The future-racing genre has had a few notable jumpstarts over the last few years, with Redout sitting heavily amongst the frontrunners. Its fantastically realised visuals, exceptional music and breakneck sense of futuristic speed meant that it carried on Wipeout’s legacy while bringing its own sense of style to proceedings. The folks at 34BigThings decided that the Redout universe was so strong in fact that they would create an arcade space shooting prequel.
Having appeared first on Apple Arcade, Redout: Space Assault is now making the jump to console and PC, and while it doesn’t revolutionise its new franchise genre, there’s enough fun to be found here for fans short on rail shooters.
You’re Leon, an ace fighter pilot in Bravo Squad, wrapped up in the tumultuous events surrounding the colonisation of Mars. As a tool of the Poseidon Security Forces you’re tasked with protecting the interests of the corporation, but unlike most arcade shooters there’s been some actual thought and attention given to the characterisation and storyline that takes it beyond the ‘fly here, shoot that’ setup we’ve seen so often before.
Redout: Space Assault has two primary gameplay modes. The first, combat missions, play out as an on-the-rails shooter in the loving vein of Space Harrier or Panzer Dragoon. With a knowing nod to Sega’s template, holding the fire button down allows you to lock onto multiple enemies, while you can tap the shoulder buttons to barrel roll your way out of danger. You’re able to gain a regular blaster too, as well as a host of other weapons, though you disappointingly don’t have direct control over it and simply have to line your ship up with something to shoot at for it to kick in.
The second of Redout: Space Assault’s gameplay modes allows you to freely move in 3D space, exploring meteors and space stations alike, while searching for various mission sensitive pick-ups and blasting the occasional bad guy. These sections take off the leash and let you taste full control of your craft, but there’s very little of the dog-fighting potential fulfilled, neutering the obvious potential that the game has. I’d have loved to see it flip between on-rail and large scale open combat, but that was seemingly beyond the scope of what the team at 34BigThings were looking to create.
As arcade shooters go, Space Assault’s visuals really sell the fiction, with cool, stylised spaceship designs – you can choose from a batch of different skins for your own ship – and you get a genuine sense of the technology of the time. There’s also the expected nods here and there to the tech that evolved into Redout’s vehicles and futuristic architecture, and it all hangs together really well, just as you’d expect for a world that’s already been thoroughly designed. Redout was a looker, and Space Assault is similarly pleasing to the eye.
There’s the nagging feeling that this is a mobile game that’s made the jump to home platforms, and it is. However, this doesn’t feel like an utterly meaningless cash grab. Firstly, it’s available digitally for £9.99, which feels fair, and I’ve had slightly more fun with it than the recent Panzer Dragoon remake – as a long time Sega Saturn fan that causes me actual pain to say. Secondly, the on-rail shooter is a genre that rarely shows its face these days, and while we wait for the Panzer Dragoon Zwei remake, Space Assault is a suitable little timesink for fans.
It’s not without a few nagging problems though, and you’ll discover them soon enough. Whether it’s the short mobile-oriented missions, the inability to completely stop your ship – which routinely leads to unavoidable collisions and death – or some odd difficulty spikes which feel designed to get you to grind out a few more upgrades, there’s just a few elements that mean that Redout: Space Assault feels a touch underdone.
There’s a slightly unnecessary card-based boon system that lets you pick a sub-system to boost, as well as an upgrade tree that sees you spending your earned currency on improved shields, health, missiles or weaponry. Those upgrades do initially give you some obvious improvements to your craft, but there’s a diminishing return for your currency as you progress. If you’re a veteran of the genre you’ll likely find that you can blast your way through much of it as well until you hit one of those difficulty spikes.
It wouldn’t be a Redout game if the music wasn’t up to scratch and there’s some brilliant synth-led sci-fi tones to massage your ears with, stretching out into exceedingly cool rock riffs, and beyond. The audio definitely added to my enjoyment of the game, almost diminishing some of the more obvious issues.