In ‘No Pay 2 Play’, we review free video games (whether they’re riddled with microtransactions and season passes or not) and then answer the golden question: is it worth adding to your game library?
Developed and published by Enki. Released in May 2019. Available on Steam. Achievements and trading cards not included.
Is it really free?
What’s it all about?
Just when you thought you dug all the way to the bottom of Steam’s game library, rifling through countless low-priced, poor-quality games that make you question whether quality control was ever implemented in Valve’s digital shop, then something like Pew Dew Redemption, featuring YouTube celebrity Felix “PewDiePie” Kjellberg, pops out at you. No amount of memes or ironic, self-aware humour could make a game of this caliber enjoyable in any way.
The premise is unashamedly inspired by the rivalry between Pewds and T-Series, two channels competing to see who will get 100 million subscribers first. A supernatural voice named Enki (yes, the developer pulled off a self-insert) guides the leader of the Bro Army in his attack against T-Series, whom of which have conquered the world and is attempting to censor the internet’s independent content creators. You’ll be force-fed exposition in the form of unskippable, poorly-spelled dialogue exchanges and random sound bites of the man himself. When the characters start talking to one another, you’re annoyingly glued to the spot.
Good lord, is this game ugly. PewDiePie looks like the lovechild of two random NPCs from Half-Life and The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. The animations are janky, the environments are uninspired, and the lighting is consistent at times. You’ll come across some rooms that are pitch-black, while others are insanely bright. If you’re hoping to tweak any of the game’s settings, though, think again. You can’t pause or save the game. To its merit, it does have a tolerable soundtrack, with plenty of guitars and synths.
Describing Pew Dew Redemption as a hack-’n’ slash game would be a heretical statement, considering how shallow and unsatisfying combat is. PewDiePie can swing his P-shaped weapon slowly, or toss a seemingly-infinite supply of swivel chairs which pass through everything, occasionally dishing out damage. While the controls are simple enough, Pewds will only attack in the direction he’s facing, so that means you’re moving the camera around in order to get him to successfully hit an enemy. Also, he jumps ten-feet in the air, because reasons.
The levels are painstakingly-linear. All that’s required is to follow the corridors and passages until you find a lift. Robots will attempt to swarm you, but they’re about as life-threatening as drops of rain. Most of their attacks won’t even hit you, let alone dent your health. There are three kinds of bad guys: sword-bots, swordless bots, and bigger variations of the latter. The big’uns are the ones you need to defeat in order to get the elevator doors to open up. You can also destroy the automatons subscribing to the monolithic channel with multiple fake accounts, not like this has an impact on anything.
There is no final boss or grand conclusion that redeems the experience. The core of T-Series is conveniently surrounded by boxes of TNT that were likely left behind by some lazy delivery man from Acme Inc. All you need to do is to smash it for about a minute while the company’s mechanical henchmen do little to stop you. Beating the game in its entirety will take no more than 20 minutes, with no additional modes or replayability. Upon wasting your time completing it, the developer will congratulate you for your efforts in a cutscene, and encourages you to subscribe to their own YouTube channel (you can do that here). Maybe Enki should’ve just used bots to sub to him, like T-Series.
Boring, ugly, and simply not nearly as funny or satirical as it makes itself out to be, it should come as a surprise to no one that Pew Dew Redemption is a steaming bucket of rancid garbage. Not even hardcore fans of da Pewdz will ironically get a kick out of it, or would want to replay it. One question remains, however: how can a free-to-play game still make you feel ripped off?