by Matt Porter
reviewed on PC
As good as its influences?
Red Goddess: Inner World is a game that was obviously developed with the likes of Guacamelee, Super Metroid and other Metroidvania style games in mind. Itís an interesting genre - one that encourages backtracking when so many other games are scolded for it. To avoid that sort of criticism, you need more than just the fundamentals to be in place. The character has to be a joy to control. Sadly, our main protagonist in Red Goddess: Inner World isnít, and the rest of the game around her doesnít make up for it.
Action platformers are all about two things: the jumping and the combat. Here, neither feels good. The controls are unresponsive and the jumping feels far too floaty. I was constantly narrowly missing ledges I thought I was going to reach, or over-jumping them entirely. Itís a game desperately in need of a ledge grabbing mechanic. Thankfully the platforming does get a little better about an hour into the game when you unlock the double jump, but thatís an hour of frustration Iíd rather do without. Itís a bit of an odd skill progression system actually, given you get most of the interesting skills first, followed by the rudimentary, albeit essential, double jump.
Divine is the name of the main character, but she also has two other forms: Rage and Fear. In Rage mode, youíre red, and youíll be able to defeat red enemies. In Fear mode, youíre blue, and youíll be able to defeat blue enemies. Itís as simple as that for the most part. You string together combos by hammering on the attack button and you can perform uppercuts and dashes, but this isnít a complex combat system. I found myself just punching enemies and hoping they didnít punch me back, while dashing out of the way of telegraphed charge up attacks.
Not good enough
When there were too many enemies on screen, any semblance of skill went out of the window. Youíre supposed to be switching between modes and attacking the corresponding enemies, but when they all bunch up and surround you itís impossible. When youíre just Divine, you can use a spell to possess certain enemies and have them explode next to their allies. This same spell is used for blasting rocks in the environment out of the way to open up new areas, although some blocks youíll only be able to punch through when youíre in Rage or Fear mode.
Of course, youíll encounter things along the way that you wonít be able to deal with until youíve got some more skills. Divine can cling to vines to help her get higher, but only when sheís unlocked the ability, for some reason. The world traversal isnít strong enough and the environments themselves arenít exciting enough to make you want to go back and find something you couldnít reach before, but most of the time youíre forced to. Some doors and portals only open when youíve collected enough crystals and, more often than not, thereís one you need thatís all the way back where you were ten minutes ago.
I quite like the design of the main character and her two other forms, but everything else is a little too generic. The style of the environments changes between acts, but really the objects are just reskins of things youíve seen before. The story is told through text bubbles, and although thereís quite a lot of it, I never really got the sense that I was actually being told anything. Itís part mystical, part philosophical, about Divineís past and who she is, but it wasnít particularly compelling.
Add the boring combat, frustrating platforming and poor checkpointing to the fact that instant death - thanks to spikes and such - becomes more and more prevalent as the game goes on, and youíve got a recipe for disaster. There was one moment in particular I remember where I saw a crystal on the map below me, so I jumped down the shaft towards it. I have no idea if there was some way I couldíve known this, but a moment later I was burning up in lava. On top of all this, the game just crashed multiple times while I was playing it and sometimes switches needed to open doors simply wouldnít work.
Plenty of games in this style come out all the time on Steam, but itís quite rare we get a gem. Sadly, Red Goddess: Inner World has to be added to the pile along with all the other standard action platformers. Frustration occurs at regular intervals, whether it be to the platforming, the combat or the game just not working. Rage, indeed.
Platforming becomes bearable after you get the double jump.
Loose platforming, boring and simple combat, generic story and environments.