Hands on with Road Redemption, a motorcycle combat racer coming to Xbox One and Windows

Many games that succeeded on Kickstarter have been sequels to classic games that had languished in obscurity for years: Wasteland 2, Broken Sword 5, and several more long-wished-for sequels owe their lives to Kickstarter. And then you have spiritual successors like Shroud of the Avatar and Underworld Ascendant, which are sequels in all but name to beloved past games.

Road Redemption is one such game. During the Sega Genesis and early 32-bit days, Road Rash was a popular combat racing series. But Electronic Arts hasn't released a Road Rash game since 2003, leaving fans of the series without their fix of fantasy motorcycle violence. Luckily, New Orleans-based indie developer Darkseas Games is currently hard at work on its own modern motorocycle combat game called Road Redemption.

Road Redemption is already available on Steam Early Access and will be coming to Xbox One, Playstation 4, and Wii U later this year. Read on for my detailed impressions and our developer interview and gameplay video!

Gear up and hit the road

The developers plan to revamp Road Redemption's campaign between now and the final release, but the in-progress version available on Steam offers a fairly substantial campaign already.

To start with, players will choose a bike and a rider. There are five bikes at present, each with its own stats such as acceleration and durability that can be upgraded during gameplay. Besides traditional nondescript riders, Redemption has a few unique ones like a Jack-o-Lantern and Shovel Knight (star of his own indie game).

Once you've made your choices, you'll embark on a cross-country campaign of racing and destruction. The game procedurally generates the tracks, so they're different every time you play. Environments that I've seen so far include deserts, canyons, snow-covered forests, and cities – all the same stuff you'd see in Road Rash. Actually, the city races take place on rooftops, which changes things up a lot; we'll get to that in a bit.

Road Redemption Steam Early Access

Race and rage

Road Redemption offers several types of events throughout the campaign. Races require you to place in the top three, some missions task you with beating up a certain number of opponents, and so on. Whether your goal is to come in first or something else, the combat is this game's standout feature.

Your rider starts out with at least one weapon, but he can carry several and switch between them on the fly. Some of the melee weapons I've seen include bats, golf clubs, shovels, crowbars, swords, and more. As you come across other rides, you're free to whack away at them on either direction. Don't feel bad; they're trying to do the same to you!

Road Redemption Steam Early Access

Your rider can also kick at enemies, which proves quit amusing when you knock them off a bridge or into oncoming traffic. The deflect button lets you block oncoming attacks, but I usually focus on offense over defense.

On top of the standard Road Rash-style melee weapons and kicks, Road Redemption goes wild with ranged weapons and explosives. From time you time your rider can pick up a shotgun or Uzi and go to town on the other races. This involves aiming a reticule while driving, which can be tough to do effectively. But if you get someone lined up in your gun's sights, they won't stand a chance.

My favorite weapon (though also challenging to use) is the bomb. Bombs resemble melee weapons in that you must be right next to an enemy to use them. Just stick a bomb onto another rider and it will go off a few seconds later, knocking him out of the race. The challenge comes from trying to get away from the "stickied" enemy. I usually take some damage from the blast, but it's a fun regardless.

Road Redemption Steam Early Access

One life to race

Road Rash was always a highly challenging game, and Redemption retains some of that unforgivingness by only allotting players a single life for each campaign playthrough. Whatever upgrades you purchase between races will be lost if you die, so you have to watch your health and buy refills when the opportunity presents itself.

Luckily, the one-life system here isn't the bad kind, it's the good kind – à la Rogue Legacy. At the end of your playthrough, all of the experience you earned can be spent on actual permanent upgrades that carry over between playthroughs. These include upgrades to health, damage, and much more.

Road Redemption Steam Early Access

Multiplayer

Road Redemption supports split-screen co-op for up to four players during the campaign (using multiple controllers and/or a keyboard). Split-screen support is quite unusual in a PC game, though not so uncommon in consoles. Many of the old Road Rashes offered split-screen, so it will be great to sit down on the couch with friends and race together once again.

Much as many of us love local multiplayer, modern racing games also beg for online support. Online racing is so ubiquitous within the genre, it would be difficult for an offline-only racer to compete. Thankfully Darkseas plans to add online multiplayer in the near future.

As far as multiplayer goes, I'm hoping the developers will throw in a separate multiplayer mode and game types. Teaming up during the campaign mode is great, but we should also be able to select an environment/track and game type outside of campaign and play a quick match or two.

Road Redemption Steam Early Access

Still some rash on this road

I'm not sure whether the current Early Access version of Road Redemption is considered alpha or beta, but it does have some obvious issues that need to be addressed by launch. For one, all of the UI, loading screens, and menus within the campaign itself look fairly awful and low resolution. The races themselves are fine, but the game needs to connect them more smoothly and attractively.

One of the campaign's most exciting innovations – its rooftop races – also proves one of its weakest points. Driving across a series of interconnected rooftops, catching air from ramps as you hop to distant buildings is certainly exciting at its core. But it's far too easy to fall off and into the abyss below. Once you do, the game takes too long to put you back on the track. One fall just about guarantees a loss.

Road Redemption's basic racing controls and the focus on combat just don't mix very well with unforgiving track design. If Darkseas doesn't drastically improve the rooftop races by launch, they will seriously drag down an otherwise solid racer.

Finally, Redemption currently lacks two big features from Road Rash 3D: pedestrians and female racers. Maybe I could live without innocent people to run over, but female characters are important in this era of gaming equality.

Road Redemption Steam Early Access

Keeping the torch alive

Road Rash was a fantastic series with a unique mix of arcade-style racing, combat, and attitude. There was really nothing else like it, until now. Even in its current unpolished state, Road Redemption captures the look and feel of EA's long slumbering series. Pounding enemy racers here feels just as good as ever, and Redemption looks very good by downloadable game standards as well.

Darkseas Games' current focus is finishing up the Steam version of Road Redemption, which will likely take a few months. After they knock the lead version out, it will be time to polish off the Xbox One, Playstation 4, and Wii U games (previous gen consoles are also a possibility). Hopefully the road to Redemption on consoles will not be a long one. I'm ready to hit the pavement and bust a few heads!

If you just can't wait, check out the Early Access version on Steam.

  • Road Redemption – Windows and Mac – $19.99 – Steam Link

Paul Acevedo is the Games Editor at Windows Central. A lifelong gamer, he has written about videogames for over 15 years and reviewed over 350 games for our site. Follow him on Twitter @PaulRAcevedo. Don’t hate. Appreciate!

62 Comments
  • Looks fun.
  • Ikr ! Looks so real
  • Seems fast... Wonder what the price will be on the One.
  • I have been wanting a game like this, so good to know, now I just want the game details to be high and probably closer to Trials, look forward to it. Will get day one.
  • Lumia Camera 5 review please!!
  • I believe they already did one.
  • I saw the review on pocketnow I don't think WC did a review.
  • They did it.
  • I'm not overly happy with Lumia camera 5, it has actually made me stop using the Lumia camera app.
  • And that's because?
  • System requirements for pc!
  • It's already on steam
  • Wow...
  • Hell yes!Loved Road Rash on my PC ~8 years ago. :D
  • I remember that... Wow
  • +1
  • Played on my Playstation One I think :) loved the game
  • Ha! I played it on my og PlayStation a couple weeks ago. I was showering my daughter it for the first time. I also have it for my Sega Genesis. I really don't understand why there isn't at least a port for Xbox Live Arcade. EA is skipping on this one big time.
  • I have the original on Panasonic 3DO... Literally one of a few games I hunted the console down for. I should pick up the 3D versions that hit OG PlayStation. Oh, also have it on Genesis. This game will definitely fill a void.
  • The 3DO version was so amazing back in the day. I never played the PS port or the game that came after, sadly.
  • That's right. I totally forgot about the 3DO version. That's actually where I played it first. My best friend had one and we would play it all the time. Those were the days. I really should pick up a 3DO console.
  • Sssswwweeeettt! Loved Road Rash back in the day & always wondered what happened to it .... I'm sooooo getting this!
    My favorite weapon was the Baseball Bat with Barbwire wrapped around it, it was ... Bloody lol.
    Quick question Paul, are the Cops still around? (both cars and bikes)
  • Yeah, forgot to work it in but you fight the cops and eventually the military!
  • Awesome!!!
  • wow nice Road Rash copy, at least that was a really good game to play. demo or full. hope this is good as well and make it nice just like Road Rash many years ago. I would get it, but I don't like Steam so... I can't I guess? anyway, I can always go back and play road rash. nothing will replace that game
  • What's wrong with Steam?
  • Exactly the shit I want ... Yayy
  • Looking good, but is it available on android and will it come to WP
  • It didn't come to wp....it came to windows
  • Good question... This says Windows, but there isn't any clarification that it will come to WP...
    ...............
    I don't think we should be applying the Universal concept until we're sure it's heavily in place, and that such a large percentage of apps are universal that we can assume that Windows means the ENTIRE platform....
    ...........
    In other words, until the universal app theory has proven to work we should still be questioning which specific platforms apps will be available on... Seeing that W10 isn't even officially available as final product,, this idea should show to be supremely reasonable versus basing availability on false assumptions that Windows means PC/XB/Tab/Phone....
  • One crucial element you're missing though: This isn't an app, it's on Steam. Device categories still have to be held to x86 and ARM categories (to start with). Windows 10 kernel across devices doesn't mean every program everywhere.
  • Can someone say Road Rash
  • Road Rash ;). Such a sweet game.
  • The game will be available for PS4 too, so change the title of the article to include PS4.
    I know this is "Windows" Central, but still! Facts are facts! Duh!
  • By reading the title I thought it was exclusive to Xbox and windows.
  • We're a Windows site so we're not worried about platforms that we don't cover. Main thing is the headline has a hard limit to how long it can be, and I couldn't have fit in another system even if I wanted to. But it's mentioned in the article itself, obviously.
  • on mac rubbish.
  • Road Rash 2 for the Sega Genesis, there are no game comparisons.
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=7-9wbWYFeWE
  • This is also coming to Wii U, which will be the system I purchase it on.
  • I was one of the kickstarter backers for this game so I got alpha access. Darksea put ALOT of focus on the riding & combat (and even debating on whether to include counter-steering). Their hard work is starting to pay off as the game has come a LONG way since the first releases. It's a real joy to play.
  • Looks like a fun local split screen game
  • Re-volt.... My wish for the 360 and now the One. Truly loved that racing game.
  • Awesome to see a local developer group developing for the masses. Well def be checking this out.
  • Yep, I thought of you when I wrote this! :)
  • Coming to Xbox One and WHAT?
    What is this Windoze they're talking about?
    It's not for serious gaming, is it?
  • Depends on who you ask!
  • @Paul Acevedo:
    I have an idea whom to ask...
    [Looking at you, Microsoft!]
  • "but female characters are important in this era of gaming equality." Why only female!! Trigender, Transgender, Cisgender, ​etc are just as important and should all be represted in every game. Please atleast mention there are other genders, just to be fair, thanks
  • That's a bigger can of worms. Transgender people often consider them female anyway, as I understand it. Point is, you can't only have dudes in a game with character selection and/or creation.
  • as a motorcyclist, this is something ive been waiting for.  motoGP is a borefest.
  • Yeaaaah ! Great memories...
  • Why does motorcycling always have to be paired with causing mischief and mayhem? I wish we had a Forza-like game for motorcycles that's about the racing and racing only.