How do you feel about mobile games? If you have any familiarity with developer 34BigThings’ back catalog, you’d know that its futuristic racer Redout has been available on iOS and VR for the better part of five years. So, you can only imagine my confusion when the developers announced a sequel of sorts that actually goes as far from a racetrack as possible, instead shifting the setting to one of a more interstellar variety.
Further muddying the waters, it was also later announced that the title was going to revolve around space combat, somewhat in the vein of Star Fox or the Star Wars: Rogue Squadron franchise. Oh, and did I mention that Redout: Space Assault’s PC release is actually just a port of the iOS release? Yeah, if your “Spidey Senses” are tingling, it’s probably for good reason.
Shooting the lights out
I have personally always been a huge fan of the “on rails” shooter style, especially when it’s set in space. By all accounts, Redout: Space Assault should be directly in my wheelhouse. Hell, I even remember playing the game when it joined Apple Arcade in 2019. And while it was hardly groundbreaking, it was a perfectly adequate adaptation of the genre for mobile devices.
Fast forward a couple of years and the game has now arrived on PC. At the risk of sounding petty, I’ll say it appears that not much has changed in the port. All nine chapters have made the jump, with no exclusive content that I am aware of. The main story itself revolves around the career of a pilot named Leon who is an employee of the Poseidon Corporation, working in what amounts to a space security force. After witnessing several events that make him second guess his allegiances, he sets out on his own, eventually taking up with the local resistance.
After starting (and actually quitting in the middle of the first level) my first order of business was to actually disable the autofire mode. For some god-forsaken reason, this is enabled by default, mirroring the configuration of the mobile installment. Hopefully this default setting will be patched out at a future date, because if I just wanted an “easy button” for my games, I wouldn’t have even bothered plugging in my controller! I’m sure there are some that would rather have their games essentially play themselves, but I am not one of them. However, if you don’t opt to turn it off, the functionality will fire off a blast of “garden variety” weapons every time an opponent enters the crosshairs.
Luckily, in Redout: Space Assault there are minor enhancements that can be made to the ship to help keep things interesting during combat. These customizations allow you to increase the hull and shield strength or power up both missiles and primary weapons. Don’t confuse these with skill trees, however, because this is essentially the player’s only way to become more competitive. The one exception to the rule is that weapons can take numerous forms such as scattershot blasts, lighting chains that travel between nearby opponents, and Gatling guns.
Once you’ve gotten past those pesky settings updates and ship customizations, it’s time to dive into the moderate length campaign. Under most circumstances, it should be easy to clear in six to seven hours. Missions take a handful of different forms including the standard “on rails” shooter, free-roaming non-rails dogfights, vehicle chases, and races. Just to clarify, you might as well turn off all of your weapons in races, because you’re merely trying to beat fellow competitors to the finish line. On the other hand, in a chase scenario, the goal is to cause enough mayhem and damage to disable a vehicle before it can escape.
Considering that the dogfighting and rail-shooting segments in Redout: Space Assault are rather numerous, they tend to be the most polished and balanced aspects of the overall package. Races and chases, on the other hand, tend to be a bit more difficult to clear on the first (not to mention the 20th) attempt. Part of the problem is that, in the case of races, there’s no way to enhance your ship’s specs, aside from the shields and hull strength. Unfortunately, neither of those will help you win a race, which means that you can only progress by either memorizing the track or simply not sucking. Git Gud rules definitely apply here.
If a mission was a chase, I was even more hosed. Not only do you need to pilot well enough to keep up with the target, but you also need to equip weaponry that is strong enough to disable the adversary. This meant that once I failed a mission from the umpteenth time, I needed to go back to grinding through prior missions. After picking up side objectives here and there, I eventually earned enough space bucks to upgrade my weapon and missile stats to competent levels.
A Screeching Halt
My biggest beef with the campaign itself is that there is no way to get unstuck in your progression if you get hung up on a specific stage. As far as I can tell, there’s no skipping a particularly difficult mission in Redout: Space Assault, even if you fail countless times. This is not an exaggeration; I was hung up on the first chase stage for well over an hour. Additionally, there are a handful of missions where the objectives are to clear 60-80% of all enemies to progress. Call me crazy, but replaying the same mission ad nauseam, just for the fucks and chuckles of it, is the antithesis of fun.
Probably my most unexpected complaint is the fact that it didn’t look overwhelmingly impressive, even on a fairly stout PC. Considering how much the visuals of Redout: Space Assault popped on an iOS device’s screen, I was expecting the same on my monitor. Instead, things looked merely fine. Not terrible. Nothing exceptional. Just fine. It’s hard to say if it was the multiple similar-looking locations or the repetitively generic enemy ships, but the charm that it had in the palm of my hand just didn’t translate to the “big screen.”
Despite having a ton of potential, it appears that Redout: Space Assault leaves a bit to be desired when compared to other space combat titles available on PC. There just aren’t enough enhancements over its previous mobile iteration to justify its own existence. If you’re hard up for some interstellar shooting shenanigans, feel free to give it a look, but know that most likely you will end up disappointed. This is a flight that you are better off missing entirely.