Only The Rashest Roads Need To Apply
Originally released for the PC in 2017, Road Redemption was the byproduct of wanting something done and doing it yourself. Originally pitched by creator Ian Fisch, the motivation to create such a title, dates as far back as a blog post in 2009. One man's passion for one of his favorite childhood games led him to develop his own homage. Followed by a successful Kickstarter, Road Redemption was released with the same concept as Road Rash. Players had to get from Point A to Point B, fulfilling objectives, and causing as much chaos as possible along the way.
Road Redemption was released digitally on the PS4, Xbox One, and Switch the following year in 2018. The Switch version was originally intended for the Wii U, but due to the console phasing out, development priorities, well, Switched. A physical release was originally announced in 2020 but that would also be delayed. April 2022 finally saw the release of one of Road Redemption's physical releases on the PS4. An Xbox One and Switch release are slated for this year. With a physical release now available for the PS4, how does it hold up on consoles?
Channel Your Inner Road Rage
As always, we begin our first impressions by highlighting a game's story. What's Road Redemption's story? There's a 15 million dollar bounty on someone's head. Everyone's living in a Mad Max-era America and every biker gang across America is chasing after the bounty. You belong in one of these gangs known as the Jackals and it's every team for themselves. Players start in the desert where they are in direct competition with a rival biker gang. Once the leader is taken care of, they move on to the next location and repeat until they reach the bounty.
From someone who is a superfan of Road Rash, Fisch's Road Redemption is the greatest homage one can stand and deliver. While it's not the first game to feature weapons on bikes, it's one of the few that feels authentic to the source material. Riders lash out in various swears almost as rough as the lead pipes they bash each other with. There are a total of three standard melee weapons, a sword, and blunt weapons that come in light and heavy varieties.
Road Redemption Is Half "Road Rash," Half "Roguelike"
Each weapon has its pros and cons, for example, sword weapons are useless against riders wearing helmets. They are effective against shields and can instantly kill exposed riders, decapitating them, and offering double the rewards. The most used weapons will be the light and heavy blunt weapons. Light weapons deal less damage but are faster than heavy weapons, making them the safer option to take out opponents. The heavy weapons are best used for tanky enemies as well as trucks and cars. There are better ways to take out four-wheeled vehicles. Occasionally the player will pick up ranged weapons and explosives, something entirely different from Road Rash.
These range from shotguns, which are effective at close range yet harder to aim, and rifles which are easier to spray but deal less damage. Explosives range from C4 that automatically detonate when stuck on a surface and pipe bombs that can be dropped behind the player. The enemies also have access to these weapons as well, making weaving through traffic dangerous. The player will also need to decide whether it's safe to duel others for resources like health and nitro. If the player comes out of a scrap injured, then it may backfire. That's because this game is secretly a roguelike.
"One Life To Live," Isn't Just A Tagline
Players literally only have one life in Road Redemption and if their health goes to zero, it's game over. Any progress made is reset and they have to start from the beginning again. This is nothing new as games like One Step From Eden follow this exact formula. Each region is randomly generated with different enemies and objectives. These objectives range from racing, eliminating other bikers, time trials, and surviving an enemy ambush. At the end of each region lies a regional boss, where simply defeating them moves the player to the next area.
These areas are unique, from the rooftops of an abandoned city to the treacherous snowy mountains. After each run, any XP earned is redeemed, including checkpoints that the player can "start" in. This ensures that not all progress is lost to the player. Everything up to this point was discussed with the PS4 version in mind. The PC version, as to be expected, is radically different from the console version not just in graphics. There's cut content from the PS4 that is included as DLC, known as the "Revengers Assemble" pack.
Time To Address The PCMR Of The Room
"PC Master Race" isn't just a catchphrase for PC enthusiasts, it's personified as one of the PC version's bonus characters. Meet PC Master Racer, a rider that scales with your graphic settings. The higher your graphic settings, the stronger he gets. The higher the resolution, the faster the nitrous gain becomes. If your FPS dips below 60, you take continuous damage until you get back above 60. There's a built-in benchmark mode that's as obnoxious as it sounds and it's great. As amazing as the tongue-in-cheek joke is, it doesn't stop there. The DLC is titled "Revengers, Assemble." Meet "Admiral Uganda" and "Theranos."
As the name suggests, "Admiral Uganda" attacks with a shield but has a strict "no guns" policy. "Theranos," who looks like if Tekken's Nina Williams had the Infinity Gauntlet, has the ability to wipe half of the entire racing grid. This only has an effect on other bikers, so cars and vehicles are immune. Nothing is more satisfying in this game to see the player go from "12th" place to "6th," simply from snapping their fingers. The biggest drawback is that there's a 50/50 chance that the player wipes themselves from existence. That's right, the gauntlet works both ways. The fewer enemies there are, the higher the chance of getting wiped. It actually happened to me and it was right at the game's Region boss.
"I Am Inevitable"
Despite Road Redemption having a physical console release, the best experience is on the PC for the cut content alone. I tried looking for any DLC for the PS4 version and none existed. I believe this DLC is PC only, which is understandable because a certain mouse would have a field day with the developers. Regardless of what platform you play it on, Road Redemption is a fun way to kill time. Despite its many physics-based glitches, there's a lot to enjoy with each playthrough.
Cameo characters including Shovel Knight and DJ Scully from Killing Floor make their appearance. The blatant references to actual bikes are also humorous. There's a lot of crude humor and violence, which honestly if you purchased this game is what you'd expect. It's mindless fun with a dash of skill needed to make it to the end.
Road Redemption is available on PC, PS4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch.