Redemption Reapers lives up to its name - it’s a dark and gritty strategy RPG. And while there are a lot of intriguing features in the game, the difficulty may turn off some players. Fans of SRPGs will find a good challenge here, but those that are first getting into this genre may want to start elsewhere.
You play as a group of mercenaries called The Ashen Hawk Brigade. They are a ragtag army set out to stop the Mort, an evil force rampaging through the lands, killing all those in their way. Think orcs from The Lord of the Rings. In fact, the story does feel like it takes inspiration from Tolkien’s work. The game opens with one of the main characters, Sarah, explaining that she’s out for vengeance. The scene that plays out is pretty gruesome, with the Mort slaughtering a village.
And through the narrative, it feels like the heroes have the odds stacked against them. Of course, this theme also comes out in the gameplay, for better or for worse, which I’ll get to in just a moment.
I like the story, but the writing and the delivery of the lines just felt off. One of the first characters you meet is a non-playable character named Socius, a tall, slender man, probably in his thirties. But his voice is deep and grizzly and doesn’t fit the character's image. There’s one scene where he’s talking to the general of the Ashen Hawk Brigade, and the conversation doesn’t make a lot of sense. It was an awkward moment about why they are fighting against the Mort.
Another thing that feels off about the delivery is how expressionless each character looks. Sometimes the hero delivers deep and emotional lines, but the face of the character is blank. Of course, one could argue that this is due to the strain of the war. But this took me out of the narrative.
If you’ve played SRPGs before, you know that the gameplay is akin to a gameboard. You move your characters into locations that you feel will be best suited to win. Each level has a goal, or what the game calls aspirations. One of the features I enjoy about this game is the fact that the aspirations could change. For example, I was to defeat the enemy’s general in one of the levels. However, one of my heroes fell during battle, and the aspiration changed to kill all the enemies. It’s a clever way to change up the end goal and tie it back to the character’s feelings.
One of the interesting features is how your team supports each other. For example, if you have characters next to an enemy that another hero is attacking, you can initiate an attack from the nearby characters. This mechanic makes mowing down the bad guys easier, and you’ll need all the help you can get.
One of the aspects that makes this game rather challenging is that each character has only so many healing potions. During battle, you can find healing veins that will replenish one of your character’s health and potions, but these veins are limited. As a result, you’ll need to use your healing drafts sparingly, which can be difficult.
You’ll earn skill points to purchase different abilities as you level up your team. These skills can change the tide of battle, so reading through each ability before buying them or leveling the skill up is important.
My biggest complaint is how unbalanced the game feels. For example, there’s one chapter that pits your team of five against a lot of Mort, and the aspiration is to clear the level of the Mort. A few skirmishes in, and you’ll be out of healing potions, as the enemies do a lot more damage than most of your characters. To make matters worse, more Mort started to appear. Making one mistake is costly, and you must repeat the level. It’s a frustrating experience, to say the least.
The game is beautiful, as well as the cut scenes. However, some of the level designs felt generic. A lot of time went into building up the dark and gritty settings, but the same level of detail doesn’t seem to be applied to the levels.
Final Grade: C+
There’s a lot that I like about Redemption Reapers. It was fun when I was in the zone, and my team wiped out the Mort. And the skills for each character feel like they help turn the tide of battle. However, the unbalanced gameplay is frustrating, especially early on in the game. For veterans of SRPGs, this may be a welcomed challenge, but for newcomers to the genre, this is a turnoff.
Review code provided by Stride PR