Red Goddess Inner World is a platformer that takes cues from a number of games in the genre, mixing them together in the hopes of achieving something new, but in a way that still feels oddly familiar.
Playing as Divine, a young goddess, you are tasked with the standard running and jumping based puzzles and problems, unlocking abilities along the way as you reveal memories about her past, in a storyline that at times takes itself a bit too seriously and is oft clichéd – forgotten memories! Inner abilities! A twin sister! To keep you in the loop with the plot points as you progress through the game, a voice over jumps in at certain points, and at times it does feel heavy-handed and intrude on the gameplay once the initial five minutes have ticked by. The first time you want to run past a section and are forced to stop and wait while the disembodied voice explains what is going on quickly irritates, especially when nothing has happened that you couldn’t have worked out for yourself through gameplay. This leads to the voice over becoming surplus and over used, and the option to skip these sections is something that is lacking.
Red Goddess is at times fun to play, and based heavily around the mechanic of unlocking new abilities that allow you to progress to new parts of the map. Much of the game focuses on you using your inner powers that are tied to two emotions, Rage, a red hulking flame like creature, and Fear, a blue slender ice like beast. Besides the obvious differences in appearance, both Rage and Fear play pretty much the same way, the only differences being the enemies and blocks that each can defeat to progress further – red blocks and enemies for Rage, blue for Fear. Having an inner power that allows players to transform and unlock new areas is nothing that we haven’t seen before, and Red Goddess doesn’t do anything new with the formula – transform into the correct coloured emotion taking your cue from the coloured enemy or block, run and jump to new areas, rinse and repeat. It is a case of if it isn’t broke don’t fix it, but something just doesn’t seem to click here to make it as enjoyable as it should be.
Controlling Devine is a simple affair, with both running and jumping mapped to the obvious buttons, with punching as Rage and Fear and a fireball power for Devine thrown in for good measure. This fireball serves a dual purpose, allowing blocks that obstruct paths early on in the game to be blown up, and then later serving to possess some of the enemies that appear, taking control of them and blowing them up to do damage to any surrounding enemies. Fighting in Red Goddess involves punching (a lot) and jumping to avoid any fireballs that enemies can fling your way. These sections do up the difficulty a little, but not because the enemies in Red Goddess are particularly tough, but that the controls at times feel sluggish and unresponsive especially when multiple red and blue enemies appear which means having to switch quickly between Fear and Rage in order to defeat them. This is also true for the platforming sections, with jumping at times feeling slow, like Devine is jumping out from a bowl of custard. Don’t get me wrong, having years of Mario experience I know that mis-timing a jump and blaming it on sluggish controls is the first excuse to be cited, but even simple sections can irritate due in large to the controls not being as tight as they could be.
All the usual puzzles from the genre are presented, spikes and falling platforms and rotating platforms with spikes on them and all kinds of permutations of the above, with timing and patience the means to achieving success. Health and Mana can be upgraded by collecting and then spending coins littered throughout the map, and new areas can be unlocked by collecting diamonds found along the way, which, when paired with the abilities that also unlock new areas, means you have to trail backwards and forwards around the map in order to fully explore. This does descned quite quickly into tedium as Red Goddess lacks any form of fast travel system – some might see this as a blessing, others as a curse.
A few hours in, will I stick with Red Goddess until the end credits roll? Probably. Red Goddess does take many ideas we have seen before and mixes them all together, but you can’t help but come away feeling something is still missing. It is hard to put my finger on what exactly is stopping me from singing Red Goddess’s praises, all of its faults are minor and can be over looked, with the charming art style working towards earning it a pass. Ultimately a game should be judged on being fun to play above all else, forcing you to inhabit it’s make-believe world for minutes or hours at a time, and so the question is does Red Goddess succeed in doing this? Yes… and no.
Red Goddess is fun to play, but sluggish controls and an intrusive voice over create a stuttered experience, never allowing you to fully commit to the game world. If you are a fan of platform gaming you will be sure to find something to like here, and developers Yanim Studios took to Kickstarter in order to make Red Goddess, and for doing something different they should be lauded, but do they succeed in creating a great platforming experience? The jury might just be out on that one.
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