I want to unlock stronger characters, not weaker ones.
- Since the upgrades you can purchase between stages is randomized, you may not have enough money available to get the extra life when it spawns in.
- Comparing the stats of the different motorcycles is harder than it should be, because there’s no numeric scale or color-coding on the bars.
- Wiping out other enemies partially refills your turbo meter, and gives experience and money. It gives you a reason to play aggressively, instead of hanging back or dodging away from enemies.
- Although the quality of short-cuts varies, you’ll want to keep your eyes out for indicators of them on the side of the road, as not taking them can lead to you losing the race.
- During the enemy takedown stages, the hardest part can be keeping up with them consistently. Sometimes you’ll be too far ahead of them and have to wait.
In some ways, I feel like I’m going back and replaying a game I enjoyed immensely when I was younger, but since there aren’t many stages to play through in the campaign, the difficulty increases quickly. That means I can’t simply chill and cause carnage, because if I want to succeed, I have to play intelligently and put more effort into it. This is especially pronounced with the quirky characters who have significant handicaps. It bums me out that the only other game mode emphasizes winning races, when I want to focus on madcap action without the pressure or commitment of a campaign. I would have thought fans of the original would have put in a game mode centered around the combat just for the sake of it. Since I’m not interested in replaying the same campaign repeatedly with handicapped characters, I only see myself sporadically returning to RR. For that reason I recommend it, though only if on sale, as you’ll likely lose interest in it sooner rather than later.