Captured on Nintendo Switch (Connected)

When we first loaded up Redemption Reapers, we were wowed by the game’s aesthetic. A dark, gritty tactical RPG with surprisingly engaging cutscenes and haunting music was just what we needed after playing Fire Emblem Engaged. While these strengths never go out of style during this game, they are quickly overshadowed by shortcomings in game design and execution.

Redemption Reapers takes place in a world threatened with being overrun by Mort. These infinitely aggressive, partly savage creatures closely resemble the orcs of the Lord of the Rings and they have almost as much characterization. They come in different forms, each with different skills and abilities to wreak havoc on the battlefield, but most are relatively simple. Stabbing them repeatedly is usually the ticket to victory.

The backstabbing team is the Ashen Hawks Brigade, a group of mercenaries with a score to settle with Mort. The cast is still small for the 20-odd hours it will likely take you to complete the main plot. Each character has a unique skill tree and abilities they can use to protect themselves or deal damage to Death units within range. None of the characters are necessarily bad or boring, but they often feel somewhat one-dimensional. We hear hints of a dark event in his past, but details about it are scarce until much later in the game.

Captured on Nintendo Switch (Handheld/Offline)

You never know where the Dead came from or what they want beyond utter destruction, which means the plot of Redemption Reapers never gets much deeper than moving units around the battlefield. and to hope that the enemies do not invade them. Unfortunately, the game’s other characters aren’t fleshed out much either, making the experience a bit shallow. It would be nice if the gameplay was spectacular, but despite some interesting mechanics, it’s not.

Fans of other tactical RPGs will feel right at home with the basics here. Characters move forward to attack, with different units having different abilities they can trigger on the Dead they encounter. The issue here is how the game is heavily focused on unit placement and engages in hit-and-run tactics wherever you can. Characters can move, attack, and move again, allowing you to place your most durable mercenaries on the front lines while support units move in and out where they can.

Redemption Reapers doesn’t offer permadeath, but most maps only allow you a handful of characters. This makes each essential to keep the economy of action in your favor. Keeping your characters alive is easier said than done, especially in early maps where healing is poor and Ashen Hawks outnumber three times.

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Captured on Nintendo Switch (Connected)

Unfortunately, the balance is not on the side of the Redemption Reapers. The game quickly increases the difficulty. The first five hours of gameplay are particularly frustrating because you don’t have the ability to fight for experience points or money, which means you keep whatever you’ve earned up to that point. An early map took us four different tries, with each run taking around 20 minutes, which quickly sucked the fun out of the game. A hard game is fine, but a bad twist that turns into a full elimination is not good design .

Once you have the ability to go back and replay older maps, the difficulty of the game becomes much more manageable. You will gain experience with each attack you make or survive. Gaining new levels gives you more skill points, which you can use to unlock new abilities and attacks. Everyone’s skill tree is unique, so their roles are largely locked. Urs will always be your tank. Sarah will always be your nimble thug. Glenn will always be your swordsman.

One weird aspect of Redemption Reapers is the visuals. Although the cutscenes on Switch won’t win any awards in their own right, they fit well with the dark setting of the game. The character models look solid and move smoothly in the pre-rendered cutscenes, which makes it all the more bizarre when the action transitions to gameplay and the visuals suffer a substantial downgrade.

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Captured on Nintendo Switch (Handheld/Offline)

Unleashing special attacks on Dead enemies is not having the impact it should due to choppy animations in handheld and docked modes. Even in slow motion, the game feels like it’s struggling right now. Character models are irregular and lack detail or finish. This is in addition to the fact that the camera is locked at such an angle and distance that you can’t always tell what type of unit you’re attacking or even what character you’re sending into melee. Honestly, it looks like the cutscene footage and gameplay are from completely different titles.

The sound is probably the only part of Redemption Reapers that never disappoints. The music has a perfect balance between epic and haunting. Rei Kondoh, who has worked on the music for several Fire Emblem and Okami titles, was in charge of the soundtrack here and does a great job of setting the stage for every moment of the game.

If you can get through the first few hours of gameplay, there’s decent play here. When the combat clicks, there are some really fun tactical elements. Knowing when to use your limited healing items and who to advance in combat is vital, but you’ll often feel like you’re playing the system rather than interacting with it the way the developers intended. As it stands, Redemption Reapers is an unbalanced and uneven experience best bought on sale.


Despite some fun wrinkles in the tactical RPG formula, Redemption Reapers is too frustrating in its early levels to justify the thin plot and underdeveloped characters. The music is the one consistently stellar part of the game, which is let down by the game’s uneven visuals and poor balance. You better look elsewhere for your tactical RPG fix on Switch.

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