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Remedium Sentinels – Review

Auto-shooters are a genre that’s exploded in the last year or so (thanks Vampire Survivors) and whilst I’m very much enjoying the genre, its become quite saturated quite quickly. Remedium Sentinels is a game that stands out with its HP Lovecraft meets steampunk mech aesthetic and theming. Whilst its gameplay loop starts off well, it doesn’t offer anything especially new as you progress.

There are several mechs to choose from in the game, although only one is available at the start. The mechs can largely be put into three classes. Ones with a stabby attack, ones with a slow but powerful mortar attack and ones with a spinning disc saw to start with. The other twist is that each mech has health and movement stats and a few other a bonus trait that gives you an initial extra twist. It is movement speed you need to consider most with Remedium Sentinels though because as each 15 minute run you undertake progresses, enemy hoards get larger and faster. If you don’t invest in speed, you’ll get overwhelmed no matter weapon you have.

If you play long enough, you’ll end up with all the weapons unlocked. Be prepared to grind though.

The other thing I found was that it didn’t really matter much what weapons you started with – you get offered all of them pretty much in every run anyway.

As you kill enemies, around half of them drop XP orbs to collect and that will level up your mech to choose from some randomly generated upgrades from what’s available in game. Almost all the weapons can be picked and then upgraded as they auto fire at enemies. Each weapon can get five upgrades so you need to be tactical around choosing more weapons or investing in the ones you have already but if you can outrun everything, you can game the system somewhat and stay alive. The weapons are quite standard fare for these games and so are the enemies and their attacks. Dodge doesn’t really work in the game so its a run around in circles and hide affair hoping your firepower and run speed can keep you going. Health packs can be unlocked, as can some freeze and blast bombs to help you out too.

What I did enjoy was just how oppressive and dread inducing the overall vibe of Remedium Sentinels portrays. There is only one song playing when in battle but it has some fantastic string work where the music itself feels overwhelmed and bending under the weight of battle. Its really well done. Graphically, the arena’s are dark and dingy and whilst the level designs themselves are far too open and featureless, it definitely carries a vibe. My main issue is that late game, when about 50-70 wolves start attacking in large hordes, my PS4 copy simply couldn’t cope. The framerate drops to a crawl – easily single digits per second – and that means sometimes it misses inputs and causes you damage. I died just as often during framerate drops as I did everywhere else and that felt annoying.

Whenever these green wolves arrived on my PS4 version, the game ground to about 3-5FPS. It was quite annoying.

There is some overarching game progression. Coins found in battle can upgrade the base health, damage and movement/fire speed for each mech. There is then an additional global upgrade for the same things as well unlocking additional bullets per weapon and a time slow down function, which I never actually needed to complete the game normally. A hard mode and endless mode is also available should you clear the standard 15 minute survival mode on medium. Endless ramps up much faster and will keep you on your toes. Hard is just more of the same and tankier enemies which means they build up on screen faster, bringing that framerate drop into play earlier.

Did I have fun? Yes. Did I get bored ? Yes, and a bit quicker than I expected I would. Did I get annoyed with its technical issues? Also yes, although it didn’t stop that initial enjoyment. I think Remedium Sentinels is one for the genre fans and perhaps lovers of the steampunk visual look only. There are other, better, more strategic and varied auto-shooter roguelikes out there. Ones where you don’t end up building a very similar mech to battle with every single time. It just needed a bit more varied and to feel like you were making big decisions on your upgrades to be a more engaging experience. By letting you have everything in every run, I ended up building what worked over and over. Fast, agile mechs over power and punch. Would welcome a sequel though.

Remedium Sentinels
Final Thoughts
Technical issues and samey loadouts weigh down an enjoyable auto shooter roguelike.
Excellent lethargic soundtrack.
Initially addictive and fun as you experience the initial mechs and loadouts for the first time.
Decent ideas for the theme...
... but the theme doesn't seem to be well utilised.
Framerate drops to a crawl late game (PS4 version).
Mechs often feel too similar and so does the upgrade system and load outs, meaning the initial couple of hours of fun fades into a samey grind a bit too soon.
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