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. It’s 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 isn’t, and the rest of the game around her doesn’t 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. It’s 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 that’s an hour of frustration I’d rather do without. It’s 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, you’re red, and you’ll be able to defeat red enemies. In Fear mode, you’re blue, and you’ll be able to defeat blue enemies. It’s 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 isn’t a complex combat system. I found myself just punching enemies and hoping they didn’t 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. You’re supposed to be switching between modes and attacking the corresponding enemies, but when they all bunch up and surround you it’s impossible. When you’re 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 you’ll only be able to punch through when you’re in Rage or Fear mode.
Of course, you’ll encounter things along the way that you won’t be able to deal with until you’ve got some more skills. Divine can cling to vines to help her get higher, but only when she’s unlocked the ability, for some reason. The world traversal isn’t strong enough and the environments themselves aren’t exciting enough to make you want to go back and find something you couldn’t reach before, but most of the time you’re forced to. Some doors and portals only open when you’ve collected enough crystals and, more often than not, there’s one you need that’s 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 you’ve seen before. The story is told through text bubbles, and although there’s quite a lot of it, I never really got the sense that I was actually being told anything. It’s part mystical, part philosophical, about Divine’s past and who she is, but it wasn’t 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 you’ve 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 could’ve 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 wouldn’t work.
Plenty of games in this style come out all the time on Steam, but it’s 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.