From the studio which has brought us iconic games such as Dishonored, Prey, and Deathloop, Arkane Studios has slipped with their release of Redfall. There are many things wrong with Redfall, but there is a good game there with some serious underlying potential. Should you check out Redfall? Find out in my spoiler-free Redfall review below.
REDFALL REVIEW – STORY
Set in the town of Redfall which vampires and human cultists have invaded, you take control of one of four playable characters: cryptozoologist inventor Devinder Crousley, telekinetic student Layla Ellison, combat engineer Remi de la Rosa, and supernatural former US military special forces sniper veteran Jacob Boyer. As one of the only survivors, you must fight through waves of enemies and perform various tasks to reach and defeat three vampire gods, and eventually, The Black Sun, who is responsible for the eclipse blocking the sun over Redfall.
The story had potential but there was a disconnect between the storytelling and the gameplay which left me unsatisfied. As always with Arkane games, the world-building was fantastic, and I would love to spend more time in the Redfall universe, but the way the story was told was uncompelling.
REDFALL REVIEW – GAMEPLAY
Arkane’s staple and well-known game design returns in Redfall but this time with a large number of bugs and performance issues. I know it sounds like I’m being harsh on the game. Redfall is actually a fun game, there’s a lot of fun to be had either solo or co-operatively, but on a larger scale, it has a lot of flaws.
Let’s start with the positives. I loved the gunplay, it is really tight and there are a lot of different weapon types to choose from. Despite being a shooter and looter, being strategic will get you through tough fights and swarms of enemies. When the enemies hit you, they hit hard. I died a lot in my solo playthrough as Jacob, who is a master of stealth. Jacob has abilities to cloak himself and send a raven out to scout for enemies, with his ultimate ability being a high-powered sniper rifle that can rip through enemies in an instant. If playing solo, I would recommend Jacob as the character to select in your first playthrough.
Skills can be updated with a skill tree which adds more of a punch to your abilities. While it offers these useful upgrades, it’s important to note that stealth is not rewarded, as you mainly gain XP through missions, exploration, and killing enemies. I barely made a dent in my skill tree, which means it will require some grinding if you want to be the best vampire slayer in town.
The game is split into two halves, which offer two maps: Redfall and Burial Point. Each map has distinct landmarks like Redfall’s breathtaking ocean wall and Burial Point’s giant lit-up Ferris Wheel in the center of it. Despite the beautiful imagery, the world feels empty for most of your playthrough. The only time I had excitement navigating the world was in the dungeons accessible throughout the story. These dungeons were reminiscent of Destiny 2’s raids – full of enemies, loot, and additional lore.
One of the bleakest parts of the game is the quest design. Both the main quests and side quests are very uninspired and are generally a “go from point A to point B” mission. The maps are so small that I never wanted to explore a house on my way to a mission because I knew I would end up back there at some point anyway – which was often the case.
It doesn’t stop there. The AI is some of the worst I’ve experienced in recent years. They are so unintelligent to the point where they aren’t able to see you when you’re looking at them. Enemies will rarely try and dodge the entire clip of bullets being loaded into them which offers little to no challenge.
On the flip side, my favourite part of the game by far is an enemy called The Rook. After defeating a large number of vampires, The Rook will be summoned to Redfall and unleash devastating blows and fill the environment with red lightning strikes. The Rook will follow you around similar to that of Resident Evil 2’s Mr X, and is incredibly difficult to beat solo but will give you rewards and some breathing room once defeated.
At the time of writing, I have only experienced Redfall solo, but am partnering up with a friend this weekend to play through the game again co-operatively. This will probably not influence my final review score, but I will update this section if I have any additional thoughts in regard to co-op play.
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REDFALL REVIEW – SOUND AND AUDIO
Sound design plays a vital part in a game for me and my experience, and it was okay in Redfall. Vampires and other enemies usually say little quips to help you know they are nearby, but there was never any indication on which direction the quip was coming from which often left me confused.
The music throughout the game is composed by Jongnic Bontemps, who is also working on the 2023 film, Transformers: Rise of the Beasts. It all works really well with the setting of the game and is definitely a highlight for me.
Despite being a smaller release, there are some really big names in this cast. Yuri Lowenthal (Peter Parker, Spider-Man), Debra Wilson (Cere Junda, Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order), Fryda Wolff (Loba, Apex Legends), and Danielle Bisutti (Freya, God of War series) all have varying roles throughout the game which offers some great performances.
GRAPHICS AND PERFORMANCE
Graphically, Redfall shares the same art style as Dishonored. It’s nothing that will blow you out of the water, but as a dark and gritty environment, it is nice to look at. Staking the vampires was one of the most impressive animations in the game, which varied with the vampire gods as well.
Redfall was met with criticism before launch with their announcement that the game would be capped at 30FPS on the most powerful console in the world at launch. Playing the game at 30FPS was not as bad as I had thought until the game dipped below 30FPS during intense situations. If a game that is supposed to be running at 60FPS is capped at 30FPS, I should be experiencing a stable framerate the entire game. The game is poorly optimised and it shows.
The game isn’t released in an unfinished state, but it does need a lot more refining before I recommend anyone to purchase the game. There are so many bugs and I’m going to list a few as examples. The maps cursor kept snapping to the right of the map no matter what which made it incredibly frustrating to fast-travel or mark waypoints. Enemies are randomly generated into the game, and at one point I completed a mission that required me to travel some distance, and I didn’t see a single enemy.
WHAT’S NEXT FOR REDFALL?
As stated previously, there is a good game underneath all of the bugs and performance issues. What Arkane and Bethesda need to do is spend some time ironing out all the kinks and get 60FPS out as soon as possible (without crunches). I’m genuinely excited to revisit this game later in the year and see how it differs from my time with it now.
In its current state, I could not recommend paying the full price tag of $119.95 to anyone. But as it’s on Game Pass, I would recommend it to anyone that wants a fun but slightly disjointed experience with or without friends.
Redfall ensures a fun, vampire-slaying time despite the flaws it has in its current state. Even with the uninspired quests, a mid story, and poor optimisation, I do think this game is one to revisit at the end of the year after a few refinements.
Redfall is out now on Game Pass, Xbox Series X|S, and PC.
This game was reviewed using the Xbox Series X|S version of the game.