Redfall (Sniper)
Format: Windows 11
Genre: First-Person Shooter
Developer: Arkane Austin
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks

Like most Unreal Engine 4 releases, Redfall benefits from some super high texture resolution, volumetric fog, ambient occlusion and other modern graphical effects. Simple joys, like brick walls with lights shining on them, or multi-colored houses cast against the distant sunset, sometimes give Redfall a real "next-gen" kind of appearance, especially at 4K with HDR. Other times though, especially when the player is using his flashlight, the graphics can look closer to something on the PlayStation 3: the lighting is too washed out, and the geometry is too basic. Redfall also has tons of technical problems, from low-res placeholder textures constantly re-emerging even when the player is standing still, to hitches when traversing the game's world.

This reviewer is no fan of ghetto music generally, but the composer successfully weaves hip-hop with synthy horror motifs in unexpected ways. It's weird hearing a ghetto-ass drum machine ticking away to church bell chiming, and it actually works well with the game's campy visual style and story themes. The voice acting is serviceable: various NPCs chime in with one-liners, and vampires and other baddies almost always announce their presence to the player through their mumbling monologues. The player characters also drop the occasional one-liner, but due to the game being so sanitized and politically correct, the jokes fall completely flat.

This reviewer has never played an Arkane game before, but apparently they like to create first-person roguelikes, where the player dies frequently but learns from his mishaps. Redfall specifically takes place in a quasi-open world map, where the player explores via a cut-and-dry first-person shooter control scheme, unlocking safehouses and taking on missions along the way. There is experience, player levels, a skill tree, and looter-shooter weapon finds with varying stats-- but none of it is overwrought or intimidating, or distracting from the game's core action. A cool extra feature is that the whole game can be played in four-player co-op, almost like an open world-lite "Left 4 Dead".

Beyond its technical issues, the biggest problem with Redfall is that its campy, sci-fi, "Stranger Things"-esque atmosphere falls on its face due to an over-the-top woke theological strait-jacket: you've got the obligatory crazy haired black lady character; a preacher NPC who got hit with six hundred ugly sticks and a man's chest, yet has a female voice and name; every single note or letter between lovers is addressed to and from same-sex names; and on and on. The game plays fine, and has an interesting mix of design cues-- but its world, characters, story, and setting is so blanched so as to not offend literally anyone, that the entire experience is negatively painted by the ham-fistedness of it all.

Sniper's verdict: