I’m not sure where to start with Redout: Space Assault. I think we might talk about how the game is deceptively using the “Redout” name to attract potential buyers who were fans of the 2016 anti-gravity racing game, or maybe we should talk about how this is a badly crafted mobile game that’s being ported to a PC with little effort. No matter how you view it, Redout: Space Assault is not a very good game, despite having some superficial charms.
Screenshots and trailers are rather misleading for this one, as I hopped into the cockpit expecting some epic space fighting action along the lines of Star Wars: Squadrons, but instead I saw myself locked into an on-rail arcade experience that I’d expect to find in an arcade or perhaps in a VR. Although a few missions actually open up and allow you limited freedom of flight, you’ll find yourself stuck in a very tiny circle of exploration before you reconnect with those rails.
The gameplay is stripped right out of the Star Fox layout Doc. You have a quickfire primary weapon and lock-on swarm rockets; you know the kind where the longer you hold the fire button the more missiles you lock on; very useful for sending out multiple waves of enemy drone formations that spin around you. You’ll feel lost most of the game as you ride the unseen rollercoaster rails that take your ship in, around, and through asteroid fields, or weave through space stations, or trail the enemy boss’s ship, all the while mashing the left button to blind-fire lasers while doing the rhythmic press-hold-release to launch your missiles. There is no real strategy or strategies involved other than pushing your ship quickly around the perimeter of the screen to avoid an incoming blast.
You’re only going to get a few missions into the game before you know that you can’t make any more progress without significant upgrades to your ship; more upgrades than you can make by normal progression, which means you’re going to replay all those previous levels and grind for even more credits so you can upgrade your lasers, rockets, hulls and shields. When upgraded, you can move on to a few more levels before you hit the next choke point and then grind for more upgrade points. At least missions have secret blueprints and secondary challenges that can be dealt with for bonus points, helping to alleviate the pressure of replaying past stages.
Redout: Space Assault does deliver a plot, and for once it really improves the experience of space shooters. You get a lot of com talk through missions with classic 2D character portraits, and the voice acting isn’t bad despite the lame script. Unfortunately, considering the number of times you’re going to replay the stages, none of this dialogue is skippable. Luckily, the soundtrack is pretty awesome and dynamically changing to suit the difficulty of the game, but unfortunately, the sound effects are pretty bad considering the explosive nature of what’s going on on the screen.
Redout: Space Assault is providing a 9-chapter multi-mission campaign per chapter. Completing missions gives you credits to buy upgrades as well as “cards” that can be equipped to provide boosts to certain elements of your ship. You can only equip a single card, so there’s a bit of planning to find out the cards to use when converting the rest to credits. You also have a little artistic freedom with your ship, changing its shape, size and color scheme.
This is a tricky review because I’d love this game if I played it in a comfortable chair or even on my Oculus Rift, but as far as the regular space shooter on PC and Redout: Space Assault is concerned, it’s just coming off as an obvious port of a limited vision mobile game. The broken HDR issues at launch stopped me from enjoying the game for a few weeks before it was patched, and even in its current state, the visuals are still washed out and unattractive with a simplicity of design that is better suited to VR. Despite low graphic fidelity, the level design and the view of space are very impressive and exciting to get through. The game has lost the flow you’d anticipate from a fast-paced arcade game due to its awkward difficulties and boss chokepoints that require you to grind previous credit levels before you go on, and you don’t know how much you need to upgrade to conquer those obstacles, so even that’s going to try-die-repeat.
To be sure, Redout: Space Assault is a fairly enjoyable experience… no matter how fun, but still engaging before you hit those inevitable choke points. With regular checkpoints, no lives, and endless lines, you might be tempted to keep trying to battle a certain boss, but ultimately it’s all about arms and defense stats. I didn’t mind coming along for the ride when I came to terms with the on-rails nature of the gameplay. Controls were sensitive, but I had problems when the game disabled target lock while chasing boss ships, and I had to not only dodge incoming fire but also concentrate my camera on certain parts of the ship to strike.
There have been a lot worse games you could pay $10 on, but there are also a lot better space shooter alternatives out there. I have no doubt that this is a fantastic game in the Apple Arcade; it was specifically designed for mobile gameplay with its intuitive interface and on-rail weapons design clearly intended for touchscreen input.