Redemption Reapers is a grim-dark tactics game in the style of Fire Emblem, but with some great twists on combat!
- Title: Redemption Reapers
- Release Date: February 22, 2023
- Price: $49.99
- Suggested Audience Age: Rated T for Teen by the ESRB
- Availability: Switch (Reviewed), PlayStation, Steam
- Recommended for fans of: Tactical Combat, Apocalyptic Fantasy, and C-c-c-combos
Geek to Geek Media was provided with a review copy of this title.
Redemption Reapers has absolutely taken me by surprise.
This recent release from the team behind Ender Lilies: Quietus of the Knights forgoes their Metroidvania experience in favor of a surprisingly solid take on Fire Emblem. There are a few bumps of frustration along the way, but mostly this is a fun tactics game with a surprising amount of story, full voice acting, and a fun twist on team-up attacks.
Grim Dark Fantasy
When you’re not sure what to do with a story, just focus on a ragtag group of heroes trying to protect the innocent from some sort of apocalypse. In Redemption Reapers, your heroes are a sort of fantasy special ops group called the Ashen Hawk Brigade. They work with a larger military organization to fight against a White Walker-esque invading force of monstrosities. There doesn’t seem to be much hope of saving the world, but they’ll do everything they can to protect any survivors they can find by bringing them back to their home base, which is called The Nest.
Look, I play tile games for the tiles more than for the story, and even the flagpole franchise in the genre, Fire Emblem, is full of tropes, but the world and premise of Redemption Reapers is as generic as its title.
Big Budget Storytelling
Thankfully, even if the ideas in Redemption Reapers are a bit bland, they are executed shockingly well. This game is invested in its story in a way that is rare in both tactics games and indie games.
Between nearly every mission is a CGI FMV cutscene with full voice acting and incredible production value. These scenes look great and work to both build up the personalities of the characters that make up the Ashen Hawk Brigade and to invest the player in the importance of The Nest. I genuinely dug these cutscenes and was interested every time one started up. They sometimes had weird jitters and odd pacing, but overall they worked really well.
Outside of the cutscenes, the details of the story are fleshed out in talking-head conversations straight out of Fire Emblem. Character portraits pop up on each side of the screen as a discussion plays out. Even here, though, the dialog is fully voice-acted.
The concept of the world doesn’t thrill me, but the delivery of the story is great.
Like Fire Emblem, Redemption Reapers is a strategy game with a heavy focus on individualized characters rather than generic units. Along with different weapons allowing for different ranges of attacks, each character has a set of upgradable skills unique to them. At a base level, all characters have an attack and defend ability, and generally have enough action points to use both of those on any given turn.
More sophisticated actions allow for attacks that move enemies, defensive actions that cover allies, blows that can’t be countered, and a lot more. Remembering which abilities you have available – and furthermore which abilities you’ve dumped experience into – is crucial to using your units effectively in battle.
Positioning is also key here, thanks to a system that allows allies to add on to attacks. You might start a turn by moving a heavy axe wielded in between a few enemies and using a skill that boosts his counterattack, then have an archer fire from afar, which will allow that ax wielded to join in on the attack. Being able to stack up multiple strikes at once helps to knock down heavier foes, and provides an extremely satisfying strategic experience.
For as much as I’m digging the storytelling and gameplay of Redemption Reapers, I also think I’m close to bouncing off of it. This game is difficult but is generous in that it doesn’t have perma-death and you can replay old levels for extra experience and resources to upgrade your weapons. Unfortunately, at about a third of the way through the game, I’ve hit a difficulty wall that seems to be requiring me to grind in those old levels in order to take on enemies who, as it stands, can one-shot most of my crew.
I may keep pushing through that difficulty curve, but with so many tactical games out there I am not loving the push to replay old levels as a requirement. Still, this is a pretty solid game and worth keeping an eye on for tactics fans, especially those who like getting pushed into different scenarios.