Redemption Reapers Review – Flawed but far from irredeemable

Gare – Tuesday, March 14, 2023 6:21 PM
Share on

Redemption Reapers is one of those games. You know, the kind where I scratch my head, think long and hard, and wonder how I should rate it, because… it’s sort of a mixed bag. Did I dislike it? Absolutely not. I had a decent enough time with it. But would I wholeheartedly recommend it to every strategy gamer out there? Yeah, uh… I’m not so sure about that. This latest project from Adglobe, the developers of moody metroidvania Ender Lilies (a game I recall giving a pretty glowing review back when it came out) is a textbook case of “what could have been”. It’s got its heart in the right place, and there are things to like about it, but I hesitate to call it great – its tactical battles can be satisfyingly challenging, which is a good thing, but it’s also kind of bland and uninspired in ways that make it difficult to recommend to all but the hardest of hardcore strategy RPG enthusiasts. If you’re not into the genre, this isn’t going to be the game to convert you.

Teamwork is the name of the game

Indeed, Redemption Reapers is a strategy RPG – the kind where you move your units on a grid-based field, give out commands and watch things play out in a turn-based fashion. If you’ve played Fire Emblem, Final Fantasy Tactics or Tactics Ogre, you should more or less know what to expect. You take charge of the Ashen Hawk Brigade, a hardened mercenary group consisting of five members, each with various skills, abilities and temperaments. Every single person on your team has their own specialty in terms of what they can do on the battlefield – skills that set them apart from the rest. Urs is a defense-oriented “tank” who can draw the enemy’s attention and take hits without dying, Karren is an archer capable of providing healing and covering fire from afar, Lugh is a fiercely powerful lancer with abilities that deal massive amounts of damage and can even weaken your foes, Glenn is a swordsman who gains passive bonuses by standing next to allies, and finally, Sarah is the local rogue who excels at completely evading enemy counterattacks. Granted, my descriptions are oversimplifying things a bit, but you get the general idea. Many of the aforementioned talents need to be unlocked as you complete missions and earn XP, and it’s up to you to decide which ones to ignore and which ones to cultivate, but that’s sort of the beauty of Redemption Reapers – slowly figuring out the best playstyle for your needs, and then utilizing the distinct abilities of your heroes in carefully planned-out combos. It does feel pretty satisfying when everything goes just right, especially when you realize it’s the only way to stop enemies from mercilessly mopping the floor with you. Yup, you guessed it right: this is the kind of game that absolutely expects you to make full use of all the tools at your disposal, and will severely punish you for trying to brute force your way through missions.

The art of the follow-up attack

So yes, the game is difficult and can be quite unforgiving. In my experience, most enemies are capable of killing your heroes in two hits. Sometimes one. And while you do have access to healing potions that can be used once per mission, as well as healing skills learned by specific characters, you do still need to survive in order to even get a change to use them. The prevailing strategy here is “kill or be killed” – generally speaking, you need to take out the enemy before they have a chance to counterattack, because once a character is KO’d, they will be gone for the rest of that particular mission (don’t worry, though: there is no permadeath), meaning you’ll have fewer people to finish the current map with. So, how to avoid a grisly death? Well, there are various ways, a chief one being the game’s “follow-up attack” mechanic: if a character is standing within range of an enemy while it’s being attacked, they will be able to land a bonus follow-up strike regardless of whether or not they had already acted that turn. This means you can squeeze out additional attacks from your heroes by positioning them around enemies, thus making it easy to take out a baddie before it has the chance to go on the offensive and potentially turn the tables. Certain abilities also allow you to automatically evade counterattacks, while sturdier characters like Urs can be placed on the frontline to take some hits while you line up your other heroes for a series of consecutive follow-up strikes.

So, the bottom line is: rushing into the fray without a plan will get you killed, and most maps require careful planning and an almost chess-like positioning of your troops to make sure you’re the one hitting the enemy, and not the other way around. Slow and steady wins the race (despite the game’s tendency to penalize you for taking too long to complete a mission), and you’ll often have to methodically pick off bad guys one by one to guarantee victory. Don’t forget to upgrade and make use of your team’s defensive abilities, either – Karren learns a healing spell called Hunter’s Grace, Lugh is capable of protecting adjacent allies with Martyr, and Urs has Stone Soul, a defensive stance that lets him counterattack enemies while shrugging off damage. There are, of course, other skills and combinations to consider, but trying to optimize your team is half the fun of Redemption Reapers, and I wouldn’t want to rob you of that.

Managing your arsenal

Redemption Reapers also features a weapon degradation/durability mechanic, which means that every single weapon in the game can only be used a specific number of times before it breaks. A broken weapon is still usable, mind you, but its damage and accuracy will be greatly reduced, rendering it almost completely useless. Repairs are fairly costly, and the majority of your income will be from items and treasure chests found during story missions, so make sure to grab as many of them as you can before landing the finishing blow on the final enemy (and thus ending the mission, making you miss out on uncollected chests). You can, of course, go back and replay previous missions via the game’s Skirmish mode, but it’s usually best to try and collect as many chests as you can on your first go. This may seem needlessly punishing, but it’s honestly not quite as bad as it sounds; a general rule of thumb when it comes to managing durability is to reserve your weaker weapons for low-tier enemies while saving your “big guns” (that is, high-tier and/or upgraded weapons) for mini-bosses and tougher foes that need to be taken out ASAP. It’s all about assessing the current situation and deciding what to use and when, which is sort of what tactical games should be all about.

Another useful tip I can give you is to immediately mark every enemy on the map before you even begin the mission: this will highlight their movement range with red, making it easy to discern how far each enemy can go before they’re able to attack you, allowing you to just barely stay out of their effective range and lure them in with your tank (i.e. Urs) before killing them off with the rest of your party. In fact, I would go so far as to say that this is outright required to not be massacred in every mission, so make sure to use it. Remember: since most of your characters are extremely squishy and vulnerable, you have to be the one to attack first; you absolutely cannot give the enemy a chance to go on the offensive.

Far from irredeemable, but…

Redemption ReapersPlatform: Windows, PS4Genre: RPG, SimulationDeveloper: AdglobePublisher: Binary Haze InteractiveRelease: 02/22/2023As a final note, I have to mention one last thing. Despite its generally enjoyable – and often pleasantly punishing – gameplay, Redemption Reapers sadly fumbles when it comes to making you actually care about its setting and characters. Don’t get me wrong, the Japanese voice cast, should you opt for it over the English one, is full of superstar names you might recognize from popular anime and various other Japanese titles, but the game’s numerous dialogue scenes are all rather dull and do little to make one want to dive deeper into the lore. I’ll give credit where credit is due: I did enjoy reading some of the journal entries you pick up during missions because they help flesh out the world somewhat, but for the most part, Redemption Reapers just feels like a long string of missions with forgettable, milquetoast cutscenes crammed in between them that repeatedly fail to ignite the player’s interest. The Mort, the main antagonists of the story, are also basically just a horde of angry, Lord of the Rings-style orcs, so I can’t even say there’s a compelling villainous force present in the game. That said, if all you’re interested in is the tactical gameplay and you’re not discouraged by a lackluster narrative and forgettable characters, there’s a decent bit of fun to be had here, with a serviceable amount of customization to sink your teeth into. Just be ready for a healthy challenge and more than a handful of frustrating moments.

If you liked this article, follow us on our channels below and/or register!