The futuristic racing genre isn’t dead, not if 34bigthings has anything to say about that. The indie studio gave us the Redout racing game released some time back, which showcased a clear inspiration from other games in the genre like F-Zero and Wipeout. All share a taste for incredible visual styles, a groovy music soundtrack and a sense of speed that’s common in most racing games but is made ever so much more special when it’s the future. 34bigthings weren’t content just to have a racing game stand alone, and they’ve created a prequel that is a space shooter.
Yes, you read that right. Redout: Space Assault, at least according to its own lore, is a prequel to the racing game Redout. The space shooter initially appeared on the Apple Arcade but is now available for console and PC. It’s nothing groundbreaking or revolutionary, but for fans of space shooters there is some fun to be found here.
You play as Leon who is a pilot in the Bravo Squad for the Poseidon Security Forces. As Mars is about to be colonized, the events of Redout: Space Assault detail the events surrounding said colonization and make most of the backdrop of the game’s narrative. A lot of attention was given to the characterization and personalities of Leon and the others you meet within the game which is a nice and welcome change to games of this ilk. Usually this type of indie game tend to focus more on the shooting and action and leave the plot as an afterthought, and with Space Assault that is not the case. It’s refreshing to see this in a budget release when so many other studios make games like this as an afterthought.
Narrative aside, the game divides its gameplay between combat missions that have the traditional on-rails shooter sequences commonly found in titles such as Starfox or Space Harrier, with a sprinkle of Panzer Dragoon-esque lock-on firing thrown in for your thumbs to keep busy. There are also free roam type missions that allow you to explore giant asteroid fields and huge space stations to find blueprints and other pickups. Some even have a sort of boss fight that you have to tackle within that 3D space, and they make for some truly entertaining battles, despite the sharp and heightened difficulty of these encounters.
The oddly-placed difficulty spikes some of these boss encounters have are perhaps the biggest complaint I have with the game. They feel out of place because you then must redo missions and grind upgrades which sometimes kills the narrative pacing of the game. I hated being engrossed in the initial beginning story, only to bang my head against an boss ship encounter that two-shot me like it was nothing after having a routinely fair time in the prior missions. To then go back and do missions all over again to hopefully not get hit by a rocket just so I can get the in-game currency that task may reward so that I can boost my hull and shields some more after already spending a bit on my hull and shields was a minor annoyance. Its jarring because as someone who play shooters, you’ll find yourself shooting through a lot of the missions with ease only to then get properly stomped and not know why outside of understanding that there is a forced upgrade path even though the game gives you the freedom to choose what you can upgrade. I tend to prefer a little more freedom in my games as a player, so this is probably a personal nitpick than anything. However, the difficulty spikes are still there, and some fine tuning in that area was warranted. Alongside the upgrade system in place, there is a sort of card-based add-on system that gives stat bonuses to your hull, shield, weapon or missile but they don’t feel any different when equipped and is perhaps the most underused feature in the game.
Also, despite it being a space shooter, the game feels a little on the slow side with its movement and camera design. The use of speed lines to simulate speed was a nice visual touch, but the on-screen movement didn’t match the sense of speed these shooters tend to have. This is made up for by the game’s visual and graphical. The ships, space station architecture and the explosions and shots fired all have a visual splendor that is appealing to the eye and it serves to make up for the lack of sense of speed.
If you’re a fan of space shooters, Redout: Space Assault is a worthy trip for a weekend playthrough. At a bargain price of $9.99 on most PC and console digital storefronts, it offers a sizeable value of arcade style action, great visual design, and a good sci-fi synth soundtrack alongside it. It may offer a limited experience, but what is there is decent for its price point.