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Quick side note: Way of Redemption isn’t a free to play game. I know we usually try to focus on free to play games, and I’m sorry but this is what the higher ups put on my desk, so my hands are tied. Let’s all just be cool about it. Okay? Awesome. Love you. Mean it.

Way of Redemption is a weird hybrid of sports games, action games, and MOBAs. It dropped on both Steam and PS4 on November 7th, and I’ve spent about six hours with it over the last week to see what it’s all about.

Way of Redemption attempts to combine ping-pong, dodgeball, and MOBAs into a cohesive experience and for the most part it works. From an audio and visual standpoint, the game does little to impress. The UI is abysmal, and the game has a jagged, low-resolution look to it that doesn’t look right until a match begins. The voice acting is also dreadful; the judge is the major voice you’ll hear, and you’ll hear a lot of it. The gameplay, however, is where the game shines. It’s surprisingly fun and moves at a pretty fast pace.

When you first boot the game, you’re taken to the home screen and made to click on three boxes representing the game’s three tutorials. These don’t take you to a guided tutorial within the game; instead they open a series of YouTube tabs which all begin playing at the same time. They’re short though, and explain the basics of the game well, so they’re worth watching. Once you’ve clicked on those, you can play the game freely.

The course of a match is simple to follow if you’ve ever played ping-pong, volleyball, or any similar sport. The judge tosses a ball on the field to one side, and you run under the spot to grab it. Once you’re in possession of the ball, you can’t move anymore; a timer begins to quickly tick down indicating your throw power. The faster you throw the ball after catching it, the more power and speed the shot will have. Your goal is to get the ball past your opponent and into their back wall. Each shot does an amount of damage based on your power and type of throw.

The game gives you three different ways to throw the ball as well, not counting abilities. You can curve the shot, which follows the mouse pointer on PC, you can throw a straight shot, your you can lob the ball which will cause it to bounce into the air, forcing your opponent to jump to catch it and return it.

When you don’t have the ball, you have access to a shield ability as well as two other defensive powers that differ by character. These become offensive abilities when you have possession of the ball, and usually grant you another way to shoot. These are useful, so make sure you take time to read your character’s abilities before you jump into a match. These offensive and defensive abilities use mana, represented by a purple bar over your character. It builds as a match progresses, and splits into three stocks.

Your other abilities, like shielding, dashing, and jumping, use your stamina bar, which is the orange bar over your character. You can combine these movement abilities into combos for added power, speed, and potential for a critical hit on your shot. For example, you can activate your shield and dash in front of a shot to bounce it into the air, jump, and spike the ball to make it bounce much higher and faster for bonus damage. These kinds of combos are essential to learn if you want to win.

You play these matches in a best of three format. Before each round, you’re given two talent points to spend on your offensive and defensive abilities. These points help you to augment your character to suit a specific strategy or playstyle so don’t just pick them blindly.

Way of Redemption features a cast of 7 heroes to play right now. Korban is a strong defensive character and a recommended character for beginners. He is a champion of the Greek pantheon of Gods. His skills include a massive shield wall which can reflect shots and increase their power against his opponent, as well as a flaming arrow and a lightning storm that both stun and power up shots.

Ryunosuke is a champion of the Japanese pantheon. He can teleport, make duplicates of himself, and fire multiple shots at the same time in exchange for slightly reduced damage.  He’s a tricky character, but by far not the hardest to play.

Mendelae is a Zurg queen, and I want to say, “not those Zurg” but they basically ripped them straight out of Starcraft entirely. She can silence other players temporarily and use a zurg rush to deal damage and trip up the enemy players. The fact that this game has the nerve to talk about a Zurg rush like it’s something original they came up with is kind of mind-blowing, but that’s another story for another day.

Pryckon is a sarcastic drunk robot who has entered the competition to prove that he’s better than everyone else. He’s much slower than other characters, forcing him to rely on his dash more. He makes up for this with his shot patterns though. He can create magnetic fields that explode and damage the enemy, create support droids, and throw barrels as well.

Ylwa is the representative of the Norse pantheon, and is a demigod bitten by Fenrir. She can shoot ice arrows that slow and stun constantly, and can even summon a giant ice wolf head to allow her to shoot in waves.

Zythrall constructs pylons that attract enemies as well as summoning mechanical slaves to repair his portal. On offense he can build structures in front of the enemy portal to increase the damage of his shots and enter a rapid-fire mode temporarily.

Darcy is the champion chosen by the Slavic gods, and is a cursed vampire. She can leech mana and stamina from enemies, fear them which forces them to run around uncontrollably, and even steal health from the enemy portal to heal her own.

Way of Redemption features a loot box system, but you can only purchase these with currency won from playing the game right now. There is a second currency which is probably a cash currency, but there is no use for this currency in the game right now, and absolutely no sign of what you could use it for in the future.

Chests mostly contain this mysterious second currency, as well as unique quick chat commands and avatars for your profile. You’re also rewarded with a chest every five levels, so getting them is easy enough. I did find it strange that the game features no monetization right now, but it is a buy-to-play game, so that must have a lot to do with it.

The game also features cosmetic items for each of the characters, but there is no way to currently unlock them. They have no price associated with them, and every attempt I’ve made to buy one has given me the same error message. We’ll post an update on this feature once it’s implemented over on, so keep your eyes on the website for more news about that.

If Way of Redemption looks like something you want to jump into, you can go grab the game on Steam or on the Playstation Store for Playstation 4 now. It’ll cost you $14.99, which isn’t bad for a fun diversion. Personally, it’s not the type of game I see myself coming back to over and over, but if you’re seriously into arcade style sports games, you’ll enjoy it.

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