HIT HIM WITH THE CHAIN. Nothing else mattered. HAHA I HIT HIM WITH THE CHAIN. No-one cared about winning the race. THE CHAIN THE CHAIN HIT EACH OTHER WITH THE CHAIN ALL THE TIME THE CHAIN. This was the experience of trekking to the local games shop every school lunchtime, and paying the very obviously child-hating storekeeper 25p for a ten minute go on a Sega Mega Drive running Road Rash. It’s a motorbike racing game, but really it’s about hitting people in the face with chains. Road Redemption [official site], a spiritual sequel Kickstarted back in 2013, has spent the past 18 months promising it’s about to leave Steam Early access, and now, finally, it has. The chain is mine once again.
Actually, I think I prefer the spade now.
I took Road Redemption for a test drive three years ago, and as if the increasingly rapid passage of time wasn’t already bewildering enough, I’m fairly surprised to find how fundamentally similar the game is in 2017. Which is to say, at heart Road Redemption is incredibly stupid, because Road Rash was incredibly stupid and to do anything else would be sick and twisted villainy.
You drive fast along a desert road filled with cars and other motorcyclists. These motorcyclists will beat you with iron bars and stab you with knives and batter you with spades and rend you with chains if you get too close, which means that you must attempt to murder them at 120MPH before they can do these things. Sometimes it is a race, in which opponents can be eliminated with a swift spade to the face (although numbers are replenished from the infinite ranks of other motorists), and sometimes you are outright told to murder anyone else.
It’s more advanced than Road Rash in that there are modes, and more weapons, and all manner of vaguely nauseating murder- and crash-physics, but really it’s the game but faster and with far more regular bar/knife/spade/chain > face action.
One other big difference, though. Though it had AI opponents, Road Rash was a game that was really only fit for paying 25p so you could smack your mates in the face with a 16-bit chain. Road Redemption, by contrast, has a campaign, and it’s a little roguelitey.
Lest you fear this sounds complicated from a game that has always been the exact opposite of complicated, let me put it like this: you can upgrade weapons and replenish health between missions, and missions are basically only A RACE or MURDER EVERYONE. If you die, you lose your upgrades, but you get to spend experience on a different set of upgrades that provide minor boosts to e.g. health and damage forever. That’s it! It’s Road Rash but with unlocks, and some Australian fella occasionally shouting things at you in the background.
That’s my take after ooh, 45 minutes with it. Would I play more? Sure, why not? It’s a bit barebones, it looks rather more 2013 than 2017 and it’s about as deep as a week-old pancake, so I wouldn’t say it lives up to the whole four years of anticipation thing, but: bikes and weapons and SPEED and DEATH. That’ll do. It’s out now via Steam for £13.49/€17.99/$17.99 and has online, local and splitscreen multiplayer, the latter of course being what it’s really about. Get yourself a long HDMI cable, three friends and sit ’em in front of your telly. THE CHAINS.