- Story And Setting
- Visuals And Performance
Redfall is a disappointing offering from Arkane that lacks the charm, depth, and mechanics that made their previous titles so beloved.
- Developer: Arkane Studios
- Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
- Release Date: May 2, 2023
- Platforms: Xbox Series X & Series S, Xbox Cloud Gaming, and PC
- Some Decent Setpieces
- Protagonist Designs
- Uninspired Story
- Lackluster Gameplay
- Lifeless Open-World
- Inconsistent Visuals
- 30 FPS Lock
Arkane Studios had been renowned as the masters of world-building and environmental storytelling, and with great games such as the Dishonored series and Prey under their belt, fans were geared up to be wowed when reviews for Redfall dropped, a new looter shooter with a vampire twist.
While recent negative rumors spelled disaster for this upcoming release, long-time fans kept their fingers crossed for another great release. Yet, with this Redfall Review, you will realize that times have changed and the high expectations were all in vain. Redfall has turned out to be a complete mess that lacks any soul and might be the final nail in the coffin for Arkane.
Story And Setting
An engaging story and immersive setting can elevate an average game to a memorable experience. However, with Redfall, a lackluster narrative and uninspired world design leave much to be desired. While the game’s premise holds promise, its execution falls disappointingly short, failing to live up to the potential of the studio’s previous hits.
Set on the fictional island of Redfall off the coast of Massachusetts, the story revolves around a group of four characters fighting against a plague of vampires who have taken over the town. A mysterious pharmaceutical company serves as the backdrop for the evil forces at play, with wealthy and privileged individuals transforming into vampires and subjugating the citizens of Redfall.
The setting itself is initially striking with its coastal charm and all-American aesthetic. However, as players delve deeper into the world, it becomes apparent that the environment lacks depth and distinguishing features. The town feels more like a Hollywood studio backlot than a living, breathing world, with sparse gunfights and endless loot grind dominating the gameplay experience. A few visually impressive setpieces punctuate the otherwise bland environments, but they are too few and far between to save the overall experience.
Characters can breathe life even into a lifeless and uninspired world, but here they only expose the glaring faults of this title as they lack any sort of depth. The game’s four protagonists come with unique abilities and backstories, but their development is shallow and fails to create a meaningful connection with the player. Even the supporting cast of characters who populate the safe houses and offer missions are one-dimensional and add little to the overall narrative. They often appear in cutscenes as static images with colored filters, further undermining any sense of immersion in the game world.
The layout of Redfall feels empty and lifeless, with little to do outside of the occasional cult camp or vampire nest.
The game’s voice acting is surprisingly good at times and makes attempts to compensate for the weak script, but it can only do so much as the overall narrative feels light, with little effort put into world-building beyond the broadest of strokes. Redfall’s storytelling ultimately comes across as an afterthought, with the game’s focus seemingly placed on the mechanical aspects of gameplay, which tumbles under its own weight as will be discussed in the next section of our review, rather than crafting a compelling narrative.
This is all the more infuriating as Redfall has immense potential. Arkane Studios has a well-earned reputation for masterful storytelling and world design, which makes the mediocrity of this game all the more heartbreaking. Had the game’s developers taken the time to flesh out the characters, enrich the setting, and craft a more engaging narrative, Redfall could have been a standout title. Instead, it serves as a stark reminder of the importance of a well-crafted story and an immersive setting in creating a memorable gaming experience.
Redfall’s gameplay is centered around gunplay, with a variety of weapons ranging from standard pistols and rifles to more inventive UV light blasters and stake launchers. While the unique weapons do add some variety to encounters, the overall experience feels weightless and unfulfilling. Aiming responsiveness drags, and when combined with the fast-paced movement of enemies, it creates a frustrating tracking situation that detracts from the enjoyment of the game. The 30 FPS lock on consoles further exacerbates these issues, resulting in a less-than-fluid combat experience.
The four playable characters each come with unique abilities, but these powers feel fragmented and underwhelming. For instance, Layla Ellison possesses telekinetic abilities that grant her a damage-absorbing umbrella, a spectral elevator, and the ability to summon her vampire ex-boyfriend for a special attack. While these powers look visually appealing, the supporting skill trees fail to enhance the abilities in a meaningful way. The game’s focus on co-op play also leaves solo players at a disadvantage, as many of the perks are designed for multiplayer scenarios and provide little value for a single-player experience.
Its open-world progression system borrows heavily from Ubisoft‘s playbook but fails to execute these mechanics in an enjoyable manner. Players are encouraged to invest a significant amount of time running the campaign with different characters and upgrading their weapons and abilities. However, the tediousness of liberating neighborhoods, purging vampire nests, and completing side quests quickly becomes apparent, reducing the experience to a monotonous grind, which we painfully experienced while playing the game for this Redfall Review.
The game’s world design presents additional challenges to the gameplay experience. The layout of Redfall feels empty and lifeless, with little to do outside of the occasional cult camp or vampire nest. Traversal options are limited, and players are often forced to sprint long distances to reach objective markers. This lack of variety in movement and exploration is disappointing, considering Arkane’s mastery of traversal and interior design in their previous titles.
One of the most glaring issues is the wildly inconsistent difficulty system. Playing solo often results in overwhelming combat encounters that leave players feeling frustrated and defeated. Stealth mechanics are poorly implemented, with no clear indication of detectability and erratic enemy behavior. Death often results in significant backtracking and currency loss, creating a disjointed and punishing loop.
Visuals And Performance
The open-world design is aesthetically pleasing at first glance, but the initial charm quickly fades, revealing a lack of any defining characteristics. The world appears devoid of life, with only a handful of enemy camps and vampire nests scattered across the landscape. This emptiness is compounded by the absence of engaging traversal options, making exploration feel like a chore.
Although a large majority of buildings are explorable, the game’s interior design, an area where Arkane Studios typically excels, disappointingly fails to impress. Locations are often drab and uninteresting, lacking the intricate details and worldbuilding of something like the Dishonored games. The result is a world that, while visually pleasant, lacks depth and fails to inspire players to truly explore and engage with their surroundings.
Even the vampire designs, the main attraction of the title, are mostly a hit or miss. Their AI also definitely needs a lot more work, as these enemies seem to lack any pathfinding abilities and struggle to even follow the player around the edges of a car.
All in all, the visual effects in the game are a mixed bag, with some moments of brilliance overshadowed by numerous shortcomings. Moments of visual splendor are few and far between, and the overall visual experience is marred by the game’s lackluster design.
Redfall’s performance is another area where the game disappoints. The 30 FPS lock on consoles becomes a hindrance during combat. The game struggles to maintain a steady frame rate, negatively impacting the fluidity of the shooting mechanics and character movement. This issue is further exacerbated by the game’s aiming responsiveness, which drags and feels sluggish. Consequently, players are left with a combat experience that is often frustrating and unsatisfying.
As we near the end of our review, I have to say that Redfall is a perplexing and underwhelming open-world FPS that fails to capitalize on the developer’s previous successes. Despite its intriguing premise of battling capitalist vampires in a picturesque coastal town, Redfall stumbles in almost every aspect, leaving players with a disjointed and unsatisfying experience.
The game’s core gameplay mechanics lack the refinement and depth expected from an Arkane title, and combat is often frustrating, hampered by sluggish aiming and a restrictive 30 FPS lock. The open-world design is visually appealing at first but quickly reveals a lack of depth and engagement, rendering exploration tedious.
The narrative and world-building also fall short, presenting a flat story and one-dimensional characters that fail to captivate players. In summary, Redfall is a disappointing offering from Arkane Studios, a lackluster title that lacks the charm, depth, and mechanical excellence that made their previous games so beloved.
This has been our Redfall Review. While you’re here, consider checking out some of our other articles.
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