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Impressions: Red Game Without A Great Name

Seeing Red

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Yes, the name’s insufferable. Red Game Without A Great Name [official site] is as wince-inducing as those tits at the pub quiz who call themselves “The Team In The Corner!”. But let’s forgive it that and look at the game itself – it’s an original mechanic in a side-scrolling game! Goodness me. But does it work?

You play a creepy mechanical bird delivering mail, who automatically flies across an inexorably scrolling screen, controlled only by teleportation.

Beyond that, it’s fairly recognisable, especially aesthetically. Red flavoured backgrounds with a silhouetted foreground, masonry and foliage and spiky dangers. Clearly designed for a touchscreen, it’s no surprise it’s available on iThings – there’s even an in-game guide with the image of a finger doing the dragging. But that translates perfectly well to the mouse, where you click on the bird, drag to the point to which you’d like it to teleport, and let go. It then blips there. The trick is figuring out that movement while not being able to stop the bird from flying forward, and preventing it from touching any of the dangers.

There, unfortunately, the big problem arises. It seems to me the bird reacts to hitting something like barbed wire a couple of pixels before it actually does. Attempting to make precision moves to zip back and forth between enclosed sections, aiming to grab gears along the way, means you need to be fast. So when you appear to have timed things perfectly but the bird dies anyway, it’s a touch frustrating. Even worse, it sometimes just appears to fail to move at all – draw the line, let go, and it hits the wall anyway. Finally, I’ve had far too many moments where I’ve clicked on the bird in the split-second available, but it hasn’t let me draw a line. And when all of these apparent errors means starting the level again, it’s a real burden.

And it just seems to get worse. Which is such a shame, as the mechanic is really novel, and could have made for a fun challenge. Instead it’s a game that seems to constantly kill you despite your doing everything right.

I think the same mentality that led to such a dreadful name has permeated the entire project. It’s not difficult to think of a good name for your game – I would call this game of delivering mail in a dystopian future, “Post Apocalyptic” – but it feels as if the game skips precision in all things. I’m disappointed, as this looked fun, but it’s only an exercise in frustration.

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John Walker

Disposable

Once one of the original co-founders of Rock Paper Shotgun, they killed me out of jealousy. I now run buried-treasure.org

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