My passion for indie games really does grow stronger when the game I review is the work of a solo dev. Game development isn’t an easy thing to do, doing so as a small indie team increase that difficulty, taking on the job of creating a game on your own is an immense amount of work. From solo developer, Robson Paiva and publisher by Top Hat Studios comes a new Metroidvania called REDO!
“REDO! is a game about a girl trying to find another human in a dystopian world overrun by biomachines. It’s a lonely and evocative game about exploring the unknown and overcoming obstacles to see what is left. In the world of REDO!, there is no hope for those left behind. You’ll need to face your own limitation as a human being and also face the consequences of the mistakes of humanity.”
That blurb up there sums up the game perfectly. REDO! is a bleak and rather glum title about a human fighting bio-machines in the vain hope of finding another human. Straight off the bat, this game is punishingly hard as your human character is vastly underpowered against the far stronger bio-machines that you will face. Aside from a roll/dodge move, you are quite clunky and (at first) are armed only with a pickaxe for close combat… and getting close to the various enemies in the game is a bad thing to do.
Throw into the mix the fact that there is no map or navigational help to guide you at all, save some signposts that tell you where you are, but not where you need to be. There are no stats to increase, no skills to learn to help even the odds either. You do find various weapons that can be equipped three at a time… and they all use the same ammo pool. Different weapons use different amounts of ammo. The rocket launcher uses three ammo and the shield uses one ammo… yes, the shield uses ammo. As all of the weapons use the same ammo pool, you really have to be careful what you use and when. You can’t just spam every enemy with the rocket launcher as you’ll be out of ammo before you know it, and that is going to land you in serious trouble.
And if that doesn’t sound difficult enough for you then save points (which are often placed with infrequency and massive areas of tough enemies to beat between them) respawn all enemies when you save. REDO! is really fucking hard, is the point I am trying to make. Sometimes punishingly so too. I hated this game, I kept getting lost and with no clues as to where I needed to go, the frustration kicked in. I’d find a new weapon, a HP increase (rare and very much needed) or an ammo limit increase (also very rare and much needed) and die trying to make it back to a save point, meaning I just lost whatever I picked up. I was close to pulling my hair out and as a man very soon turning 46, I already have receding hair to worry about. I really wanted to start this review right there and then, ready to tear into this game and lambast it for how stupidly difficult it is. But something changed.
I stopped playing REDO! as a typical Metroidvania game, running around, trying to kill all enemies that I saw and so on. I slowed down, I thought before I attacked, I picked my targets carefully and I began to make the decision to fight or flee. You don’t earn XP here, there are no stats to increase, so risking your life to fight a powerful enemy is (mostly) pointless. I began to strategise and to think first. Suddenly, REDO! became a joy to play. Still fucking hard mind you, but a lot more fun. Enemies have two energy bars or counters in this case. One for their HP and another for their stamina. Every time they attack, they use stamina and when that stamina is gone, they become stunned and open for attack. So you can dodge and avoid them until they are out of stamina and then attack. Defeat them when they are stunned and you get health pick-ups. REDO! is less about all-out action and more about strategy.
Getting past those early frustrations that this game throws at you is key. Learning the enemies and what weapon to use when makes the game far more enjoyable. You can’t just run around here and attack everything that moves, you do have to stop and think and you do have to plan before you attack (or decide to run away). Then, once you get your head around the specific nature of how REDO! has been designed, it becomes a much more enjoyable experience.
In terms of the visuals, REDO! looks and feels very 16-bit. The dark and moody backdrops really hit home that you are in this desolate world overrun by the bio-machines and there is a sense of dread and loss as you explore each area. A lot of browns, greys and blacks fill the palette and help visually describe the world that you are in as being a bit apocalyptic. The world of REDO! is grim for sure.
Coming in at around £8 (depending on format), REDO! offers you a tough, very tough but interesting take on the Metroidvania sub-genre. This game won’t be for everyone and its punishing difficulty will piss a lot of people off before they even learn how to play the game properly. Still, if you have the patience and a cool head to help you get past those early exacerbations, REDO! is bloody great. If you are really good and get to grips with the difficulty relatively quickly then you will probably get 5 hours out of this before you see the end credits. Add a bit longer if you want to explore the map and get all of the upgrades. There’s also a game+ mode that ups the difficulty more by remixing the map a bit and throwing in respawning bosses. Honestly, it really made me feel like I was playing the game for the first time again… which is good as it offers you some great replayability.
If you feel like a game that will push your patience, nauseate your nerves and yet feel wonderfully satisfying when you do succeed, then REDO! is the game for you. The fact that this was the work of a solo dev just makes me love it a little bit more too.