Red sky at night, gamer’s delight!
What’s in a name, anyway? It’s not as if anyone ever expected Resident Evil to be about an apartment block tenant who leaves his garbage in the hallway, or Metal Gear Solid to be a puzzle game about arranging adamantium cogs. The team at iFun4all decided to skip many sleepless nights ponderously scrawling prospective titles like “Skeletal Bird Thing Simulator?” on post-it notes before tossing them into the bin with frustration. Instead, they’ve conceded their game’s lack of a brilliant descriptor, and have focused on making a solid arcade puzzler.
Red Game Without A Great Name focuses on the travails of a mechanical bird made by a crazed inventor to deliver the mail. Given this inventor lives in a world full of gigantic barbed wire covered windmills, you can’t exactly blame him for not wanting to pop down the post office. It’s up to you to guide the bird through danger filled levels to deliver the mail safely to a cage at the end. Your sole input as a player is clicking and dragging our avian protagonist across the screen, teleporting it to another location. Though it sounds a pretty limited mode of interaction, it’s merely the gateway to some really frantic fun.
The first several levels ease you into Red Game’s basic concepts, and new systems are constantly introduced. The bird flies continuously in one direction as the screen scrolls across the landscape, and you have to try and keep him from from flying off the screen, whilst avoiding the numerous obstacles in your path. This gets more convoluted with the introduction of switches and steam pipes. Instead of simply timing your teleports through the inexpicably existant crushing machines that litter the levels, you’ll have to think laterally. You might need to fly into the steam pipe to change the bird’s direction of travel, so when you next teleport, it flies up into a switch which deactivates some spikes, which in turn gives you a new safe haven to outrun the continually panning screen’s borders of doom. The increasing complexity of the puzzles will test both your twitchy fingers and your lateral thinking capabilities.
Along with a smoothly rising difficulty curve, there’s also a big replayability hook to keep devoted players interested. Every level has three gears to collect, which require making risky detours on your path. Grabbing these gears often requires the help of some handy timed power-ups, such as one that lets you teleport into destructible scenery and shatter it, often revealing goodies inside. There’s even a an invincibility power-up that lets you cleverly turn the whirling windmill blades of death you frequently encounter into a boon, allowing you to ride them towards the exit or another collectible (it’ll only protect you from becoming diced chicken for a few seconds though).
I was definitely tempted to grab all the gears on each level, but it was always my choice and my responsibility when my adventurous spirit led to my demise. I could never blame a death on not getting the information I needed or poor controls. This is particularly fortunate as the difficulty is really ramped up in the later levels, with the screen rotating and panning to disorient you. Even as my bird was garrotted by a sharp-tipped killing device for the hundredth time, I just gave Red Game a proverbial good natured punch on the arm and a “Ya got me again, you cheeky bastard!” before having another go.
Red Game Without A Great Name is a fitting title, at least, in terms of the game’s aesthetic, as almost everything in its noirishly steampunk world seems to be a shade of black or crimson. This unique two-toned setting provides a starkly bleak landscape: the perfect tableu for a place where literally everything is trying to kill you. The electro swing score is just quaint and old-fashioned enough to fit the surroundings, while keeping your foot tapping to the endless cycle of ornithological death and rebirth.
Red Game Without a Great Name is a fairly brisk, transient experience, clocking in at a few hours of playtime for the main campaign. It succeeds on its own fairly unambitious terms, and is just as modest as its title. It’s a time-killing mobile touchscreen puzzle game that happens to have a PC version as well. It was created to satiate a gamer’s primal desire to avoid spiky objects while travelling at high speeds and it does so admirably. Sometimes it’s nice to have a functional, fun game that doesn’t overreach: a game that does what it says on the tin. It doesn’t aspire to be a truly great game, but it doesn’t pretend to have a great name either.
Final Verdict: 3.5 / 5
Available on: PC (Reviewed) , Mac, iOS; Publisher: iFun4all Ltd; Developer: iFun4all Ltd; Players: 1; Released: Dec 9, 2015;
Full Disclosure: The PC version of Red Game Without A Great Name was provided to HeyPoorPlayer by the publisher