Being a gamer in my mid 30’s, I have watched as the world of gaming has evolved over the years. I have memories of playing Super Mario Bros, The Legend of Zelda as well as Mega Man 2 on the NES. Gaming became more of an obsession though in Christmas of 1991 when my single mom got my older brother and I a brand new Super Nintendo. The world of gaming truly opened up for us as we would come home from school and all we wanted to do was play Super Street Fighter and Super Mario World. Of course, those of us that are older will never forget the console wars of that time with SNES vs Sega Genesis. There were great experiences on both consoles that would make each other’s fanbase silently jealous. One of those experiences was the game, Road Rash.
Road Rash was unlike any game I had ever played up till that point. It was cool as hell to be driving down the street on a fast motorcycle and beating up the guy next to you. Perhaps you would get lucky and come across someone with a baseball bat or a chain! You could steal it and become the master of the street, that is until you would be bombarded by OTHER guys with their baseball bats and you would ultimately meet your demise. Now throughout the years, we would see Road Rash games, that is until 2000’s Roadhouse: Jailbreak. So there has been no game quite the same to satiate our thirst for that type of game. Some have tried, but ultimately couldn’t quite do it.
In 2013, Pixeldash Studios and EQ Games saw this gap in time of no releases and took to Kickstarter to make a self-proclaimed “spiritual successor” to Road Rash. After a successful campaign, we would see the release of Road Redemption, an all and all fantastic fix for the motorcycle combat game that we haven’t seen in almost 19 years.
Road Redemption is unique as it does incorporate the Road Rash formula with Rogue-like components, sounds weird I know, but they really make it work. Each time you play the game, everything is randomly generated. From the track to the layout of weapons, to the type of levels you will play. The single-player mode sees that when you die, you may use all your acquired EXP to buy permanent upgrades, but that is the only thing that will carry over from game to game. The story itself is pretty simple, and there isn’t much of it. By ALL means, this is not a bad thing. The game doesn’t need any kind of deep intriguing story to be good. I want to just get into the action and kick people off of bridges!
As far as the gameplay itself is concerned, it is a TON of fun. As I stated, everything is randomly generated, so you never know what you are going to get. Each level can be a different set of objectives such as beating up every one of the rival gang before you get to the end of the level, to even a standard race. What I love is that it is not necessarily imperative that you fulfil the objectives they ask of you. As long as you finish the level alive, you will move on to the next level. You will take a punishment in the form of a 25% depletion of your Maximum Health though, so you have to be careful. I love that while playing any of the levels, there are ways of regenerating your health and nitros. By defeating anyone else on the road, you will regenerate a little bit, but if you keep an eye out, there are a few individuals that will regenerate a LOT of either.
You have to pick your battles accordingly though. I’ve noticed that enemies that will re-fill your bars a lot are very difficult to defeat. These enemies have a high defence and can really dish out the pain to you, and fairly quick. I’ve gone from 3/4 bar of health to dead in 5 seconds. There’s also all the traffic and other road related stuff you have to think about during all of this. The detection window for the cars on the road do seem like they are off. I’ve had many moments where I am driving with a pack of others next to me, a car will come up and only I am hit by it. There are times where I will be in the same lane as a car and when I’ve tried to pass them, I hit an invisible wall to the sides of the car, this can be extremely frustrating when you are using your precious nitros and this either stops you dead in your tracks, or you will hit the wall and fly off your bike. Dishing out damage to you as well as costing you precious seconds of your time.
The game will certainly be easier the more people you add to the madness. Both the campaign mode and quickplay both offer up to 4-player split-screen couch co-op. Of course, the option also has it’s drawbacks as 4-player will cramp your tv, no matter the size! I found the online mode to be confusing at first. My experiences with it were of a team race where it doesn’t necessarily matter who finishes first, but rather how close the whole team finishes as each person gets so many points for their place when they cross the line.
My time with Road Redemption ultimately filled me with nostalgic joy for a simpler time in gaming. I like the idea of bringing in the roguelike aspect to the series. I do wish the rewards were a bit more substantial because you will find that you have to play a LOT to get enough points to get all the permanent rewards. The saving grace is that I think that the gameplay is fun enough that most people won’t mind the grind.
*Code kindly provided by the publisher for review*