Whoooosh! Scientists at Ferrari have already proven that red is the fastest colour (citation needed) and now we finally have videogame confirmation. It’s the year 2560 and the Solar Redout Racing League takes places on different planets to find out who really is the best racer in the galaxy. Is that why we’re here? The game doesn’t really have a story like the glorious cheese of F-Zero GX, unfortunately, so you can race for whatever cause you want. It’s the gameplay that matters, and this offers a slightly new take on the futuristic racing genre.
The controls in Redout are quite different to other futuristic racers, as your ship handles more like an actual plane than a race car. You actually need to use both analog sticks to turn, with the traditional left stick turning having a lot of weight to it. The left stick will start the corner and then you need to adjust weight and pitch with the right stick to actually make it through the corner without drifting wide. It’s a lot more momentum-based compared to a snappy, instant movement of FAST, Wipeout or F-Zero. A lot of surfaces are curved as well and require you to lift up or push down to avoid damage and keep your speed. This can cause you to wiggle left and right, and then further correct that. There is a lot going on in this cockpit.
After just a few races I got used to the idea of the controls and found it pretty enjoyable. It recreates the feeling of a simulation racer at spectacular speeds, which is an interesting balance and a feeling I haven’t had before in a racing game. The constant adjustment actually feels like it gives you more overall control of the vehicle, and you have a lot of chances to “collect” your craft if you enter a corner the wrong way. Being optimal still means hitting the apex and preparing for the corner in advance, but it’s still quite a flexible control scheme. The really slow corners require lifting off the throttle and using much more of the right stick which can feel like you’re going really slow. This took me some getting used to, but when you see that your laptime is good it becomes more natural to lift. The sense of speed is so nice at high speeds that it just makes the slower corners feel a bit underwhelming.
Redout’s biggest strength is also its biggest downfall. The visuals impressed me at first, with a strong framerate and a large amount of track detail. However the game gets so fast that it becomes difficult to see where you are going. The colours all blur together and the background, railings and track surface blend into one. A lot of tracks use the same colours in the surface and background and this just makes it even worse. Then you can add the pixelated screen effect when you take damage, and it’s almost impossible to regain momentum. It feels more like poor optimisation than pure speed at this point. It’s a bit of a shame because some of the later tracks do look very impressive at lower speeds. The music is also pretty bangin’, with a hype europop feel coated with a chill ambience. It’s fast-paced but also calming.
This looks nice but just isn’t very playable. The framerate is stable and the track detail is amazing, but it lacks the crispness of F-Zero or Wipeout that helps those games shine at top speed. This might just be because I’m playing on Xbox One S and the game’s native res is on PC? Just speculation. It does seem to have a similar dynamic resolution technique that Fast RMX had, but that game was designed solely for Switch and still looks optimised. This was designed first for PC then ported to consoles. It also has VR support which I can’t even imagine. Maybe it would add much needed depth to separate the track surface from the background better? That’s all that’s really missing as I find the controls and gameplay to remain consistent. I’ve had some good races in the higher difficulty events but decided to abandon the game because of the visuals. It really gets quite bad to the point I’ve never seen in a racing game before, maybe they just wanted to make an impact.
It could also just be a visual design problem because they don’t contrast the colours enough, and I found the UI to be lacking as well. The UI in general is hard to see even at regular speed, with a very faint white bar showing how much much energy you have. It extends out of the craft at a place that’s just very unnatural to look at, and over some surfaces it’s completely invisible. Instead of looking at the bar I started to “feel” it out instead and time my boosts accordingly, and after a while you can guess how much damage you took from the corner instead of looking. Maybe that’s what they were going for, but then I’d rather not see the boost meter at all.
Visual insanity aside, the game is otherwise very technically competent and has good core controls and a nice satisfying handling model that has a bit more depth than other games of the genre. There are some fun game modes like Boss, which combines 5 layouts of one track environment into one long lap seamlessly. Career Mode features a good mix of Time Trial, Race, Elimination and Instagib which is a daring race where you only get one life. If you can put up with a rough experience and somewhat bland presentation then the game offers some good gameplay and a rewarding difficulty curve. I think the visuals will vary from person to person too, so it’s definitely worth giving this game a try if you like the genre. I got about 10 hours out of it before it became a mess and this seems to be the average playtime on Steam as well. If you have the option then go with the PC version or Xbox One X, the Switch version runs even worse than what I played.
There’s a rather large amount of DLC as well that adds 7 new environments but I couldn’t really justify that myself after seeing the later courses in the main game, it was already getting unplayable. This is coming from someone who beat F-Zero GX Story Mode on Hard and unlocked the AX tracks, if you want a difficulty reference. The difficulty here is more of a game design problem in my opinion. There are 4 speeds of vehicle and Class 1 vehicles are a good way to sample every track. Otherwise I recommend any other futuristic racer that doesn’t fall apart at high speed. Besides the interesting handling and cool game modes, this game doesn’t really have the personality to make up for its shortcomings. There’s no story, no characterisation, and the robotic AI voice in the menu just adds to the monotony. Red might be the fastest colour but Orange gets to the finish line and Big Blue is where I want to be.