Redout: Space Assault takes us back to an era in which the classic arcade sci-fi shooter was fused with the power of modern day computers and their CD-ROM drives. How does the formula work these days? After an earlier iOS release, it’s now out on Xbox, PlayStation and the Nintendo Switch.
When developer 34BigThings announced Redout: Space Assault (relatively close to its release date), I was surprised for two reasons. I wasn’t aware a new Redout was in the works (I missed the iOS version), and I also found out that this one’s not a zero gravity racing game but rather an arcade-like shooter in outer space.
The original Redout was released just before the resurgence of the futuristic racing genre kicked into high gear with WipEout Omega Collection, Antigraviator, Trailblazers, Grip and Pacer. Space Assault shares a name (and presumably engine) with that racer, but it’s more of a retro space shooter. It’s been compared to Starfox, but with its emphasis on attractive visuals and simple gameplay my mind went back to CD-ROM classics like Rebel Assault and Novastorm as well.
As with many arcade shooters, there’s a thin plot and ditto delivery here – this time it’s a familiar tale of a space combat pilot who realizes he’s on the wrong side of the law and joins the resistance against the evil corporation he used to work for. It’s hardly what you’d call original, but shooters like this are rarely played for the story.
The action matters most, and unlike games like Everspace or Wing Commander, deep space combat happens with on-rails gameplay in Redout: Space Assault – which is part of where my comparison to Rebel Assault and Novastorm came from. Dodging bullets and weaving past asteroids and debris at high speeds makes you feel like a kickass pilot indeed, and I instantly remembered why the formula always worked so well. Games like X-Wing (at the time) were relatively low on action, and although the games were great their universe felt and looked barren – Space Assault is all about the action, and delivers it non-stop.
While instantly gratifying, it does wear a bit after a while though – mostly on account of overly simplistic gameplay mechanics that are no doubt partly because of the game’s mobile roots. The game tends to auto-target a bit too much, giving a decreased sense of control over the action. This only becomes noticeable after a while though, when the undeniable thrill wears off.
While these on-rails shooting section are the heart of the experience, the developers have also added other gameplay styles to the game – but they end up feeling like filler more than anything. Some have you flying freely through space looking for objectives and loot, while others see you chasing through rings – for no apparent reason except that it’s a little bit like the original Redout, only without the actual racing, competition of sense of speed.
Redout: Space Assault would have been more enjoyable if it was just about the space combat – it’s trying to be too much at once for its budget price point. Despite being released on mobile first, the deep space firefights look great, the action is thrilling and the game is easy to pick up and enjoy. We just wish it was sandwiched in between a better game, but it’s going to be a fun diversion for someone looking for a mindless sci-fi shooter.