by Quinn Levandoski
reviewed on PC
Three characters, a couple of attacks and a horde of enemies
Red Risk is a simple game. As one of three different characters, wielding either an ax, pistol or sniper rifle, you need to survive increasingly tough waves of hellish enemies trying to rip you apart. All you can do is move, attack and do a special, which is, in all three cases, really just a slightly stronger or faster version of your standard attack. The game’s simplicity makes it a nice game to pick-up-and-play for a few minutes here and there, but the lack of depth and some strange design choices detract from the longevity of enjoying it.
Weird controls and game mechanics
Red Risk took a little bit longer for me to get the hang of than I thought it would, largely in part to its odd controls and some unnecessary systems. A game like this, playing much like a twin-stick shooter, should be a natural fit for controller support, but it doesn’t let you use anything except a mouse and keyboard. Moving is done by holding down the right mouse button, shooting is the left mouse button and the keyboard lets you do your special, reload and check your inventory/stats. It’s not very intuitive and the developers really need to consider either allowing custom controls or implementing a WASD option. I was also frustrated by the fact that I couldn’t shoot while moving. I suppose maybe they were going for an early Resident Evil feel, but in a game where you’ll be swarmed by enemies in often-tight spaces, it just comes across as annoying.
There are a few things in Red Risk that almost seem to suggest that there were going to be some deeper mechanics implemented at one point, but they were either ditched, or just never developed very far. For instance, when you open you inventory you can see, among a few other things, your hunger, thirst and items. The hunger and thirst are the ones that struck me as the most odd. As you play, over the course of, maybe, 5-15 minutes, your character builds hunger and thirst. Not only does it not really make much sense logically, but managing it doesn’t take any strategy or skill. Enemies will, fairly frequently, drop water and food capsules that will automatically bring your hunger and thirst down, otherwise you can spend points and the item rack to quench them. I never had to use the points, as there are enough capsules dropped that it shouldn’t be an issue. I also never got any items in my inventory. Maybe I was just extremely unlucky and missed them all, but I played a pretty good amount. I would have loved to see some items, a skill tree or even a more logical resource system (maybe not food and water, but something else), as after about an hour I began to grow pretty bored of the game.
Multiplayer to the rescue
Red Risk has two game modes: single player and online multiplayer. Both are exactly the same, except for the ability to team up with a few allies in multiplayer. Multiplayer is undoubtedly the way to go. When playing solo, there comes a time in each match - and it was only a few rounds in - where I would be overwhelmed to the point I literally don’t think it was possible to progress. I didn’t feel like I just needed to play better. I didn’t feel like there was something I was missing. There were just so many bad guys (which are, by the way, pretty nightmare-inducing as you get deeper in) on screen, with so much health, that I don’t think it was possible to progress alone.
This is where multiplayer improves things a bit. Each of the three characters has their strengths and weaknesses, which become roadblocks alone. Together with others there’s more possibilities to play slightly more tactically. Unfortunately, I had a difficult time finding multiplayer games most of the time, but when I did we were able to make it fairly deep and I did enjoy myself. Even multiplayer is marred by some odd decisions though. First, if you’re joining another host’s game and you die, you don’t lose a life and come back, or wait until the next wave or anything like that. Instead, you’re instantly booted to the game’s main menu, where you can navigate back to the game and instantly hop back in. Conversely, if it’s the host that dies, the game is instantly over. It’s a rather frustrating system, and one that doesn’t make much sense to me.
I fully understand that games being sold at budget price need to be held to different standards than ones costing five or ten times more, but, at the same time, a game needs to be fun no matter what. Red Risk does have its moments. I enjoyed some of the creepier character designs and things can click when you’re able to find a multiplayer game to join. Unfortunately much of that fun is short lived due to repetitive gameplay, a lack of depth and some questionable design decisions. There are worse ways to spend five bucks, but there are games with much more longevity out there for not much more.
Multiplayer can be fun, monster designs are cool.
Odd controls, half-implemented resource system, questionable multiplayer design, gets repetitive fairly quickly.