I don’t know about everyone else, but when I think of mining, I think of digging……digging down to be precise. Well, while Red Tie Miner includes plenty of digging in just about every direction possible, the primary goal of the game is actually one of ascension rather than descension. After falling down a collapsed mine, it’s your job to climb, dig and jetpack your little red tied miner back to safety.
With a brilliant, pixel heavy visual design, the first thing that will strike you about Red Tie Miner is just how good it all looks. Sure, it’s not pushing any polygons, but in terms of sheer 8-bit charm, this game is genuinely hard to beat. Looking like a less violent Super Meat Boy, this is a throwback to classic NES era visuals and is all the better for it. With the world made up of 90% blocks anyway, the pixel style design is actually perfectly suited to the world created. There is water and lava to contend with too, but these have both been beautifully created in the form of thousands of tiny squares that tumble across the screen if released from there rocky beds.
Like the visuals, the gameplay too is pleasingly old school in that it never feels the need to explain away its design choices. Want to buy tools from a convenient if bafflingly placed underground store? Why not. Want to use a parachute beneath terra-firma? Be my guest. Much of Red Tie Miner makes no sense, but in a world where gameplay is king, it’s really hard to care.
Starting off with little more than a pickaxe and only a vague goal of aiming north, Red Tie Miner requires you to dig at the surrounding area to pick up the many gems buried deep into the earth. Using the money made from these, you can return to the store at the start of the stage and buy numerous items that can be used to aid in your escape. While all fun to use, it’s a shame that the level design never really matches up with the available abilities.
With parachutes, grappling hooks, dynamite, rocket launchers, jetpacks and even an underground elevator, the options available to you are varied. Sadly, to succeed in your goal of finding the underground exit, you rarely, if ever need anything beyond the elevator and the jetpack. The other items are all fun to use, but outside of curiosity and a sense of fun, they’re really not needed. You can also purchase an exit locator, but I honestly found that its use ruined the experience. Red Tie Miner is all about exploration and by taking away that aspect of the game, you are robbing the experience of much of its charm.
With currency easy to come by and many of the items overpowered, the major problem with Red Tie Miner is that it doesn’t hold much of a challenge. There are water, lava and rogue boulders to contend with, but other than looking cool, their potential is largely squandered by poor level design that rarely threatens you with failure. Death does rob you of all of your purchased items, but again, with currency so easy to come by and genuine peril an extremely rare occurrence, this is seldom something to be worried about.
I really enjoyed Red Tie Miner, but the lack of challenge, overpowered items and poorly implemented hazards rob the game of its potentially classic status. For 80MS Points, it’s definitely worth a go…..I just hope that developers, Maximinus, have another stab at the game and create a sequel that lives up to the game’s vast underlying potential.
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