Fresh-faced and eager to please, my small strike team and I were hurtling around an asteroid field, searching for the lost blueprints of the colonizer’s scientist. Instead, we happened upon a rebel ship using the space rocks for cover, Star Wars-style. A few minutes, a few respawns, and a heck of a lot of missiles later, we breezed through the wreckage and recovered the missing plans. The rebels had been defeated; long live Poseidon.
This scenario, found in the first half of Redout: Space Assault, was one that stood out to me because it was the first time the narrative started to deviate from the generic “rebels in our space, clear them out.” There was a clear goal, misguided or not, and as a vertical slice, the mission was a clear example of what the title is. Instead of a modern take on F-Zero, the development team has instead taken their cues from Star Fox, delivering us a space shooter with plot points, upgradeable ships, and some dope paint jobs.
STORY – ALL AIRCRAFT, REPORT
You’re put into the role of Leon Barret, a pilot for Poseidon Security Forces. Humanity is in need of relocation, with the goal of colonizing celestial bodies such as the Moon and Mars. Poseidon is trying to clear a path to the Red Planet but is encountering resistance from activists, pirates, and smugglers. While the reasoning may be varied, opposing forces are united to halt Poseidon’s expansive and genocidal march.
This premise of this game is a pretty big deviation from 2016’s Redout, which was actually a racing title. Space Assault is set before the events of the first game, and instead of racing futuristic spacecraft along tracks, we’re navigating around space outposts and asteroid fields, picking off the enemy one at a time. The writing and character development here is still fairly slim and regulated to interstitial conversations before and after missions.
I really like the character of Leon. In many ways, he’s eager to join his fellow pilots in action, and he’s quick to take and fulfill the orders of his commander. But as the story plods along and more characters are introduced, the tight control Poseidon holds on its crew members starts to fall apart, and Leon has to make a choice about what sort of impact he really wants to make on the people of the solar system.
That is all to say; it’s still a pretty limited narrative! The big twists I saw coming from miles away and the beats didn’t really have any sort of impact on what the gameplay was. Being deathly low on fuel didn’t require me to manage my fuel supply for a couple of missions; I simply had a mission objective of shooting ore crystals to satisfy the reason I was in that area.
GAMEPLAY – DO A BARREL ROLL
I cannot stress enough how much this is like Star Fox. That’s not to say that it’s a ripoff, or the title doesn’t pull inspiration from other media, but playing through Space Assault felt so much like Star Fox 64 that I had to go and watch a Let’s Play of Corneria to scratch that itch out of my brain. The camera angle, the control scheme, the inclusion of barrel rolls, it’s all clearly the work of folks that have spent a lot of time in the cockpit of an Arwing.
Considering that it’s been five years since the last true Star Fox release, and even that was met with mixed reception, we’ve been overdue for a space shooter in that same wheelhouse. It was great to be out in a ship that felt so familiar but wasn’t skimping on the modern touches. I’ll get into the graphics in a moment but what I’m talking about here is how Space Assault took a small handful of level designs, mixed them up, and still managed to give me something that felt fresh each time.
I bounced between on-rails shooting levels, completely open exploration missions, high-speed space races, and some pretty huge boss fights. I didn’t get weighed down from the grind of flying the same loop over and over; there was enough variety to keep everything from getting stale. Another thing that helped me to avoid excessive repetition was the unlimited lives, which I have to say makes a really big difference when you keep exploding your ship.
The levels that really shine the most are the ones on-rails, as you don’t have to devote as much attention to navigation. The open exploration areas are fun to see a sense of scale, as well as to collect the ever-necessary coins to upgrade your ship with, and the game does a really great job of evening out the ship and the camera, so players don’t get turned around and confused about where they’re flying.
Racing levels are fun, but there isn’t much to them; they feel too much like filler. Boss battles are strictly trigger mashing exercises as you unload wave after wave of missiles into different parts of an enemy ship. These aren’t bad or disappointing level types, but there’s just not too much to them.
GRAPHICS/AUDIO – SHINY
After playing this title, you will have an entirely new outlook on neon. Everything is shiny, luminescent, and vibrant. It all comes together in a great way and is a visually stunning game, although some of that might be due to flying so fast you don’t notice much of the details. Enemies are hard to pinpoint, as they are quickly replaced with an explosion. I shot at a number of my NPC teammates because I confused them with enemies. There was no consequence for this, except for my own complete shame.
There is barely any sort of HUD, simply a missile indicator in the bottom-right corner, giving you a full-size view of the action at all times. There’s no need for any additional information due to the unlimited amount of weapons and lives you have. Even missiles are eternally refilled; there’s just an extremely small cooldown for the purpose of allowing you to lock-on to enemies. It’s almost a shame that I played the title on my Switch Lite, as the small screen surely left me with a lesser video fidelity. As always, though, the ability to weave in and out of asteroids while laying in bed is, in the end, worth it.
The soundtrack was composed by Aram Jean Shahbazians and Leonardo Mazzella and fits the title perfectly. The music thumps in the background but swells at all the right narrative spots, which also makes it great background music for other tasks, like writing! All of the characters are also fully voice acted, and they did a great job expressing the personality of each character.
Redout: Space Assault was reviewed for Nintendo Switch. A key was provided by Sandbox Strategies.