Familiar and flawed.
I want every game to be great. Sadly, that is not the reality. There are so many titles nowadays that it can be impossible to keep track of them all. Red Goddess: Inner World falls under that banner. Most people I talk to have never heard of it, and when others ask me about it, I simply cannot recommend it due to its collection of problems. Sadly it feels like this will be another game that gets lost in the ether.
Red Goddess should feel familiar to anyone who has been playing games for a while. It is an indie 2D platformer with gated areas, not unlike a Metroid title. There is combat and plenty of platforming to conquer, plus an interesting narrative with a different approach. On paper this all sounds great. I love a solid platformer focused on exploration and puzzle-solving, but Inner World’s execution is where things fall flat.
Platforms: PS4, PC
Price I’d Pay: $4.99
Let’s start with what works. The story is told mostly through a narrator, not unlike Bastion. It follows a character named Divine as she works through a world that is actually inside of her. Flashbacks are used to uncover memories, as well as her special powers. The game does a great job of being vague about who can be trusted, and who the enemies are. It is an interesting tale that is only bogged down by some poor translation errors and a bit too much interruption from the narrator.
Where the game falls apart is in its game play. Let’s start with the combat. Divine has several attacks, but the main one is melee. She can directly attack enemies while also rolling away using the right stick, or bumper buttons. Sadly, more often than not I would get looped into animations of attacking enemies. Get knocked down, try to get up, get knocked right back down. It is frustrating. Her other attacks are not much help either. The fireball consumes tons of my magic meter, and it takes forever to build it back up. It is also not very effective.
Divine can also transform into other forms, which is a cool dynamic, but weirdly mapped on the controller. This also does not solve the issue with the melee combat sadly.
The platforming should be the saving grace right? Well, it isn’t. Exploring the world and collecting shards to unlock new areas is a great idea, but there are frustrating sections at every turn. Combine that with the technical issues the game presents, and I found myself repeating areas constantly. With sparse checkpoints and long load times, it quickly became a test of my patience. Failing because of my own mistakes is fine. Failing because the game stutters to load, or fails to load entirely is downright infuriating.
The technical issues were really my biggest concern. In addition to the poor load times and hitching between jumps, there were numerous glitches that simply impeded progress. I ran into sections where events would not trigger, causing me to reload, areas that did not load, causing me to reload, characters getting stuck in the world, causing me to reload. All these reloads are frustrating due to the long load times, and most of the experience is spent like this, making Red Goddess feel like a chore to play at times. The developers have said they are working on a patch to remedy these issues, but as of this writing, it does not exist.
Visually the game looks good. I like the style of the characters, and the world feels alive. Of course, once again the technical issues crop up and detract from an otherwise pleasant experience. The music is ambient and fits the world, and the voice work is actually well done. I really enjoyed the narrator; his tone is nearly perfect.
Red Goddess: Inner World is kind of a mess technically, and that just drags down the experience. I truly hope the developers get a working patch to sort out the issues, but as of now it is just too much to recommend. The ideas are sound, and the story is interesting, but too much holds it back. I feel like it should have waited for release, as once again this title will likely be forgotten long before it is fixed.
I did try out the game after a patch that was deployed shortly after I wrote this review. Some of the stuttering and glitches had been fixed, but there are still plenty present. Hoping the game continues to improve technically. These changes do not affect my original score of the game.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.