The world has fallen into darkness, and only a 29-year-old who yells about memes and makes videos called "I Broke My Ass" can save it. The setup of Pew Dew Redemption is honestly pretty funny—this free Steam game turns Pewdiepie's competition with Indian music channel T-Series into a dark, rainy, apocalyptic battle for the freedom of the internet and the implied fate of all humanity. It's a bad game, a mealy beat-em-up in which you hit a bunch of robots with a large studded letter P (for Pewdiepie, see). In the 20 minutes or so it took me to finish it, I couldn't decide if I was more entertained by its absurdity or disturbed by Pewdiepie's cult of personality.
The existence of Pew Dew Redemption is not surprising. Pewdiepie's 96 million Youtube subscribers mean he has a massive fanbase, undeterred by the occasional racial slur or antisemitism. "Undeterred by" might be less accurate than "encouraged by"—he's gained something like 25 million subscribers in just the past few months as his "9-year-old army" fought to make sure he stayed the king of Youtube. T-Series was catching up fast—what perfect drama for a fan game to harness!
But boy, does it get weird. For starters, the game's developer, who goes by the handle Enki, immediately inserts himself into the game, laying out the backstory for Pewdiepie with some ethereal voiceover.
"The Great Subwar ended a long time ago. The struggle of the content creators however never came to an end. The company has taken over the whole world. Their new article that has been passed will result in full censorship. Felix! You're the last independent content creator! Will you watch how the world falls apart or will you fight?"
I thought this was just going to be a crappy Unity asset store beat-em-up. I wasn't really prepared for the game developer to insert himself into his own game in the first 10 seconds, much less cast himself as a godly figure explaining how only Pewds can save the world from a dictatorial Youtube channel.
For his part, my avatar of Pewdiepie responds with a brief voice clip, shouting "What!?" It's a fair reply.
And look, I know it's not good manners to go on a tangent before I even get into talking about this game, but you have to watch this video from the developer, Enki, titled "Day in Life of a Game Dev God," delivered in the same ethereal VO as his lines in Pew Dew Redemption.
I'm not sure if this video will help you understand more or less, but it's filled with some gems, like "I believe in fueling my body with a miniaturized star reactor" and "I've lost track of what my powerlevel is. Perhaps one decillion, perhaps nothing, power without boundaries." Then Enki's Dr. Manhattan-but-silver avatar stares at a Youtube subscriber award congratulating him on 1 billion subs (he currently has 132), right next to his Game of the Year 2021 award.
Moving on to Pew Dew Redemption: This is how the game loaded for me after the title screen. Not the most encouraging start.
After a few seconds of walking around Pewd's not-Youtube-accurate pad, I hit the "cutscene" I quoted above about being the last independent content creator. Emboldened by destiny, I head out into the rain, where I'm soon transported to the headquarters of TCRS, the evil video empire standing in for T-Series. Pewds seems worried he won't be able to take them on himself, but Enki offers this assurance:
"Don't worry. I've designed this weapon of mass destruction in the forge of eternity. It has the power to kill a god."
This is the Infinity P.
From here on it's basically smacking around a bunch of robots, which you can tell are evil because they glow orange, and I'll admit that Enki has at least made a functional 3D videogame, which is not something I have ever done. It's not very fun, because the movement is stiff, it's hard to tell when hits register, and the robots mostly stand still and occasionally take a sad swipe at you. This is not quite Bayonetta-level combat.
Then again, pressing the E key unleashes my special move, which is a whirling gamer chair projectile attack. As soon as I realize I can throw a chair hadouken it's pretty much all I do for the rest of the game.
Some other strange things about Pew Dew Redemption:
- The item pickups scattered around the levels appear to be golden Lego pieces, though they do nothing.
- It actually has some nice moody lighting
- Enki chiming in with another zinger: "You are the vessel for the endless cosmos of entertainment"
- I think the AI on these robots is broken
In the end, I wailed on a giant "Delete channel" button which apparently destroyed TCRS, aka T-Series, and saved the world. My victory feels hollow. I have no better understanding of why 95 million people love Pewdiepie, or why Enki likes him enough to waste his videogame-making skills on Pew Dew Redemption.
There's a lot of shovelware on Steam. Cash-in clickers, asset store flips, "[insert noun] simulator." So, so many hentai games. Pew Dew Redemption is certainly not the worst of them. It's even a little funny, if perhaps too desperate to hero worship a man who makes videos about memes and the drama of other Youtubers. He's not worth breaking your ass over.