Moving from ultra-fast antigravity racing to space combat doesn’t seem like a logical transition. Redout: Space Assault is a good example of why.
Redout was a cracking antigravity racer. In fact, I may even go as far as to say that it’s one of, if not the best to have come along in the past few years. Insanely fast and brutally difficult sprints around different planetary race tracks, complete with a pumping soundtrack and stunning visuals. Developers 34BigThings decided that they needed to revisit the universe for a prequel story in the form of 3D space shooter Redout: Space Assault. Sadly, I think it would have been better if they’d remained more grounded.
Redout: Space Assault was originally released on mobile as part of Apple Arcade, but has since seen a release on PC and console, with me reviewing the version on Xbox Series X. Now, I’m a big fan of space shooters, and it’s a genre that’s been woefully underserved for years. Everspace is easily the best one I’ve played for some time, but even that pales in comparison to the likes of Freespace 2 and the classic X-Wing games. My point here is that this is a genre I really enjoy, and I’ve been keen to find another game to enjoy, hence my interest in the trailer for this game. I was sorely disappointed.
For starters, this isn’t the style of space shooter than the trailers implied. I was expecting full freedom of movement and intense dogfights, but instead, I was presented with a mostly on-rails shooter more in the vein of Starfox. I say mostly as there are a couple of missions in which you can roam freely, but these are tedious item hunts or there solely for exposition dumps. I don’t have an issue with on-rails space shooters when they’re well done, but I really didn’t enjoy the combat here.
Your primary weapon automatically shoots at targets in front of you, whilst you can hold down RT to automatically lock-on homing missiles. The concept is somewhat like in Rez, but I felt like I had very little control over what I was targeting. Because there are so many enemies with so many attacks flying around at once, I found myself wildly swirling around the screen to avoid being hit whilst the game shot at whatever was there. There was little room for careful positioning and picking my targets due to the sheer volume of stuff on camera. Off-camera too, as there were a number of times in which I was being attacked from off-screen without me being able to do anything about it! I’m not sure if this was because the game bugged in some way or if I was supposed to have precognitive abilities, but it was irritating nonetheless.
Not that dying mattered in most cases seeing as you just respawn straight away with the only penalty being the loss of credits which is used for upgrades between missions. Occasionally a death can be an issue such as if there’s a time limit or when in a race, but for the most part it didn’t really mean much.
You earn credits by completing missions and bonus objectives, as well as by recycling cards that you unlock when you finish a mission. You always have a choice of three, and always get to keep only one, whether that’s your current one or a new choice. These offer bonuses like +5% missile damage and such, but really aren’t too exciting. I feel like they are a holdover from Redout: Space Assault’s mobile roots, as are the large menu buttons.
It’s not all bad though, as the flying feels pretty nice when you’re allowed to roam freely, although there’s not much excitement to be had in these sections. The visuals are really nice though and do hide the origins of the game. There’s plenty of different sets of asteroid fields to fly through and derelict shipyards to fight in, and the overall visual presentation is solid. I particularly liked how many different skins there were for your ship, even if you don’t see much of it in game. The music is quite fitting, with thumping tracks during combat, paired with solid sounding — although not feeling — weapons. The voice acting is quite competent too, it’s just a pity the story those actors are telling is about as cliché as a sci-fi plot can get.
But that’s about all I feel really positive about. With bugs preventing me from beginning the game, frame drops at seemingly random points, and an inverted Y axis option that only works for free-roaming and not the on-rails section — this infuriated me — Redout: Space Assault feels like it’s a huge step back for 34BigThings. Whilst there are over 40 missions to play though, I really didn’t feel the desire to finish them, even with the offer of new weapons to try out at the end of each chapter. I wouldn’t object to a return to the Redout universe, but I’d rather it stuck to what made it great in the first place because this certainly isn’t it.