Previously known as Red Wukong but for some reason rebranded as Redick, this 3D action platformer features a main character clearly inspired by the popular novel Journey to the West, but for some reason any ties to Sun Wukong seem to be slight or completely erased from existence. The resemblances between both characters are very clear, and despite running on Unreal Engine 5, this game is lacking in so many aspects that not even the old-school gameplay slogan is enough to save it from triviality.
A Slight Case of Paragon
Contrary to the ambitious 2010 game Enslaved: Odyssey to the West developed by Ninja Theory, Redick is a mismatched and rough affair that not even the early access branding or the fact that it’s a solo developer’s work is capable of saving. It uses assets from Epic Games’ ill-fated MOBA Paragon, one of the various titles doing so, but that doesn’t translate into a good-looking game, quite on the contrary.
The first impressions aren’t the best; Redick seems to be a resource hog, even when the recommended requirements aim for a humble configuration. Nonetheless, unless your computer is recent, a trip to the graphics options is almost warranted. By then, you may have realized that Redick not so much runs as he slides across the ground, and there’s this idea that his movement is in fast-forward, such is the speed at which he zips around, forsaking any attempt of precision in the process. For a game where accurate treading is of utmost importance, where a misdirected jump equals backtracking that can last for several minutes – assuming no other mistakes are made – this is a sizable issue. It’s not that the jumps are exactly pixel-perfect; it’s that the overall design is so inaccurate that everything seems to be struggling against your efforts.
Add to these unforgivable platform sections a fixed camera angle, a limitation that will result in many failures and disappointment. It’s not just important to check your surroundings in case an enemy is approaching unnoticed, but also to look around for the right path, something that isn’t always entirely obvious. The platformer bits end up being the final nail in the coffin, resulting in catastrophe and a strong urge to throw the gamepad to the screen… but don’t do that, just breathe and try those jumps again.
Or don’t. You feel on the edge – literally – all the time, as if one slight nudge on the thumb stick could suddenly make Redick fall to a previous section of the map, forcing you to painstakingly find your way all over again. It’s unwise design, and utterly not enjoyable to play.
Besides being an adept of jumping, Redick is also a fighter. Or at least he tries, but again, these mechanics are ultimately flawed. Our hero uses his trademark staff, but the movements are clunky, and the way hits connect is dire and don’t convey any pleasant sensations at all. Additional actions such as parrying, ducking, or even jumping on enemies’ heads aren’t polished enough to feel consequential, and the disconnect between our actions and the enemy reaction is too palpable to ignore.
Clearly, Redick’s mechanics are unsound and not entertaining, being frustrating since the very first minutes. In terms of the Unreal Engine 5-powered graphics, with many of the assets originally belonging to Paragon, these are above average… that is, if you love your rock textures after rock textures, and have a passion for tedious metallic grates; otherwise, it’s a bland and repetitive mess that makes you feel numb for the most part of your journey. Not even the main character can be saved, as he looks utterly ugly up close. The ruins and green pastures of later levels don’t do much to uplift the overall quality, as they also look mind-numbingly unoriginal.
The hard-rock soundtrack tries hard but quickly becomes jarring with all the noisy riffs, when you’re just trying to concentrate in order to make it across another succession of ill-designed jumps on the top of the world.
Journey to Nowhere
Asking $19.99 for this early access version seemed like quite the stretch, and so I decided to investigate how many players were willing to give it a go, nearly a month after its launch: two. Two players. I’m probably one of those two.
Despite the semantics above, it’s easy to conclude that Redick is not a good game; it’s not even an average game. When I failed the jump on those suspended wagons and moving platforms for the umpteenth time, I started wondering why I kept trying, as the core mechanics felt flawed beyond saving. This may not be the case, and hopefully I’ll be proven wrong when the game exits early access, but right now, this is something of an unavoidable journey to frustration.
- Er… Some textures look good…
- An unoptimized resource hog
- Flawed movement and unexciting combat
- Unfriendly map design forcing you to backtrack a lot
- Absence of camera rotation
- No real redeeming qualities