Red’s Kingdom Review: Fist Full of Nuts
Kalvin Martinez / Aug 31st, 2018 No Comments
As video games have become much more complex and complicated, it is easy to forget how satisfying those simple days of video games were. The idea of a simple concept married with a protagonist with a singular goal seems outdated but can still be so fulfilling. It isn’t that all games should be that way, but these stand out.
Red’s Kingdom is by no means a simple game — it is full of complexity in terms of its mechanics and design. What is refreshing though is how straightforward Red and his motivations are, even if the story does its best to try to make things more complicated. Also, the puzzle mechanics are augmented with adventure and Metroidvania elements.
I Came Here to Do Two Things…
Red lived a normal life. He was an industrious squirrel who took care of his papa and gathered nuts for the winter. He didn’t bother anyone. All he wanted was a quiet life in Rubrum Garove where he was left alone to stockpile his nuts.
That was before Mad King Mac came to kidnap his sweet papa and steal all of his nuts and his prize-winning golden nut. Naturally, this aggression will not stand.
Red embarks on a quest to regain his nuts and rescue his pa from Mad King Mac. What starts out as a simple rescue operation becomes much more complicated early on. When he rescues a prisoner in the dungeons, she tells him he’ll have to find relics, magical doors, aid from allies across the kingdom and much more. It turns out rescuing his sweet papa and getting what’s his from Mad King Mac won’t be as easy as he thought.
What makes the story compelling is how little Red cares for anything but finding his nuts and saving his papa. Even when the prisoner he rescues tries to thank him for saving her, he is so focused on his goal that the gratitude she expresses doesn’t register. It is that singular focus and tunnel vision that drives the story.
Even as things get more complex and more wrinkles are added to the narrative, Red only ever cares about his nuts and his papa. This makes Red such an endearing and heartwarming character. More than anything, it is his dedication to his quiet life and restoring it that makes him such a likeable hero. It serves him a lot better than if he accepted his quest to save the kingdom from the Mad King in some righteous crusade. Red cares only about his nuts and his pa, and that is super refreshing.
Rollin’ Rollin’ Rollin’
Red’s goal is simple. It shouldn’t be a surprise that his means of achieving his goal is equally simple.
What Red is preternaturally good at is rolling. He can roll in any four cardinal directions, but not diagonally. When he rolls, he’ll continue rolling until he hits a wall or an object, which means he won’t stop if nothing is in his way.
This makes every room Red enters a puzzle. In order to continue on or move between rooms, you have to plan your moves and carefully navigate given Red’s unstoppable nature. You need to use objects and walls to move around to get closer to an exit. This is also true for collecting items like nuts and opening chests.
Everything starts out easy and without much peril. You explore rooms with easy exit routes that only involve you rolling in straight lines, hitting walls to re-direct. Rooms become more complicated the closer you get to reaching your goal. At first, there are only a few obstacles to avoid. Eventually, you have to navigate around hazards, avoid falling off edges into water or toxic waste, and best enemies that can easily stop your journey in its tracks.
Luckily, Red can damage enemies by rolling into them. However, if he doesn’t do critical damage, he’ll take damage too, meaning if you’re not planning out your moves, you can easily lose your life. When he does roll into an enemy, he’ll be hit backwards in the opposite direction and he won’t stop until he hits an object. So, if you aren’t smart in choosing your direction to hit enemies, you could be killed quickly.
Some instances where enemies are especially dangerous is when they can knock you back off a ledge, into a spiked barrel or between two enemies in a terrible tennis match of death that spells your doom. There are a huge variety of enemies to contend with, ranging from basic enemies to heavies and all other types of enemy variants.
Every room is a puzzle for Red to solve in order to get closer to saving his papa and regaining his nuts. It isn’t simply hazards and enemies that Red will have to contend with. As the pitfalls and perils become more intense, so do the obstacles in his way. In later levels, switches that raise or drop colored blocks lead to rooms where you must complete certain conditions in order to find an exit.
There is a lot of depth to the puzzles. Red’s Kingdom continues to add new elements to the puzzles as you advance and combines familiar ones in ways that are truly challenging. Sometimes you’ll be rolling around a room for awhile until you realize that the solution is to mesh two elements together in ways you never thought of before.
One truly tricky puzzle involves raising up blocks that Red has to roll over while using a ramp to figure out a way to the exit. The major issue with this puzzle is an awkward exit location and a seemingly impossible way to get to it. But the beauty of the game is how satisfying it is to solve tough puzzles like this one, and how most of the solutions come from a simple angle you failed to immediately see.
Red’s Kingdom not only combines traditional adventure game mechanics with puzzle solving, but has some Metroidvania aspects as well. Some rooms are inaccessible until you gain the right power to overcome certain obstacles. This means you’ll have to revisit some areas to find a new trinket or upgrade in order to move forward. It makes for richer exploration of the world, and it further deepens the experience.
Red’s Kingdom is a fun game with a lot of charm. It is unique in its blending of puzzle elements with adventure genre tropes and a bit of Metroidvania map construction. The story and its characters are light and breezy, which makes for a delightful experience.
Red’s Kingdom was reviewed on Nitendo Switch with a code provided by the publisher.
tags: Cobra Mobile , Red's Kingdom , Red's Kingdom Review , review , Rising Star Games