“My entire life I suppose. How old am I now? God, like it even matters anymore, what’s the point of keeping track when you’re just running down the clock? I can hear them scrabbling about out there, in the mist, the damned impenetrable mist, I can always hear them. I can’t get that note out of my head. Is it even worth the risk of trying to get to the top of the Solar Cathedral? … Fuck it, maybe for once in my life I can finally know what it’s like to not be alone.”
REDO! by Robson Paiva (@REDO_99 on Twitter) is a rare form of pixel-art metroidvania. In a genre flooded with by-the-numbers takes on its foundational forays, REDO! focuses on an aspect all too often lost in the flurry of power-ups, backtracking, and pixel-perfect combat: patience. With limited health and even more limited ammunition for the few scarce weapons you come across, every single fight feels like you’re running down a silently ticking clock, running down health, running down ammo, running down your chances for survival second by second. If you’re smart, you’ll pay attention, memorize attack loops, whether stunning your enemy makes them easier or an even greater threat, whether it’s worth the risk of stunning them to refill your ammunition and health by a fraction of their totals, or if you should try to dash through and past the biosynthetic horrors, if you even can.
Beyond the mechanics, you find yourself presented with a dark and, at times, Lovecraftian world resplendent with the aforementioned biosynthetic horrors, corpses of those that tried to wait it out like you have your entire life, statues of dark gods with even darker secrets, and Dolls — consumer commodities of the now-dead world, freed of their shackles and none-too-pleased with having had them imposed by humans like yourself for countless years before the end.
Whether ambivalent, uncaring, or filled with rightful indignation, the Dolls are the closest things to humans left anymore, a facsimile of a humanity that you have never known. Maybe the world is better off without us, our tendencies to extract value, make our lives easier, and sate our darkest desires on entities we’ve created to fulfill only those base and inhumane drives bringing the world to the ruin of our own creation. In the end, was any of this ever worth it?
All you have is a note and the hope that at the top of the Solar Cathedral you might find another human who has managed to survive this long, like you have, by scrounging the scraps of this dead world built to sate our every whim, offering now only cold sterility and death.
REDO! is a gem, filled with the staples of its genre but subverting the expectations of their implementation, punishing recklessness, rewarding patience, and leaving you not only with the sensation that this world is overtly hostile, but that your life hangs by a single delicate thread that can be severed in a moment, dropping you into a ravenous gaping maw.
In the end, will the hope be worth it? Or will you find nothing, again, loneliness and futility folding back in on itself like a kaleidoscope of darkness and isolation?
Join the protagonist in her lovecraftian nightmare and find your own answer to whether it’s better to survive on the refuse of the apocalypse or be swept away with the rest of humanity.
Mx. Medea is a writer, artist, and editor who spends most of their time drawing things with squares and buried under a small pile of endless paper copy. When not working they can be found playing everything from interesting indie fare to oldschool games. You can find them, their art, and their opinions @Mx_Medea on Twitter.