Thursday, April 12

Review: Streets of Red - Devil's Dare Deluxe [Nintendo Switch eShop]


As a massive fan of classic arcade beat-em-ups and roguelikes seeing the two combined, in theory, would instantly make for a must-have game. That said, balancing is a tricky thing and so is diversity of play. Put all together this makes Streets of Red a tough game for me to settle my thoughts on. While it has many things going for it there are also some classic genre problems that plague it to a degree, making it a fun title but not one without some weaknesses.


In the beginning set at the terrifyingly familiar BAX East, it seems that the zombie apocalypse has started and that your intrepid pack of cosplay nerds turned heroes are determined to survive. Making your way through a variety of pretty familiar genre staple environments such as the sewers, a subway station, and more, you’ll fight against zombie foes ranging from the more straightforward to somewhat unique. Each stage is then capped off with a fight against a typically formidable boss, who you’ll need to carefully work out your plan of attack for since they can range from tough to outright lethal… and sometimes a bit cheap. As you complete each stage you’ll then have the opportunity to choose your perk, and there’s quite a wide variety that you’ll get to choose from randomly. What choices you get and which you choose can have a pretty major effect on your success or lack thereof in any given run, so you should always consider them carefully and try to pick ones that suit your style or compensate for your weaknesses.


What you’ll find as you play is that while you can certainly work through enemies one by one the key to success is getting them into groups and killing multiples at once. This has two benefits that are crucial. First, it increases the amount of money you’ll collect per enemy you kill. Since your perks, and even the ability to continue, revolve around how much money you have this is absolutely essential. Second, and possibly more vital, is that if you’re able to kill 3 or more enemies at once progressively better healing will drop as well. Especially later in the game in order to survive you’ll find it is crucial to maximize the opportunities like this that the game affords you. You should also always follow the first rule of beat-em-ups, to destroy anything you see in the hopes of some reward and to do your best to conserve healing, not just immediately picking it up since you’ll waste it if you’re already topped up. These tactics, combined with decent perk choices and your general base skills, will greatly affect how well you do.


Unfortunately, in some regards it is those same tactics that can be so effective that they can turn the game towards repetition. With the way your special meter charges up and is depleted at different rates for different attacks, while you’ll initially want to experiment to find what works best for you with each character, you’ll usually end up working into a pretty set pattern of attacks when dealing with foes. While you’ll obviously need to switch up your style to contend with the different enemy types and the way they attack and move, the goal is still to collect them together and then finish them off all at once. Repetition, no doubt, has always been a problem that has plagued beat-em-ups so none of this is a particular surprise. Just while the roguelike and combo elements layered into Streets of Red have made for a more complex game this mechanic, in some ways, ended up looping back around to the same problem but with different details. You always have the option to play how you like but the pretty intense difficulty and finality of dying in the game without enough money to continue serve to make being efficient and maximizing your opportunities very important to survival.


All said there’s a lot to like about Streets of Red if you’re a fan of either of the genres that it has put together. It has a great classic feel that has been supplemented with some modern flair, each character plays quite differently, and if you’re able to get some friends together it can be a lot of fun. Two characters that unlock on top of the base 4 you start with provide for a great excuse to play through the game multiple times to see if you’ve got what it takes when you switch things around a bit and since there are so many different perks in the game you’re likely to want to try out different combinations to see how they play out as well. Though it may be too tough for more casual gamers and may steer you in the direction of some cheesy repetition to be successful there’s still plenty of content and style for genre fans to enjoy.

Score: 8

Pros:
  • A diverse set of characters to choose from
  • Random perk options ensure no 2 runs are necessarily alike
  • Tons of geek fan service everywhere
  • Who knew that beating up an android Jim Sterling could be so satisfying?

Cons:
  • The difficulty mixed with roguelike sensibilities could make it too brutal for some
  • Tactics that are effective for survival can end up feeling cheap and repetitive at times