As much as we want Arkane Studios to return to the Dishonored franchise, this great team has consistently demonstrated that it may be better off exploring new opportunities. Prey and Deathloop have been a huge success for this hypothesis, and the studio’s latest venture, Redfall, appears to be just as promising.
We recently spoke with Arkane Austin’s studio director, Harvey Smith, and co-creative director, Ricardo Bare, to discover more about this vampire-slaying adventure.
“We’re taking on a massive creative challenge,” Smith explains. “We hope to maintain Arkane’s basic creative ideals while undertaking an open-world game.” It will still have the rich narrative design that we are known for accompanying every square inch.”
The first image we see of Redfall, Massachusetts demonstrates the strong storytelling focus. The seabed around this island is arid, with fishing boats strewn across parched dunes leading up to colonial-style dwellings. It all contributes to the illusion of a vibrant society. An obscured sun hovers over the city, the result of vampires’ dark power, which allows them to freely roam the streets and hunt the living.
You must first choose a character before beginning your investigation into Redfall. Each has a different story to tell and approaches vampire-killing in a different way. Layla Ellison is a biomedical engineer who agreed to participate in an experiment and awoke with telekinetic abilities. Jacob Boyer is a former military sharpshooter who prefers to hunt in the shadows. He has the ability to summon a phantom raven. Remi de la Rosa takes on the duty of battle engineer, but she is never alone thanks to her robot pal Bribón. Devinder Crousley, a prominent internet personality who has arrived in Redfall to show vampires exist, is the oddest character. He enters the conflict with Tesla-like weapons of his own design.
These characters advance in level, learn new skills, and seek better weaponry. Redfall, like all Arkane games, is a single-player adventure, but it also enables four-player cooperative play, a first for Arkane. If you and your friends prefer to play this way, you can bring all four characters to the fight.
“Imagine you and me picking Devinder characters and teaming up to play together,” Bare explains. “By the time we’re 10 hours into the game, my Devinder will most likely be different from yours. I used my skill points on various items and dress up like a fireman.”
In addition to fulfilling missions to advance the plot, players must reclaim the city from the vampires. Redfall is divided into two large districts, each with its own set of neighborhoods and player base.
“We chose communal dwellings on purpose,” Smith continues. “The first one is a fire station.”
A special assignment lets you to liberate a settlement, making the region more navigable. Taking territory has consequences, but Smith and Bare refused to say what they are.
We discover what all four characters are capable of in various gameplay segments set around the city’s streets and buildings, as well as how Redfall’s conflicts promote varying methods, such as sneaky sniping from rooftops or alerting enemies to create a cluster for an electrical blast. Vampires are not the romantic type found in most fiction, but rather the result of science. They float, dash in your direction or out of a storm of fire, and cut at you with their claws. In one scene, a customized pink rifle connects with a vampire, sending sparks flying off its body before bursting in a hail of fire and ash. In another, a character carefully shouts out a “blood bag,” which is a vampire with massive, throbbing blood bags on its back. The sacks detonate, and the blood scent immediately attracts a horde of vampires.
Character and surroundings visual design is akin to Dishonored’s realistic yet somewhat cartoony style. Especially if the themes are grim, the world is vivid, even at night. All of the characters can sprint, jump, sneak, and climb, but they each have unique traversal abilities. Layla can construct an old-fashioned lift to reach higher ground. She can also summon a teammate. Devinder possesses the ability to translocate.
Arkane has a flair for flipping genres and providing new experiences. Redfall’s run-and-gun action appears conventional at first glance but rapidly changes tone as the characters demonstrate their wild powers.