Remedium is a twin-stick shooter launching into Steam early access by indie dev Sobaka Studio and publisher ESDigital Games. It uses the same grim post-apocalyptic Renaissance setting as their earlier game released in July this year, the roguelite auto-shooter Remedium: Sentinels. This new game gets some fundamentals right with some great QoL features for the genre. However, there’s very little to recommend in its current early access form with limited features, uninspiring gameplay and enough bugs to damage what little fun might remain.
The options menu is full featured with substantial graphical customisation options to tailor to your setup, optional voiceovers and rebindable hotkeys, but only once you’ve loaded a game, not on the main menu for some reason. Pleasant QoL features like right-clicking to go back to close menus sequentially are always appreciated. The graphics, while not amazing, are mostly fine for a twin-stick shooter and destructible objects shatter satisfyingly, but there aren’t enough of them or other items in the world, leaving everywhere feeling like samey empty rooms and passages. The sound is also adequate and your weapons generally sound meaty which contrasts sharply with how little they impact enemies. The interface works but feels oversized, and the lack of tooltips or a quick menu to consolidate interface elements like the journal, map, known crafts, diseases and so on makes it feel empty and unfinished.
The primary problem in Remedium however is the combat – it just does not feel very good. It lacks impact, movement feels floaty, and the design results in very little challenge even on the highest difficulty. The only deaths I suffered were from falling out of the world or into instant death goop – which is easy to do due to the floaty movement. It’s not *bad* – it’s just not good either, and it’s definitely possible to get it into a better state over the planned six months of early access. The primary weapons don’t feel very good to use, and while the ammo system that consumes reagents improves it (giving you elemental variants similar to how enemies have them), the only real difference and fun to use thing is the grenade.
The grenade, dash, and heal have a unique system of upgrades where you have three tiers of customisations for each of them based on the elemental affinities as you unlock them. You can change the effects of your grenade between a fiery explosion or a long-lasting pool of acid, make your dodge ability blind or melt those you pass through, and so on. This is the best part of the game but even then, isn’t implemented terribly well. You can miss these which can screw you over, and the order they drop in left me completely unable to change my heal for a long time as I had tier 2 and 3 modifiers but not tier 1. The interface to apply these modifiers is quite lacking and you don’t really know what is going on with it. Once applied though, they are the most fun aspects of the game so far… which isn’t saying much sadly.
The enemy types work pretty well with a combination of fast melee that dash around, ranged units that harass you and the occasional big beefy boy that takes some killing. All models have variations on their elemental affinity which can mix the gameplay up somewhat, dodging lightning projectiles – some of which have homing tendencies – is different from acid which pools on the ground or slow but impactful frost balls. It was all trivially dealt with by backpedaling and sidestepping. Enemy variety could definitely be better and it’s especially a problem for bosses – or mini bosses.
It would be the same destroy four nodes that each shoot an elemental attack at you so you can kill the same boss that shoots an elemental attack at you. In no situation, either trash or bosses did I feel threatened. The closest it came to was dodging projectiles that sometimes put me near an instal-kill ledge. The final boss of Act 1, which took about an hour of gameplay to finish, seemed to have one ability, a flying off-the-screen leap slam with no shadow. This meant so you had 0.1 seconds to dodge in time… or take the low damage hit from it. Not the most fun gameplay by far.
There are a number of bugs in the game currently, though none of them have been game-breaking and it should be expected in an early access title. There are a lot of small things like there being a mouse button 4 keybind, but you are not able to make your own mouse button binds. There is a save point with a mini-boss in front of it so when you load your game, you instantly have to face a mini-boss. Combined this with having no armour (an ablative health pool) and it is rough. Tutorials repeat and there are incorrect menu breadcrumbs. It was also annoying supposedly unlocking blueprints regularly but not seeing them show up on the crafting table. It compounds with the poorly explained systems, lack of tooltips, and lack of cohesive interface to just make a mess of things. Oh, and you can kill enemies at long range and they won’t retaliate.
Remedium is not quite a bad game – but it’s definitely not a good game either and it’s a hard pass currently. They have put effort into polishing it as things mostly work as you’d expect them to. The twin-stick action works but isn’t very fun or challenging – the only deaths I suffered were falling off the map or into goop due to the floaty movement. There’s a crafting system but it’s buggy, very bare bones and doesn’t do much. There’s a potentially interesting disease system but it’s not explained at all so you’re left guessing how you get them and how you can cure them. Enemy types are all multiple variants of the same model which is pretty standard, but it gets old here very quickly. The game just isn’t in a place that makes you want to go back and play it more. A lot of work will need to be done in early access to get it to a good spot worthy of purchase, but at least the fundamentals are there in a reasonable state so I’m hoping they can make that happen.
This review utilised a key provided by Stride PR for ESDigital Games and Remedium is available now on Steam early access. A second and third installment are planned for later this year followed by console releases for PlayStation 4|5, Xbox One / Series X|S, and Nintendo Switch in 2024.