By: David Tavernier
Red Goddess: Inner World is the latest offering from indie developer Yanim Studios, developers of several other indie games as well as some 3D animations. Red Goddess is a 2.5D platformer and as such should be judged against what makes a good platformer: it must be fun yet challenging, and finding the correct mix can be quite difficult. And while Red Goddess can be fun at times and challenging at others, it doesn’t achieve the ideal blend. Is it a platformer worthy of your time? Read on to find out.
Things in Red Goddess handle good, but they’re not great. Most platforming sections are fairly straightforward and should be finished with ease. There are times, however, especially during combat with multiple enemies or bosses, you’ll wish for better controlling options. For instance, when you are in your rage or fear forms, it would be nice if you could double jump or cling to vine-covered walls, but you can only do these things in your default form.
This means fighting bosses while being surrounded by lesser minions can be quite a chore because whenever you want to double jump to avoid an attack you will first be forced to go back into your default form, which can be difficult and frustrating. Thus, some controlling elements are very easy while others are hard, making the game an uneven experience.
Red Goddess’ atmosphere is quite mystical, and this mysticism is reflected in the game’s graphics and sound design — in fact, the soundtrack reminds me quite a bit of Super Metroid. Interwoven together, you can often hear a piano, harp and a chorus making a catchy and sometimes beautiful symphony of sound. The narrator also has a deep and mysterious voice. Although his narration can be repetitive at times, the quality of his voice is suitable considering the game’s atmosphere.
Visually, the game is very simplistic and looks more like a last-gen title. This doesn’t mean they are ugly. They just don’t measure up to other, current-gen platformers like Max: The Curse of Brotherhood or Guacamelee. They remind me of other indie games, such as Bastion, but they’re not as colorful or detailed. This being said, the presentation is one of the game’s high points.
Red Goddess features a mix of classic elements from the Metroidvania genre. You start with only the ability to jump, and as you progress you’ll find your lost memories (you’re suffering from amnesia) scattered throughout the game’s large landscapes. These memories provide new powers that help you advance in your quest to save the world from an evil tyrant.
Crystals are hidden around the landscape that’ll allow you to enter the game’s various dungeons, and in order to get these crystals you must retrieve new memories and powers. For instance, some crystals will be hidden behind dark blue blockades, which must be smashed with your fireball. Red blockades can only be destroyed using your rage power. Light blue blockades require your fear power, and so on and so on…
After each memory/power you recover you’ll search the land to recover as many newly accessible crystals as possible. As you get more, new dungeons will open up, and you then search these for even more memories and powers. Thus, the cycle perpetuates itself.
Certain levels around the land requiring high amounts of crystals will remain locked until the end of the game, and others will be available almost immediately. In order to progress you’ll continually backtrack to get crystals you missed due to being without the necessary special powers when you first encountered them.
Is roaming the land to get these memories and crystals fun? Yes, to a certain extent. It’s fun going back to places you already explored to use your new powers to acquire new crystals, which fills you in on the game’s intriguing back story. It’s also fun learning about the main character through sparsely interspersed cut scenes left behind from memories earned by defeating the various bosses.
Even the bosses are pretty fun and challenging. Most seem impossible at first, but as you continue to hammer away at them, you will eventually figure out strategies to take them down. You will die a lot on the game’s bosses, though, and here lies one of the gameplay’s fatal flaws: load times.
I’ve counted the time it takes to reload the game after dying, and it usually takes 25-30 seconds. Considering the game’s low-quality graphics, this is inexcusable, and it drains quite a bit of the game’s fun. When stuck on a boss, waiting so long every time you die is annoying.
On some bosses you can die rather quickly, so the process of dying, waiting 30 seconds, resurrecting and then dying again, only to have to load again, can be very aggravating. Does this entirely spoil the game? Not really, but it is something to think about before getting too attached to Red Goddess.
If you can look past excessive load times after each death, and the difficulty of some of the game’s bosses, then Red Goddess: Inner World might be for you. The game’s story is interesting, the platforming is enjoyable and the music is easy on the ears, so when you’re not stuck on difficult boss and multi-minion battles, you should have a good time.