Sunday, January 30, 2011

Flash Game Review: REDDER

REDDER is exploration in its purest form. No leveling up. No upgrades to collect. Just plain old simple exploration.

Wait, did I say "plain old simple exploration?" What I meant to say is unique, challenging, and deeply rewarding exploration. The jumping at first feels off, but it's not; more like how Mario feels slippery until you realize it's better that way because it's predictable and master-able. You can control the height of your jumps the longer you hold the button...nothing new I grant you, but your astronaut (or maybe cosmonaut...the game is called REDDER after all) can jump really high, and you can stop your vertical ascent at any point by letting go of the jump button. This leads to some tricky puzzle type setups where you need to time your jumps just right in order to secure your prize.

That last part might make the game sound hard. It isn' least, not for an Auntie Pixelante game. Anyone who has the patience to beat a Mario game (or even a Sonic game) could beat this without too much trouble. Checkpoints are common; that's a blessing. I like the ability to warp to a checkpoint and your ship too; it makes some of the exploration more less boring (not to imply the game is boring because it isn't).

The music is very fitting and catchy, and just when you start to get tired of it...*SPOILERS*

You've collected enough gems to start to warp and glitch the world enough to also warp the music. It's all an awesome, unexpected, and thoroughly enjoyable moment, while also motivating the player to continue collecting gems just to see what happens next. I'd have said the story was simple and cliched; astronaut lands on planet, needs fuel (or is greedy and wants to collect gems that the ship detected), must escape, etc. but this added element throws a wrench in the synopsis. Although there is no overt storytelling in the game, I like to imagine that the reason the visuals and sound start warping are because: A - The astronaut is running out of oxygen and is starting to hallucinate. B - The gems the astronaut is collecting are radioactive and therefore the more the astronaut collects the more the astronaut hallucinates. C - The astronaut is simply having hallucinations due to isolation. Or D - A combination of A, B, and C. Of course, you could just say it's a cool design decision and leave it at that.

I should also mention that I like the main puzzle mechanic too. The red and green switches (that in turn activate red and green platforms, but only one color can be active at a time) can lead to some really cool gameplay moments. I found myself thinking "My, that's clever," over and over again.

The endgame scenario (when you've collected every gem) is awesome too. The complete breakdown into Atari 2600 style graphics and sound (minus the music) is super rad. I love the idea that this game, as complicated as it is, could have been possible on an Atari (if it could be squeezed down to like 5KB or whatever the max filesize an Atari 2600 game is).

So far, I think this is Anna Anthropy's crowning achievement. Mighty Jill Off is good, but in my opinion just isn't as fun or engaging as REDDER.

Long review longer: REDDER is so good I'd pay money for it. I mean it. Put it up on XBLA and I'd pay $5 for it as is. I MEAN IT...although I guess hypothetically you'd have to add a leaderboard (speedruns would be super fun) and achievements (halfway there's the another six off the top of my head: Beat the game without dying. Beat the game in less that ? minutes. Collect enough gems to start hallucinating visually. Collect enough gems to start hallucinating aurally. Collect enough gems to BLEEP BLEEP BLOOP BLOOP. Start your game over after having collected every gem and 100% map cleared), but it would be worth it.

Thanks Auntie Pixelante for such a great experience!

10/10 A++++ High Honors etc.

No comments: