Woolfe: The Red Hood Diaries Review (PC)
Woolfe:The Red Hood Diaries is the umpteenth revisionist take on fairy tales, with a sneaky, athletic Red Riding Hood that would fit Assassin Creed's world like a glove. Although it's a game filled with visual brio, this big bad wolf took a few bites in the wrong direction.
The game's greatest asset lies in its straightforward, but nonetheless compelling, narrative. Ulrica was a once thriving industrial town, but under the tyrannical and corrupt hand of B.B. Woolfe, Ulrica is now a wasteland. Tin soldiers have replaced human workers, and missing girls have simply vanished from the area. Among Woolfe's victims is Red's father. With an unquenchable thirst for revenge, Red is determined to exterminate Wolfe and hopefully bring a little sunlight to Ulrica.
Under the training of her skilled grandmother, Red is now an agile fighter and stealth artist. With its steampunk aesthetic and nightmarish vision of a town gone mad, Woolfe: The Red Hood Diaries will pull you right into its storyline. The music score, though simple, adds a hypnotic feel to the proceedings, and the developers bring the appropriate mix of light and shadows to provide an eye-catching feast. Red speaks in rhymes, and her tough-talking, sarcastic delivery is also a welcome element, and on a sheer presentation level, Woolfe: The Red Hood Diaries delivers a solid first impression.
The game drizzles a bit of puzzle platforming, stealth tactics and hack and slash gameplay (Red wields an axe) into the equation. To pull off this gumbo pot of goodness, intuitive controls are an absolute necessity. Unfortunately, this is The Red Hood Diaries' undoing.
The simple act of jumping from one place to the next is a point of frustration in Woolfe, and I've wasted countless minutes attempting to progress to the next step. Whether it's failing to jump as soon as I pressed the spacebar or overshooting my intended destination, these errors didn't come from a lack of coordination. No matter what genre, jumping should be the last of one's worries, and that proverbial leap forward should be an viscerally exhilarating part of one's video gaming experience. Fortunately, if you're deep into a certain stage and die, you won't have to restart that entire level, which considering the game's lack of intuitive controls, is a good thing.
The combat style is also nothing to write home about. Though it's easy to wave Red's axe around with just a few buttons, the action is also uninspired. Killing rats or tin soldiers is also a bit of a slog, as Red's weapon accuracy is far from dependable. Whether it's jumping or hacking and slashing your enemies, controlling Red through these actions is a total slog.
There is so much painstaking detail to creating Ulrica's universe, and since its sound and visual design are a perfect marriage, it's sad to see that buggy controls and uninspired gameplay is the adventure's ultimate downfall. If the control issues are fixed down the road, Red's journey could be a totally immersive undertaking. For now though, they bog down the overall experience tremendously.
Although its steampunk take on a nightmarish fairy tale is compelling, Woolfe: The Red Riding Hood fails to capitalize on its beautifully rendered environment. A world is hard to live in without a little action, and thanks to a flawed control system, Red Riding Hood's adventures fails to take appropriate flight.
This review is based on a download code for Woolfe: The Red Hood Diaries provided by the publisher for PC.