Red Goddess: Inner World

(1 customer review)


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Complete Review & Description

Crowdfunded indie games are the heroes we gamers need: they bring fresh ideas into an industry that at the top level is hell-bent on rehashing the Cold and Gulf wars for the umpteenth time. They have the ability to refresh tired mechanics and break longstanding conventions and expectations. Red Goddess: Inner World is one such crowdfunding lovechild.

Coming out of Yanim Studio, a Spanish team of just six people, Red Goddess is a Metriodvania oozing with colour and potential. We play the character Divine, a young goddess who is exploring the internal world of her mind in order to remember who she is and the powers she possesses. The art style is stunning and unique, as is the music composition. In the classic Metroidvania style, Red Goddess actively encourages us to retrace our steps as Divine remembers more and more of her powers, which unlock new areas of the map.

The world is distinctly non-linear, making ample use of what would be in any other game a mere backdrop to the action. The trees aren’t simply there for decoration – Divine flits between the branches like a wood-sprite to get to where she needs to go. We also travel below ground through doors and secret passages unlocked by one of the powers Divine learns along the way. The ideas are free-flowing and brilliant – but sadly that’s where ground falls out from beneath Divine’s feet.

The first thread that starts Red Goddess’ unravelling is the story exposition. The narrator, although a good voice actor in his own, tells us every minute detail of what is going on, but somehow manages to leave us confused about the very core of the story and why any of this is happening. It’s a classic case of being told, rather than shown: the narrator tells us, in the most banal way possible, when Divine is scared, or when she is angry, or that we have to go and talk to this particular person after speaking to an NPC that tells us exactly that. Everything except what actually matters is over-explained to the point where it interrupts the game play – character movement is often disabled when the narrator is speaking.

The basic and repetitive level design only serves to further unravel this game. We repeatedly zig-zag our way down into a tunnel, then back up to the surface, or up into the trees, and then back down to the ground. There’s nothing particularly clever about it after the first three or so times we do this, and it does nothing to distract us from the other issues of the game, such as the frustratingly punishing platforming. An overly long health bar is useless when most traps and puzzles instantly kill you. Having a series of attacks and powers are equally useless when their keyboard combinations are entirely counter-intuitive.

I am a huge fan of a challenge, and I am utterly incapable of letting a game beat me, so don’t misunderstand my issue with this. I don’t mind dying repeatedly while I figure out how to do a particular section, except when doing so forces me into the dreaded load screen debacle, with a long enough wait that I actually have time to get up, make a snack, eat the snack and put a load of washing on before it finishes. 30 seconds of gameplay does not justify the 45-second load screen. It only justifies me snapping my keyboard in half when I hit the load screen for the 468th time after barely clipping the very edge of a spike pit.

However, the final straw with Red Goddess: Inner World is the unfinished feel to it. It frequently glitches out and requires restarting, and clunky controls only serve to drive the frustration higher. When there is a lack of engaging storyline or character attachment, it only makes players – who inevitably own other games – just want to stop and play something enjoyable.

One of the first rules of game design, or design in general, is to establish function before working on the form of the piece. There is simply no point in having a game that is stunning to look at and listen to, when it just isn’t fun to play.


1 review for Red Goddess: Inner World

  1. fessupboy

    Such an amazing game.

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