I admit it, I love fairytales. Those stories that were told to you as kids about the three little pigs, Jack and the beanstalk, Pinocchio, and – of course – Little Red Riding Hood, have stuck around in today’s modern world in some form or fashion, including video-game interpretations. New from GRIN Gamestudio is Woolfe: The Red Hood Diaries, a gothic inspired take (think American McGee’s Alice perhaps) on our beloved Red, who’s all grown up now and out for blood. Her goal is to find out what happened to her parents and to take revenge on B. B. Woolfe, who she is convinced is behind all of her problems. Will this twisted take on an old bedtime story keep you awake, or will it put you to sleep long before the end of the tale?
When it comes down to it, Woolfe is a basic platformer with some action thrown in. You will be running, jumping, hitting switches, and avoiding obstacles through various areas that include towns, sewers, and forests – just to name a few. The developers decided to add a bit more depth to the to game by adding the ability to move between different planes in the foreground and background, which works most of the time. Unfortunately, you will sometimes need to make very difficult jumps at an angle to go from one plane to another and it can be a precarious undertaking. There were numerous times in which I had problems trying to figure out where exactly I was in the air to safely land on ground or a moving platform. Dying several times over and over from this same issue began to get rather frustrating, if not entirely rage inducing, and when I finally muddled through these areas it was seemingly more by luck than anything else.
“Dying several times over and over from this same issue began to get rather frustrating, if not entirely rage inducing…”
As mentioned there is some action thrown in to liven things up. Shortly into the game, Red finds an axe she can use to attack enemies who stand in her way. She will also learn skills to take down people and larger mobs when things get too crazy. When activated Red’s skills will slow down time for dramatic effect, and you can use them when your magic gauge is full. You can refill it easily with blue orbs that enemies drop. Enemies also drop health, as can destructible crates strewn throughout the levels. Health also regenerates after a battle if you just wait for a few moments before venturing on. The biggest issue I had with combat is that it felt like I was just button mashing because it’s rather difficult to lock onto enemies.
You don’t always have to attack the enemies as Red also has the ability to sneak… which sometimes works. By “sometimes”, I really mean “hardly ever” to be honest. Often I’d be sneaking behind objects, just to have enemies rush me for no reason at all. Some enemies you cannot take down very easily and if they hit you it’s almost an instant-kill. It got very frustrating very quickly until I got lucky enough to dodge and outrun them.
“Red has definitely grown up to be a powerful young woman, one who might have a lot of potential in future games as a main character.”
One thing the game has going for it is the beautiful art style. From gothic town settings to dark, grimy sewers to bright and very colourful forests – the game has a bit of everything – and pulls it off well for each setting. The game tries to throw in callbacks to other fairy tales, but they are few and far between. When you do come across them, the game does a good job shining some light on what has happened to those tales’ characters in the game world’s history, which was kind of interesting. Little Red Riding Hood is also quite well animated as she ventures through levels. She has definitely grown up to be a powerful young woman, one who might have a lot of potential in future games as a main character.
Audio in the game is on par with the graphics as Woolfe has a really beautifully haunting score to go along with your adventure. Being a fan of video game soundtracks this is one I’d like to add to my collection. The rest of the audio is pretty good and the voice overs work well too. The actress they cast for Red did a particularly great job.
Woolfe: The Red Hood Diaries is enjoyable for its strong atmosphere and audio, but unfortunately some of the poor gameplay mechanics just kill the overall experience. Plus the asking price for the game is just a bit too high for a game that is only a few hours long. It is worth checking out, but I would wait for a price drop.
*** Reviewed on PC, code provided by the publisher ***