Woolfe: Red Hood Diaries
A Kickstarter-funded puzzle platformer fom GRIN, Woolfe: Red Hood Diaries is a refreshingly dark and cinematic twist on the well-travelled Little Red Riding Hood fable, with a Tim Burton-inspired visual flair. Set in an industrious fantasy landscape where 'tin has replaced flesh' – i.e. the streets are now policed by the likes of life-sized robotic soldiers – the player naturally assumes the role of Red. She is investigating her father's death at a factory owned by one B.B. Woolfe (I wonder...?), an omnipotent tycoon and CEO of Woolfe industries.
The story unfolds through dialogue from Red's perspective, a moody narration that gives the game a noir-like detective quality. Gone is the Red Riding Hood who skipped merrily through forests, grandma's basket in hand. This Red is an angst-ridden, fiercely independent female protagonist for a more modern audience. The controls are relatively straightforward for a platformer, with jumps, double jumps, light and heavy attacks, and the important ability to sneak. However Red has some more advanced abilities up her sleeve, so you never feel like the game has stretched its protagonist's capabilities. Red has a power meter that can be filled up during combat to release special moves such as an axe toss, or super heavy moves to send enemies scattering.
A lot of the gameplay is fundamentally run-of-the-mill, jumping from platform to platform, having to hit a switch to advance to a new area, but nonetheless remains fun and engaging. Some may find it a little frustrating at times as there is the odd moment that may catch you out (for example a wayward camera angle blocking the view, causing Red to plunge to her death), though lives are unlimited so it's not too much of a concern.
Woolfe's visuals are one of its main draws: GRIN have merged together a beautiful landscape of the fantastical and creepy. The quirky industriousness has the same vibe as the most recent big screen outing of Charlie and The Chocolate Factory (the Tim Burton comparisons prove to be somewhat unavoidable) and it's a pleasure to kill some time exploring them. Paired with great voice work and a fitting twisted fantasy score, Woolfe makes for an aesthetically pleasing package overall.
Woolfe is an entertaining platformer, with a unique take on a well-known story. The puzzles are well-designed and interesting enough to get your brain thinking, though never too complex, and the gameplay, while familiar, is still solid. All that said one of its biggest downfalls is its length, clocking in at just over two hours. Still, like all the best fairytales, Woolfe: Red Hood Diaries stands up to repeated tellings.