Estimated reading time: 5 minutes
Redout: Space Assault is a pretty standard on-rails sci-fi shooter that does a nice job of creating a sense of speed and space, but struggles with its lack of depth and execution holds this title back. In the end, it’s still an enjoyable enough experience, but one that struggles to set itself apart from similar titles in the genre.
For me, all of this is a little bit disappointing. Not because Redout: Space Assault is bad, but having been a huge fan of the F-Zero-like Redout racing game on PC (especially in VR, where I was really sucked into the experience), I came into Redout: Space Assault with some pretty high hopes. I will say right out of the gates that one thing this title has going for it is a decent sense of speed. It’s much easier to create that in a racing game, because you have numerous fixed objects in the landscape to go whipping by. In space, with its vast, nebulous openness, that can be harder to create that same effect. 34BigThings does a commendable job in leveraging light effects, having just enough large, stationary things in space to serve a similar purpose, and Redout: Space Assault is better for it.
As for the gameplay itself, Redout: Space Assault is something of a strange beast. The control scheme is not the most intuitive. There are some options like barrel rolling to avoid missiles, and a reliance on semi-homing missiles of your own to attack, but it took awhile for the actual flight to feel fairly natural to me for whatever reason. I did appreciate the ability to rebind buttons to a configuration that suited me betting than the default one. In the more open regions of space it wasn’t a big deal, but my clumsiness with the controls reared its head when dealing with some of the tighter space flying as I banged around into things.
Everything is handled in a behind-the-ship, 3rd person view that reminds of the Star Fox series, without the colorful cast of characters or interesting storyline. There’s a campaign here, and it’s actually got a bit of length to it, but the gameplay does not really evolve a whole lot along the way, leading to a sort of sameness throughout the chapters.
One thing I was appreciative of were the lightweight RPG elements. You can earn money while playing through the stages, that can be spent to upgrade one of a handful of different areas such as hull damage resistance or missile effectiveness. It’s a nice dangling carrot that kept me churning through the stages, even if the actual upgrades did not often feel overly effective at times. Another nice carrot dangled in front of you while playing are a few objectives to each stage. One is required and gives a decent money bonus, the other two are options (like kill X percentage of enemy units or complete the stage in a specific amount of time).
In terms of the visuals and overall presentation, this is not a AAA game, but at least it is priced appropriately. This is a port of a mobile game, and it doesn’t really make the most of the console horsepower. Think of it as a budget Star Fox, if you will. The sound effects and music all fit the theme of the game, even if they’re not terribly memorable. The visuals generally look nice, though the use of light, blur and movement that helps to create a sense of speed is probably the highpoint here.
There are some rough patches that I’m sure will be patched soon, but weapons firing is odd as it only occurs automatically when you’re within range of the enemy. I kept thinking I was doing something wrong, only being able to fire my missiles, but I think it’s meant to better balance close and long ranged combat. There is a menu option to turn this off, which I would think then makes it a manual firing process but… so far as I could tell, it didn’t do anything when I toggled the option.
I also ran into a glitch twice in the first collection of levels, where you are flying at a massive cruiser and then the scene just sort of ‘stuck’. My ship would get smaller and smaller, like it was flying forward, but the camera quit following it. Eventually something unseen to me (because they were all flying pinpoints by this time) would kill me, and my ship would bounce right back to where my camera was at. Again, the camera remained stuck and my ship would inevitably get wrecked. I reset the level and tried it again, and ran into the exact same thing. I gave it a third and final try, and this time I was able to progress. This was the only time I ran into an issue like this with the camera, so it is not a huge knock for me on the game, but the rough edges do pop up now and again.