Streets Of Red: Devils Dare Deluxe is a beat em up that is available on Steam and Humble Bundle for $9.99, PlayStation 4 for $8.99 and Nintendo Switch for $9.99. It was developed by Secret Base. This review was conducted by Joseph Pugh.
Streets of Red is a retro side scrolling beat em up that instantly made me feel like a kid again when I started playing it. However, don’t dismiss it as some kind of clone, it is pop culture reference central. Imagine Ready Player One, but a beat em up game instead of an MMO.
If Marvel says that Infinity War is the greatest crossover in media of all time. Streets of Red replies with, Hold my beer. The central theme is Video games versus Horror movies and you control a hero who’s been given powers by a somewhat familiar-looking fairy, to battle the undead and evil plaguing the world.
The hero characters are clearly inspired by the likes of Link, Shovel Knight, and other popular gaming figures. The villains and enemies you face range from zombies, evil living dolls, face-hugging creatures and numerous bosses tastefully inspired by horror and monsters movies and other popular media. It’s difficult not to smile each time you encounter a new one.
The fun of Streets of Red extends past its wonderful theme and setting, however. It supports local co-op with up to four players and you start with four different heroes to choose from and two more you can unlock later. Each hero has different amounts of health and movement speed as well as separate attacks and special powers. They all play distinctly different. The game also supports controllers and full key rebinding.
Streets Of Red takes the standard concepts of beat em gameplay and throws in some significant twists. You can do combo attacks and special moves of course, but as you travel through each stage you are also trying to collect money for three purposes. One of which I won’t spoil here, but believe me when I say, it’s important.
First and foremost, you have no lives, you have to spend money to revive yourself if you die. If you’re lacking the cash, it is game over and it deletes your save. That might sound harsh, but Streets Of Red is highly replayable. You choose which stage to take on first, and each stage that you didn’t choose becomes longer with more areas on that playthrough. You will need to beat the game multiple times to see everything.
Streets of Red also has difficulty settings, secret bosses to find and a bit of randomness thrown in. Anyway, each time you revive, the cost of revival climbs higher. At the end of each area, you also get a choice of three random boons you can buy with cash. These power up your attacks or buff your stats. Its up to you to decide whether or not you can risk spending the money, or if you should heal yourself instead.
Keep an eye out for soul tokens. They function as continues, should you die and be to broke to revive. The bottom line is, cash is important and you get it by killing with style, via fatalities.
A fatality occurs whenever you finish off an enemy, including bosses with a special attack. When an enemy’s health bar is depleted, they don’t die right away, in fact, you can pummel them to prolong it. Make the last hit a special attack and they drop some sweet coin. Manage to kill three or more enemies at once with a fatality and they also drop some food you can pick up and heal with. That is one of the only ways to heal yourself in the game.
Special attacks use up your SP bar, which gets filled by hitting enemies, getting struck by attacks and by picking up some blue drops. Pulling off good combos and fatalities requires thought, timing, and teamwork if your playing with friends. The difficulty also scales to the number of players which is thoughtful.
If you play on the hardest difficulty, and you will have to at some point to unlock everything. You can place bets on each stage. Each bet makes the cost of your revive increase and can make enemies and bosses elite making them more powerful but drop more money. Its very much risk and reward and can pay off big if you have the skills.
It’s also the little things that add to the enjoyment of the game. You can knock enemies around and if they collide with a wall it deals damage, you can knock them into each other and send them scattering. The bosses aren’t immune to your attacks and can be smashed or thrown about. Queenie can throw bombs that explode on a timer, which can also be knocked around so you can set up clever combos with them.
The fatality and money system are implemented brilliantly and it flows perfectly with the pace and theme of the game. Such features can easily turn into annoying gimmicks but they feel right at home in Streets Of Red.
The references and inspiration from popular media are a ton of fun and they extend to more than just the obvious visual parodies. A keen eye may spot some plants from another fun zombie game. Select Queenie in the character menu and she exclaims. “I volunteer as tribute!” You may even recognize the likeness of a particular YouTuber who hates everything.
The game is wonderfully self-aware and melds that awareness together with well thought out and fun retro brawling. It’s replayable, has several challenging secret bosses and local co-op. I can’t recommend the game enough as long as you don’t mind a challenge.