Darksea Games has been hard at work on their Kickstarted reboot of the classic Road Rash in the form of the spiritual successor known as Road Redemption. They recently sent Gaming Blend an updated game code for the early alpha build of Road Redemption – and by alpha build, I mean an actual alpha build, not the “fake” alpha builds that the public partakes in with games like Battlefield Hardline or Destiny, where those games are about two or three months out from shipping after being in development for anywhere between three and five years.
The updated version of Road Redemption for PC features a brand new split-screen option for up to four simultaneous players via game controllers. It's as chaotic and mayhem-filled as you might expect.
I suppose I should talk about the one bad thing first and then get around to the good parts. The one bad thing – and it's rather limited, so there's no need to bite your nails in deep, anxious anticipation – is that the physics are still a little weird when it comes to the bike handling. I basically mentioned this in passing in my original first impressions piece from a while back; but simply saying the “physics are weird” is a blanket statement that doesn't at all convey to gamers how they're weird. So I'll explain it a bit.
When controlling the bike it doesn't feel as if you, the player-character, have proper weight on the bike. The bikes have excellent response timing and react at the flick of a button, yet the movement of the bike feels very floaty in its turning. The grip is solid when scaling up and down the vertical geometry of the levels, but it's the lateral movements that feel disjointed. It comes across as if the bikes either slide or float from left to right, as opposed to distributing weight from one side of the bike to the other in a realistic and smooth fashion.
You can briefly see what I'm talking about in the video below, courtesy of Matt Derosie.
I imagine with more fine-tuning to the animations and handling this will be resolved by release.
However, I should note that despite mentioning wonky physics with the turning/handling, the game seems to be setup perfectly for momentum-based combat. Going fast, dodging cars, weaving in and out of traffic and taking turns at death-inducing speeds – all while still being able to swing a katana or a baseball bat with Victor Martinez-level accuracy – is exceptionally satisfying.
The combat is still one of the most polished parts of the game and feels very thorough and fleshed out for what it is. The accompanying sound effects are also brilliant as they perfectly convey the exact measure of hurt that each biker dishes out on a competing rival.
The traffic has also received a bit of tweaking – I haven't been able to play as much as I would like, but some of the changes to the way the traffic behaves are quite obvious. Traffic crashes feel way more impactful and the physics and visual aesthetics of the crashes look great.
So what does the traffic AI and crashes have to do with anything? Well, everything; it adds a lot of immersion and atmosphere to the gameplay, as well as ratchets up the intensity of the race, especially with multiple players causing massive accidents all over the road.
That's right, Road Redemption will sport four-player split-screen options for local play as well as online multiplayer for people who like keeping the television all to themselves.
What's more is that the team is working on a mode where each player will have their own stable of NPC riders on their side to create a sort of meta-game where players will be competing against each other as well as the stable of other NPC riders in a multi-team race. Imagine NASCAR on bikes with lead pipes.
As for how well the game handles in split-screen... it handles really well. The game, in fact, seems to be built to be an aggressive multiplayer experience. The unpredictable nature of other players adds an entirely new dynamic layer to the overall replay factors, which is exactly what a game like this needs.
Right now I think the only major gripe that any player might have is with the way the bikes move laterally across the road. Otherwise, the game is shaping up to be pretty awesome and once the physics get hammered out a bit more this could easily become one of the best competitive racing games on the market. I imagine backers must be very impressed so far.
You can learn more about Road Redemption by paying a visit to the game's official website. We'll continue to provide you updates on the game as they become available.