Redguard is a superb action adventure game from Bethesda Softworks that sets new standards in the ever-more-popular genre of hybrid games. This swashbuckling epic boasts an excellent and detailed plot, fluid 3D animations, and fiendish puzzles (the beetle puzzle alone reminds me in the best way of the Babel Fish puzzle in Infocom's Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy). Chris Harding says it all in his excellent review of this modern classic for Adrenaline Vault:
"[Set in the fantasy world of Tamriel, the setting of its RPGs Arena and Daggerfall, the game casts you as] Cyrus, the prodigal son of Hammerfell and a mercenary for hire who left his homeland after a family squabble -- you killed your sister's husband. Now, over ten years and a civil war later, you get word that your sister has turned up missing, and foul play seems to be the cause. The adventure then begins, after the most entertaining introduction I've seen in ages, with you the hero setting sail for your homeland.
Redguard combines the best elements of adventure, action, exploration with hints of role-playing, and is scripted in a lusciously detailed 3D world full of pirates, swordsman, archers, magicians, dirty politicians and one devious assassin. In the quest to find your missing sister you will uncover some of the secrets to the kingdom, which include answers to the disappearance of the ancient Dwarven race that was said to once inhabit Tamriel. While there are the basic elements of adventuring here, how the game handles them is quite unique. As the player character, Cyrus, you have the freedom to go anywhere people will let you, talk to anyone that will listen, and pick anything you can find. What makes this game so special is the method in which you accomplish all these tasks. Talking to non-player characters is exceptionally well done, and over 30 of them inhabit the island, each with their own personality and political ideologies.
But walking around town asking just anyone a series of questions is likely to get you into more trouble than obtaining answers. As part of the overall scripting and artificial intelligence, the NPCs will keep track of who you speak with, what events have transpired, and will even spread rumors to one another concerning the state of affairs in Stros M'Kai. If you ever get bored of talking to the townsfolk, something that never happened to me, you can venture outside of the city at any time you like and find any number of things that will get you in trouble.
The action sequences in the game are a mix between an Indiana Jones movie and a great RPG. Visually the game, especially for 3Dfx owners, is stunning, and displays the best looking most interactive, real-world outside environments you've ever seen. As a Redguard Cyrus is quite agile, quick, and strong. He's also the first black main character in an a major action/adventure game who isn't a parody or stereotype.
While there are a lot of action-based puzzles where you'll swing-jump from ropes, or jump from platform to platform above pools of lava, none of these ever dominate the game to the point of frustration. Your primary form of defense is the trusty sabre, and it's something you'll use a lot. Once you've garnered the attention of the Imperial governor and been declared a criminal, you'll be the most wanted man in all of Stros M'kai -- sometimes the sabre is the only way to deal with Imperial guards, and luckily this is the best swashbuckling adventure I've played. This game is truly much more than I ever expected.
The Webster's Dictionary defines the word "epic" as, "a long poem in elevated style narrating the deeds of a hero." I couldn't have said it better. Redguard has done something for me that I am extremely thankful for. As a fellow gamer I am sure I play games for many of the same reasons you all do, but as a professional reviewer I often have to look at games from a perspective other than just that of a gamer, a more critical and analytical one if you will. Redguard has reminded me of the reason why I started to play games in the first place: the exploration of my imagination, the suspension of reality and disbelief, the experience of an altered state, total immersion. I cannot recommend Redguard enough; you owe it to yourself to visit Stros M'Kai."
Note: We have been asked by Bethesda Software to remove download of this game. Please contact them for availability; thank you.Reviewed by: Underdogs