After my initial yet dated interest in the Painkiller series my thoughts going into Painkiller: Redemption was quite high to say the least. How quickly my excitement within the game fell after twenty minutes of play time was something a world record. The old-school mechanics of first-person-shooters is something I hold to the highest of standards when it comes to modern games trying to replicate it. Given Painkiller: Redemption’s release date of 2011 I expected the game to fare quite well. If Quake had a baby with Left4dead and it was raised under poor supervision, then Painkiller: Redemption is probably what you would end up with.
The game’s fairly simple within its mechanics and game design. Here’s a room, shoot everybody insight, and the story will progress…directly in to the next room where the player is required to everything they’ve just done for a second, third, and fourth time through. Had the game made more efficient use of level design and enemy variety then maybe, just maybe the game would be more enjoyable. But since the means for gameplay holds no reference to it’s plot and gameplay proves to be nothing more than a glamorized horde mode, there’s nothing of interest that encourages the player to push forwards.
Storyline is where the game falls greatly and while it’s of noteworthy discussion that Painkiller: Redemption is actually an add-on to the original game, it fails to differ in any real way from the original game, or to that of it’s various spin-offs. In short, the Queen of Hell is on a rampage and you have big guns. Put two and two together and it’s pretty obvious what the player is required to do. While this plot would appear to work well within the boundaries of a 1980s comic book or a campy horror flick such as Night of the Demons or Army of Darkness. The text based method of storytelling which consists of scrolling words, static artwork, and heavy metal music that never ceases to end from gameplay to menu, clearly fails in holding up to todays standards.
2011 wasn’t that too long ago, this unsatisfactory throwback to games that pre-date it, fails to accomplish anything that’s worthwhile and meaningful to the player, that I’d rather recommend something from that actual era should players desire an old-school shooter. The big difference here however, is that games of similar nature from that era relied on their gameplay mechanics as the focus behind the game, which were solid within their own rights. Painkiller: Redemption on the other hand, adopts these mechanics and sticks the player in a lackluster environment, then tacks on a lackluster storyline which should have ended two expansion-packs ago.
The biggest issue I found with the game lies within it’s level design. Brickwork arenas, demonic chambers, verticality and hallways that provide enough navigation to escape and dance around enemies. Sounds great on the surface, but the problem within these areas is that there’s so few differentiation between them that they’re just flat-out bland to look at. In theory the possibilities for the game’s environments hold a great deal of potential. The game takes place in Hell, well Purgatory to be precise. But given the freedom that’s available to work with unrestricted from the shackles of a grounded reality, I expected much more in terms of level design.
Distinction within the game’s enemies aren’t so bad as it stands, but since the gameplay is based around an onslaught of battling hordes, greater variation would be very well appreciated as reoccurring faces become quite common and quite quickly. Something I do find to be of interest as well as good use of it’s theme is the game’s selection of weapons. Serving as my primary choice of fire for the majority of the game is the Bone Gun. Serving as a demonic shotgun, blowing back large groups of enemies proves to be quite satisfying when being overwhelmed. Other choices within the players arsenal that do well in keeping the game distinct from other shooters consist of a crossbow, the nuclear gun, a demon head, and the razor cube.
While all weapons contain supernatural properties keeping in theme with the game, specifically the latter, all weapons have a secondary fire mode to keep players interested. With that being said however, due to the games level design and repetitive modes of play, the only people I can actually see being even remotely interested in the game are fans of the original, which actually did release in an era that made sense to it’s game design and game mechanics. This add-on pack which attempts to continue the series feels as though it’s overstayed it’s welcome, even if it’s original release date does pre-date this review.
Long term support is fine. But when it fails to bring anything new to the series or provide any advancement over the original, you really do have to ask the question as to why the game even exists. Steam sale with the entire collection going cheap, go ahead give it a shot. Standalone game that you’re curious to play? Proof of concept that hell is real.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary PC code was provided to Brash Games for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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