Remember Road Rash? The Sega Genesis game about motorcyclists bashing each other’s heads in with chains and and bats? What if I told you that game had a spiritual sucessor for the PC? One where you can play as Shovel Knight slicing into a police officer with a broadsword? Yes, the game’s as awesome as it sounds.
In Road Redemption, you play as a biker of your choice on a cross country campaign to defeat other gangs in a series of motorcycle challenges, ranging from racing to attracting the attention of the police. Though, if there’s one thing in common with every mission, it’s that you can expect there to be a good amount of old fashioned vehicular combat.
Weapons can range from the mundane (pipes, 2x4s) to absolutely wild (battleaxes, maces), but the main difference is their reach and power. Some weapons will be able to down racers in one or two hits, while weaker weapons will take longer to take out your foes. In addition to being able to attack left or right, you can also counter and block attacks with the A button (I played on an Xbox 360 controller), grab opponents and run them into cars with the right bumper, and kick with the B button. This all adds up to a really fun melee system, even if it sometimes boils down to which biker can strike first.
While the melee combat is satisfying, the same cannot be said about the ranged. Guns can periodically be found after defeating racers, and they’re extremely cheap. Since you don’t have to get up close and personal with enemies anymore, it makes picking them off rather easy … in practice. Because when you try to shoot at an enemy and drive at the same time, there are simply too many things to keep track of, as I often found myself driving right off the road. So it’s either too easy or flat out impractical. Not a great balance if you ask me.
Despite nearly two hours of play, I’ve only managed to make it to the fourth level. Why? Road Redemption has permadeath. See, whenever you die, you’re brought to a skill tree where you can permanently increase things like weapon damage or the quality of your starting weapon. Once you’ve spent your skill points, it’s back to the start with you, and all unspent XP is lost. While it does irk me that you lose your remaining XP when starting over, it’s not really that big of a deal.
Along with being able to choose your character at the start of every run, you can also choose a bike. These all handle differently and have difficulty rankings ala Trials; although when it comes down to it, these don’t change much gameplay wise. You’re still going to be going fast and smacking other motorcyclists with blunt objects no matter the bike.
As I write this, I’m giddy to play more. Trailers I saw showed off bikers racing across a roof, and achievments hint at a “Rainbow Road.” All of this sounds like a perfect recipe for even more insanity, so if you excuse me …
I’ve got a fourth level to beat.
Road Redemption was purchased by the author in Early Access and previewed on the PC