Redfall is a vampire-hunting FPS looter-shooter that pits you and up to three friends against an infestation of the undead. With your choice of four protagonists, each armed with their own special abilities, you take on the vampire uprising and their human lackeys in an attempt to reclaim the titular town of Redfall, Massachusetts. Welcome to our Redfall review!
Dropped in the centre of the action
Redfall drops you right into the centre of the action aboard a ferry that is crawling with vampires. Specifically, there are two vampires who begin to approach but stop and flee as they are disturbed by the Black Sun, the vampire queen. She approaches you, lifts you by your throat and mysteriously states that she wants to keep you alive because she can use you. Next, the sunlight beams in through the window, scalding her, causing her to drop you and then also flee. The cut-scene ends and you are then free to roam.
The first thing you notice is that the ferry is empty except for the human bodies scattered everywhere. You wander around, finding notes everywhere, some food and drink and random items such as bottles, rolls of toilet paper and packs of playing cards. Then you step outside and see that not only have the vampires taken over, but they have attempted to block out the sun. They have also managed to somehow hold back the sea. Your immediate surroundings show numerous water-based vessels stranded on dry land where the sea used to be. As you look around, you see that there are truly colossal, towering walls of seawater all around you, being held up by some invisible force. This is very impressive and even quite breathtaking at first.
Few and far between
Enemies are few and far between and it often feels like you spend more time running from one location to the next than you probably should in the hunt for something to do. The town understandably feels mostly deserted due to the locals being driven out or killed. But the seclusion can quickly become tedious. Vampires and human cultists can often be found inhabiting buildings such as abandoned houses or shops. You almost never encounter any of these characters between locations.
Co-op play lies at the heart of Redfall. You can play in lobbies of up to four friends, each able to select their own characters. Characters’ abilities can then be combined to make light work of large groups of enemies that you will encounter. As the saying goes, the more the merrier and this holds true for Redfall. Co-op play allows you to approach missions completely differently to solo play. It also enables you to be able to coordinate your approach with your teammates. It puts a whole new perspective on things.
However, any story progress made will only reflect on the host’s profile. Other participants will have to play the missions under their own profiles to progress them. There are currently no public lobbies which is a shame. It would be great to join a game with others whenever you feel like it. Instead, you have to rely on your friends being available and them having access to Redfall.
Use your skills
The controls are responsive and react well both when navigating the map and also when firing guns. Special abilities also feel great to use. I played through with Layla, whose special abilities are Umbrella, Lift and Vampire Ex-Boyfriend. Umbrella enables you to deploy a forcefield-type umbrella which absorbs enemy impacts and then allows you to blast the absorbed energy back at your enemies, stunning them. Lift allows you to place a forcefield-type lift/elevator almost anywhere that you wish. You then step “into” it and it propels you up into the air. It also sends enemies up into the sky if they happen to pass over it which makes for an amusing take on clay pigeon shooting.
Vampire Ex-Boyfriend is downright cool, especially when you are outnumbered. Layla summons her vampire ex-boyfriend and he appears, greets you, and then proceeds to utterly destroy every threat around you. This is especially helpful in scenarios where you are outnumbered by vampires as you often get overwhelmed and end up being killed.
One particularly fun element of play is petrification. There are numerous UV light sources scattered around the world and if a vampire strays into the path of one, it instantly petrifies them (turns them to stone via calcification). This is especially enjoyable when you are being chased by multiple vampires because you can lure them all into the path of a UV lamp and watch them instantly turn into stone statues! Better still, you can then strike or shoot the petrified vampire(s) and watch them explode into countless tiny pieces right before you!
Things gradually become a pain in the neck
Missions are mostly straightforward. They are typically find-and-deliver or kill-this-enemy type missions and when I complete one, I am not left thinking “I would love to do that mission again!” This is because, despite the world looking and sounding amazing, most missions are not unique. The missions mostly feel run-of-the-mill with no particular aspect(s) screaming out at me. They are also one-dimensional, meaning there is normally only one way to achieve the goal. As such, this approach doesn’t lend itself well to enticing players back to retry missions in different ways.
This one-dimensional approach also extends to most encounters that you might have with human enemies. They are all very similar and once the battle is done, that’s it. Vampire battles are way more fun than battles with humans. Humans always tend to act and fight in the same way, which is to stand in front of you occasionally firing their guns. They then retreat a few steps, haul their weapons back up and fire at you again. Vampires, however, fast-travel all around you, zipping from one side to the other and attacking you from literally every angle.
There are also variations in vampire types, meaning that some have different abilities from others. One particularly harrowing vampire type is known as a siphon. Siphons extract the very life from within you via a spell and some are even able to surround themselves with an energy shield, which is simply awesome. Humans, however, still just fire their weapons at you whilst asking who you are, which is bizarre. Aside from achievement hunting, there really isn’t much that draws players back in.
Graphics and Sound
Redfall is absolutely beautiful to look at, full of bold colours and intricate details. There is plenty to see, with vast areas of empty landscapes and residential areas alike. There are suburbs which stretch as far as the eye can see, dense with large houses and vehicles parked outside of them. The greenery within and around the suburbs is lush, rich and vibrant. There are no inhabitants, however, as they all either evacuated or were killed at the hands of the vampires. The humans who do remain now serve the vampires.
The vampires, who all hover above the ground, are lanky, thin, unnaturally large-handed monstrosities who can move so quickly that they appear to be able to teleport. They are pale and gaunt with cold, dead eyes that seem to penetrate your very soul whenever you see them up close. Their voices are mysteriously creepy and distorted, sounding as if they are speaking to you simultaneously from another dimension and also from within your own head.
As nice as the intricacies are, however, there are parts that are inconsistent and which detract from the overall immersion. For example, every house is furnished almost identically and the majority share the exact same floor plan too. As such, you have almost no problem navigating each new house that you enter because you already know where everything is!
Another example of small inconsistencies is the 2023 calendars found within said houses. They are all wrong, out by one day. For example, they show the 9th of May 2023 as falling on a Monday when it actually fell on a Tuesday. There is also the fact that people in 2023 appear to be using desktop computers from the 1990s for some reason. There is no sign of any towers under people’s desks nor any flat screen monitors, for that matter. Instead, they all have bases which double up as monitor stands for their enormous pre-millennium CRT monitors instead. (Yes – Cathode-Ray Tube monitors!)
There is also a strange bug that I like to call Infinite Glass. There are some surfaces and walls which are made of glass. If you attempt to break said glass, you will hear the glass smash but visually there will be no change. You can then proceed to break the glass as often as you like, with each strike creating the same glass-smashing sound as the ones before it each time. Despite the apparent insignificance, it is small details like this that pull your attention out of the game and detract from the overall experience.
On some occasions, the NPC/enemy AI left me astounded, but for the wrong reasons. The most notable example of this was when I entered a house that had been occupied by vampires. Upon entering one of the rooms at the top of the house, I looked around and saw a vampire floating in the corner. He was apparently unaware of me as he was busy looking out of the window. I approached him from behind at a walking pace, but he continued to look out at the street below. I then stood next to him and looked up at him – still nothing.
At that point, I too couldn’t help but look out of the window myself, wondering what on Earth it was that could possibly be so interesting out there. I didn’t see anything, so I looked up at him and he was still fixated on the street below, completely oblivious to my presence. I then stood directly in front of him, between his eyes and the window and waited for a few seconds, and I could have sworn that I saw him actually jump as he noticed me.
Where’s my husband?
Other examples are often found in safehouses, specifically manifested within other safehouse inhabitants. Their behaviour is sometimes downright bizarre. In the fire station, for example, I walked into a room where I saw a woman sitting at a desk. She proceeded to introduce herself to me, speaking at length, and finished by saying “…and this is my husband”. There was nobody else in the room. Stranger still was that she was facing away from me the entire time.
More often than not, however, the AI did what it was supposed to do and enabled enemies to detect and battle me in a believable and timely fashion. Most interactions were non-bizarre and went completely normally given the context.
A strange beast
Redfall is a strange beast. Ultimately, it is a fast-paced action adventure that sees you blast through the undead and their servants as they do their best to remove you from existence. The battles look great and most are difficult enough to not be boring, at least when vampires are involved. However, that is only the case when you are lucky enough to encounter enemies in order to take part in said battles in the first place. Redfall is very sparsely-populated and I can’t help but feel that there could have been more characters to interact with along the way. You often find yourself spending more time than you probably should looking for things to do which can lead to tedium.
On this note, the action neither occurs naturally nor spontaneously. You seem to have to initiate encounters yourself almost every time as enemies tend to stick to their dedicated areas. They only tend to engage if and when you enter their respective radius. Abilities, however, are so much fun to use and staking a vampire is a true visual treat, with each execution producing a bright and spectacularly colourful explosion.
Redfall certainly has the components to be a much better game than it currently is. There are several areas which appear incomplete and which you would have expected the quality checks to have picked up on before the game was released. Ultimately, Redfall appears to be in an unfinished/near-finished state, which is a shame because it can be an extremely fun experience if you overlook the silly mistakes. That was it for our Redfall Review.
- Aesthetically pleasing
- Vampires look and sound genuinely terrifying
- Special abilities are fun to use
- Great atmosphere and sound
- Vampire battles are fun
- No manual save option
- Attention to detail could be better
- Not enough to do between battles
- AI is weak
- Human combat is too easy with no real variation
Redfall is currently available through Xbox Cloud Gaming. This review was made by Mus from PapaBear Gaming. You can check out his channel right here. You can follow him on Twitter by going here. That was it for our Redfall review.