Ease On Down The Road Redemption
By Gwendolyn L. Spelvin
It’s not very often a title comes around the PC platform that reminds players of a time when great moto racing entries were exclusively for consoles with little hope that a port would ever see the light of day on Windows.
After a rough labor of love with sprite sheets, a painful birth of controversy from enhanced graphics upgrades, and a complete abandonment of the series on consoles, the guilty pleasures of highway carnage has just become the prized baby on the PC platform.
Fans of vehicular combat racing everywhere should rejoice in anticipatory relief that the phoenix ashes of Road Rash have come full circle; the once abandoned title never to resurface without an emulator again has now reincarnated with updated graphics, and is surprisingly alive and well.
Road Redemption fills the void to what was lost when the Road Rash franchise dominated every popular console of its heyday. After a fifteen-year absence in what is one of the greatest knock em’ sock em’ racers of all time, players can now relish the experience of the Road Rash yesteryear exclusively on the PC.
It’s was no easy task for Road Redemption to become the spiritual successor of a title that pushed the boundaries of decorum in motorcycle etiquette on the open road. Other developers (both tied to the original franchise and independents alike) have tried for years to parcel another title together without much progress or funding.
Only developer DarkSeas was able to come out at the top of the motorcycle heap.
That’s not to say there were not bumps in the road. Naysayers didn’t believe an unknown independent company could top the establishing franchise, and so far beyond its shelf life. These sentiments were compounded by the fact that the current Beta Release and Early Steam Access Releases on Steam were heavily buggy and all but glitch free.
A forty-dollar price tag for an Alpha Release did the developers no favors either and damn near caused a flash mob online from the shock of such a high price tag. Most fans questioned whether or not the project would see light of day after the review press turned against the title with scathing commentary that could normally put a small indie company out of business.
When haters hate, you know you’re going into the right direction of greatness.
Thankfully, the diehard fans had the last word and didn’t prematurely crash the motorcycle into the proverbial wall. To their credit, developer DarkSeas followed up the momentum promptly by allowing for mods for Road Redemption, a promise for open source, and a collaborative partnership with Yatch Club Games, who lent them Shovel Knight as a playable character.
In the end it was worth the pain and agony to bring the whips and axes back to motorcycles.
Obviously there are changes, and for some change hurts. Graphics have improved with modern expectations, but there is a lack of quality around the soundtrack selections. There are no pre-recorded cut scenes of your gang in between levels; a story mode is visibly absent for a more concentrated level progression that resembles Cruisin’ U.S.A. versus the original source material.
Don’t worry though, the carnage part that matters is still there that gives hours of gameplay. Yes, you can still die, crash in a combination of hilarious ways, get chased and beat by enemies and cops alike, and have an arsenal of weapons from clubs to guns. Most importantly, there is still a store to purchase upgrades, still making you ride your ass off to be rich enough to buy it all.
And nothing beats riding in full armor with people trying to club you down the road.
The cool thing is while you buying up all the perks of a road warrior, you never lose them; even if you start from the beginning they are permanently unlocked. Granted, it’s still not cool that you have to start from scratch if you run out of lives, but at least you can have an advantage getting your progress back.
Keep in mind though these levels are definitely an upgrade from Road Rash. Stunt racing on the clock atop high rise buildings with the potential to fall to your death while enemies try and knock you off of a bike does bring along its own select set of unique challenges.
Matching the pace and intensity of blood on the highway and other psychotic joys of the open road was a tough act to follow. Despite hiccups, Road Redemption has the core fundamentals of its predecessors down pat. More importantly, there are no disks to scratch from mishandling, preventing loading.
Keep up the good work, DarkSeas. Don’t let the haters keep you down.