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Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Red Goddess: Inner World



Red Goddess: Inner World
Developed by: Yanim Studio
Published by: Yanim Studio
Release Date: September 1 2015 - PC, June 30- PS4
Available on: Steam - Supplied by Developer , PS4 - not played
Video: Spotlight on Red Goddess: Inner World

I covered the early Red Goddess demo a couple years ago when Yanim Studios had posted their kickstarter. I enjoyed almost every aspect of the demo as it was presented and was really looking forward to checking it out in full. Well the day came that Yanim felt Red Goddess was ready to shine in the light but only on console, booo. It was subsequently lambasted by reviewers citing long load times, too much precision required during jumps and poor combat. This put a damper on my day when I read those but I held out hope that those issues were limited to the console version or would be patched by the time it came to PC.

When I received my review code for Red Goddess I have to say I was excited but lacked the time to do anything with it up until only a few days before launch. When I loaded it up I was presented with a nice voice acted intro sequence telling me about what happened to bring out little Divine to this world. Although it was short and very simple, it was very well done with some nice narration. You then find yourself in a small narrow area that acts as both a tutorial and the pathway into the world Divine will be exploring.

Tutorial Level leading down to the main world
One of the first things you'll notice is the art style, it's a nice subtle cartoon style that uses pastels and low poly environments that just pop. Characters match this art style without blending into the background nor looking out of place. Animations are smooth with little details, such as when Divine lands she does a little kneel that blends into her movement animation.

Divine gains a multitude of power-ups that help her navigate the world better while also unlocking new areas to explore. Quite early on you gain the ability to switch into two other forms that are used mostly for combat. A blue form that is referred to as fear, and a red form known as rage. You can switch between these two forms and back to Divines human form at any time. Other than their color Divines two combat forms have little distinguishing them from each other, both are slower than Divine, both are able to attack enemies and blocks of their own color but are useless against the opposite color.

Divines rage form attacking a red enemy
Little touches like those make it all the more heart breaking when you come across some of the glaring issues the game has. I played the game with a 3rd party Xbox 360 controller, which you would think being a console port would be the best way to play it. I experienced a one to two second delay when trying to switch to a chosen form, This is detrimental in a fight where you have to deal with a mix of enemies that are only vulnerable to a specific form. On other occasions the dodge roll would not fire at all and I found myself having to mash the dodge button several times to get it to trigger. Jump button not jumping, not grabbing vines when you have that ability, enemies firing projectiles through solid objects, these are just some of the issues I've experienced in the first few hours of the game.

Fire projectile going right through the wall
On top of the movement issues, I also noticed some major issues with hitboxes. On multiple occasions I made contact with spikes or other hazards without actually contacting them, I was close but not contacting them in anyway. Boss fights really show the failings of the combat system and can be a source of endless frustration and anger. To make matters worse you are unable to skip cutscenes and have to endure them each and every time you have to redo a section.

Hitting spikes without making contact, one hit kill


During boss fights there are times where it appears that you should be far enough away from an attack but still end up taking damage. When you slow it down you notice that you take damage before the attack finishes. In the case of the first boss' stomp attack it can hit you while you're not in contact with the ground. This has ended in some fairly aggravating deaths that left me thinking WTF?! How did that hit me? Not a fun experience. Boss fights also showcase another issue, because during a boss fight there are many enemies on screen it's very easy to lose track of Divine. She for some reason is always behind the enemies instead of in front of them, this makes her disappear in the myriad of monsters and particle effects.

Boss stomping on my...um air? slowed to 25% normal speed
The platforming is mostly enjoyable, some sections feel like they were not so much designed as just tossed about haphazardly. It can get really frustrating when you're trying to do a section with falling platforms and you keep clinging to a vine unable to make the next jump. It's even more amazing when the platform falls without you even touching it.

Platforming at it's finest

Red Goddess runs at a respectable framerate of 75-84 FPS on the ULTRA preset on my modest i5-2500, GTX-960. I set it to LOW in hopes that it would correct the control issues, not only did it not help the controls it also not surprisingly made the game look much worse.

Overall Red Goddess is a beautiful game with an intriguing story that is let down by it's mediocre controls and bad hit detection. I really wanted to like this game and to be honest there is nothing major wrong with it. Red Goddess could be a great game is they made some minor changes to the way attacks hit, improved the responsiveness of the controls and move Divine to the foreground.

Conclusion:

Pros
  • Performance
  • Art style
  • Setting and story
  • Graphical options


Cons
  • Movement is too floaty
  • Hitboxes are too big or improperly aligned
  • Controls are slow to respond
  • Not clear when player regains control
  • Divine is behind enemies
  • Attacks don't respond logically

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