Red’s Kingdom is the latest of the mobile to Switch game ports, but does this whimsical game offer enough to make it worth your time?
In Red’s Kingdom, you play as the titular character of Red, who wakes up to discover that the King has broken into his house, stolen all his nuts, his Papa and most importantly his prized Golden Nut as soon as he realises, Red sets out after the King. Fairly quickly Red meets a prisoner, who gives Red a little device that allows them to talk over distance and points Red towards the Professor who might be able to assist Red recover his stolen nuts and his Papa. The story is a little basic, with no real twists found, but it is charming enough and I could have seen mobile gamers appreciating the smaller scale story.
One part that is not small scale is the size of the world, it is massive and getting around it is challenging and that is not because it is so big, but because of the games main mechanic, you can only roll in a single direction. The problem is that, when you are in rooms with puzzles to be solved, the rolling is fun and makes the game more of a challenge, but when you are just trying to get around, it sucks. Red can only move around by rolling in a single direction and you can’t change his aim, until he comes to a stop, which as I said with puzzles can be fun, but it takes some getting used to. Thankfully the first few screens give you a chance to really understand the mechanic and by the time you meet the professor, you should have a solid understand of how it works.
There are plenty of hazards and elements that will get in your way though, things like spike pits will hurt you the moment you touch them, same with the guards that you will find around the world at random. Other things, like stone blocks that rise from the ground or stick squares that stop you will help you get around faster, or change things up, but he problem is that none of that matters to greatly as all the puzzles have a single way to solve them and until you work out how, the game does not let you move forward. Some rooms that you enter will have a locked door, or a set of bars covering the exit you need, but the way forward is not always found in the same room, sometimes you need to get out of that room, locate your way forward in another room and then return back to that first one, which highlights the games biggest issue, the movement.
Yeah, as I mentioned the movement is done by rolling around, which in puzzles works great, the issue comes from when you need to get from one space back to another, you still have to go through the puzzles, only this time in reverse. Some rooms will allow for a quick return, but they are few and far between, meaning you have to take a dozen steps into order to leave a room you already cleared, it is not fun. The game offers warp pads to help you get around easier, which unlock as you find them, but they can only take to you to a general area, you still then need to roll around to the actual location. As I mentioned the puzzles make the movement fun, because you get a chance to do something interesting, but the puzzles are not hard, at least not to me, which was a little frustrating.
Some puzzles will look like a challenge when you first look upon then, but as you roll around, you will trigger some stone blocks to rise from the ground, which will result in the solution becoming clear, at least most of the time. Some have switches that need to be flipped, which can change some things around, but most of those are rare, usually all you get is a door or grate being opened. There were maybe three or four times when puzzle had me stumped for any significant amount of time, which resulted in poor Red rolling around back and forth for minutes on end, each time, but again once I was able to work out the solution, it took all over a moment to get out of the room.
Where the game falls flat though is the visuals and I don’t mean the world design, as I said that is huge and looks great, the world has multiple regions, all of which look nice, it is the character that let the game down. Red, the King, Papa and the rest all look like early 2000’s flash animation characters and they have about the same amount of animations, which means in cutscenes, all you get is at most Red bouncing around and flailing his arms in the air and at worst, you get a static image. I get that the game was built of mobile first, but console gamers expect a little more than this, so seeing it is a real letdown.
Red’s Kingdom is a solid puzzle adventure game, its movement style helps make even the most basic of puzzles enjoyable, but that same movement system hurts the game when you are just trying to backtrack or go elsewhere. Some puzzles are quite a but more challenging than the rest, but the overall level of difficulty is falls towards the lower end of the scale, which makes it perfect for younger players, but not a true challenge for the rest.