Woolfe – The Red Hood Diaries is an action platformer based loosely on the tale of Red Riding Hood except that in this iteration our heroine is an axe-wielding, platform jumping, robot smashing young woman out on the hunt for vengeance and the Big Bad of legend is actually a rich industrialist who has been plundering both the people of the town where it is set and the resources of the forrest that plays home to dear Granny in his efforts to increase his wealth. It’s the first effort from a small team of developers called Grin and it has left me with quite a quandary. You see I liked and enjoyed the game despite it’s flaws, of which there are plenty. Life is much easier when a game I like is good and a game I dislike is bad, rather than this odd middle ground I currently find myself in.
Woolfe does some things very well, so let’s deal with them first. The writing is actually rather enjoyable and puts an interesting new spin on an old tale. It’s easy to resort to childhood stories for narrative but the twists in the tale that the development team went for here work quite well. The idea of Woolfe being a callous and greedy industrialist works for me and feels relevant to the game world, the tenuous relationship between Red’s father and our villain is nicely done and Red herself goes from babe in the woods in the traditional tale to lady with an axe as she double jumps her way across the levels in the universe the game creates. The story itself is delivered in poetic format as Red keeps us informed throughout the game of her history, her thoughts and the motivations to her actions. It’s a nice touch and only falls a little flat in one or two places. A note here on the actress who voiced Red, she really did a great job of bringing the character to life and adding some verve and vigour to what is effectively a fairy tale with a twist.
One of the games standout features is how it looks, for a small team with a small budget the game looks fantastic. The environmental aesthetic design really excels in the later portion of the game as you venture deep into a forest of floating platforms and strange mystical energies. Sewers and docks feel suitably damp and the wind-up robot guards are a nice touch, adding to the sense of a children’s bedtime story gone wrong.
Sadly the wheels tend to fall off a little bit as we approach the gameplay mechanics themselves. The most fun aspect of the game is certainly the platforming, but in places the design of the environments is just too simple and lacks challenge. Combat is clunky and awkward, lacking any real nuance and just boils down to striking and rolling, occasionally using a special attack if it makes sense to do so. I found myself wishing that the core focus of platforming had been maintained and would have been more than happy to spend my time dodging tin men rather than fighting them. I feel like the game could have done something interesting by incorporating pathing mobs in synchronization with the environmental threats rather than just make bad guys a temporary nuisance to be removed. The one hit kill nature of the traps and threats that the levels provide also seemed to inform the level design a bit too much, rather than complex arrays of traps and blades to avoid they were few and far between, adding an air of ease and simplicity to the game.
One major aspect of the game is a very short running time, it took me just under 2 hours of relaxed play to finish the game and with a reasonably low replay value it doesn’t offer many reasons to have a second playthrough. With all that said, and despite its flaws, I still enjoyed my time with the game and I appreciated its charms. I can see a lot of promise in any future title if the development team focuses on a core aspect of the mechanics and polishes it. The combat felt wishy-washy in the extreme so a large part of me hopes they focus almost purely on platforming and having to avoid enemies rather than fight them. All that said, I enjoyed the time I spent with the game, it’s a strong first effort on a low budget and I have kept that in mind when considering its strengths and weaknesses. I’m a big fan of platform games, so when I was playing this with a mind to review it should be noted that I can be hard to please and this game was being played in the shadow of the recently released Ori And The Blind Forrest, one of the best platform games in recent years. While I did find aspects of the game that I really liked, it’s a game I could only really recommend for the platform diehards right now.
Combat & Length
Only if you’re a platformer die hard
This review was written using a review code provided by the developer/a PR agency.
For details on release dates and other related info, head to Woolfe – The Red Hood Diaries’s game page.
** When is it worth the price? — In lieu of review scores, we opt to give our opinion on whether the game is worthy of it’s release day price, or if you should wait for a patch or a sale. **