Redemption Reapers Review | Condemnation Cultivators

Welp

Binary Haze Interactive is a relatively new developer on the scene, and its debut work Ender Lilies was incredible. One of the best games the year it came out and a Metroidvania genre standout. I understand a studio label isn’t a monolith, but I don’t think one could blame me for being excited about the dev’s next game. Enter Redemption Reapers, a tactical strategy RPG aiming to take the grid-based combat of a Fire Emblem or Famicom Wars and combine it with a dour, pseudo realistic aesthetic with a top tier voice cast brought on to sell some dark fantasy melodrama.

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It’s a hard swing for sure, but a rough combination of poorly-tuned systems and a severe identity crisis make it a pretty clean miss.

Redemption Reapers Review

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Redemption Reapers starts strong with a nasty opening showing the typical Small Fantasy Village Destroyed by Toothmen thing but with a gravity making a great introductory argument for the setting. It’s not gratuitous in a Game of Thronesy kind of way, but lays out the very human stakes of dark fantasy warfare quickly and quietly. Anyway, then we’re introduced to an anime Scooby Gang dressed up like goth LARPers and we’re off to the races.

Early on things seem pretty dope. Each character has a rechargeable healing potion ala Dark Souls, and the whole combat loop seems based around ganging up on individual enemy units and beating the everloving shit out of them with the whole gang. There’s a combo system that gives you free additional attacks for every friendly unit adjacent to the enemy, and some characters can even move themselves or others around to facilitate these combos even without setting up a whole box. When you get to pull that off and watch your team tear shit up, Redemption Reapers kicks ass.


“Redemption Reapers also wants to be a classic Fire Emblem, thereby punishing the crap out of you for engaging with its central combat gimmick”


But in addition to being grimdark Disgaea, Redemption Reapers also wants to be a classic Fire Emblem, thereby punishing the crap out of you for engaging with its central combat gimmick. Your characters are almost all glass cannons, and are routinely up against massive groups of enemies with equally massive movement range. Your little scrappy band of five fighters isn’t subject to permadeath, but the slightest mistake or RNG loss means you may as well start the fight over. This game tells you to be aggressive, then yanks the game out from under you on some Charlie Brown football shit.

Between fights you can award a dollop of “shared” EXP for “training,” hang out with a price-gouging bastard of a merchant or assign skill points. The skills are neat as they feed into the group combo thing quite well and give each character more thoroughly defined roles as you go. But all the other stuff feeds into the other part, as weapons degrade, are ludicrously expensive to repair, and the pittance of EXP you can spread out never accomplishes anything. In the opening hours there’s nothing like skirmish battles to help you overcome some otherwise oppressive difficulty tuning. Or lack thereof, rather.


“The hurdles you have to clear to get there are simply not worth the superhuman patience and/or stubbornness you might need”


That’s the long and short of it, really. Redemption Reapers couldn’t decide if it wanted to be a kickass combo system or super hardcore strategy challenge, tried to do both and didn’t even come close to sticking the landing. Eventually things start to open up a little more and skirmishes do come in, allowing you to actually build up the numbers to engage with Redemption Reapers’ systems. But the hurdles you have to clear to get there are simply not worth the superhuman patience and/or stubbornness you might need.

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It’s a real bummer, and I feel like the only path forward is updating the onboarding hours to drop skirmishes in earlier. Otherwise, players are going to get stuck with no way to break through roadblocks save for luck and brute force. Ender Lilies was a home run with a compelling story, unique mechanics and a well-formed balance between challenge and progress. Redemption Reapers isn’t really more ambitious, but far more clumsy, managing to contradict itself so sharply it cleaves itself in half.


Pros:

  • Superb English voice acting
  • Dark fantasy that doesn’t rely on shock tactics or gratuity
  • Cool combo system

Cons:

  • Difficulty feels overtuned and at odds with the hooks
  • Onboarding and non-combat systems feel clumsy

Score: 5

A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review. Reviewed on PC.


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Author
Lucas White
Lucas plays a lot of videogames. Sometimes he enjoys one. His favs include Dragon Quest, SaGa and Mystery Dungeon. You can find him on Twitter @HokutoNoLucas. Wanna send an email? Shoot it to [email protected].