Posted on September 12, 2014, Phil Hornshaw Woolfe – The Red Hood Diaries Preview: Fairy Tales in 2.5D
Every once in a while, a game will tap into the rich literary world of fairy tales and turn out something twisted and weird.
Imagine Red Riding Hood doing something of a turn as Kratos, set during the industrial revolution.
Kickstarter title Woolfe – The Red Hood Diaries is such a fairy tale reimagining, and perhaps most appealing about the game at first blush is its art style. Imagine Red Riding Hood doing something of a turn as Kratos, set during the industrial revolution, and you have an idea of it. Oh, and there are fairy tale characters and tin soldier enemies.
Developer GRIN showed off three snippets of Woolfe at GamesCom, and the pre-alpha build levels offer a very small taste of what the game might eventually become. Checking out the playable builds back Stateside, the big takeaway of my time with the game is the heavy emphasis on platforming.
Woolfe puts players in what’s described as a 2.5-D game world — which basically means sidescrolling, although it’s possible and necessary for players to trek into the fore- and background to move about. The game’s a bit more 3-D than the 2.5-D moniker would usually denote, though; it’s more that the camera is in the stationary position usually seen in side-scrollers.
Most striking about Woolfe is the game’s luscious art that combines a fairytale aesthetic with some industrial, steampunk-like environments. Even in early builds, Woolfe is gorgeous, and the art style suggests some inventive locales to take Red through on her quest.
Platforming in the 2.5D style looks promising, as does potential combat.
Most of what’s seen in the three demo slices has Red Riding Hood doing the basics of platforming, from jumping over rising flames and dodging under intermittently crushy machinery, to using moving platforms to clear gaps. There’s some emphasis in these vertical slices on light puzzles — mostly of the “hit the button then run to the door it opened before it shuts” variety — and the game occasionally dabbles in combat, as well.
It’s important to note that these slices are very simple. There are collectibles throughout that don’t count for anything, elements of the user interface like health seem to be missing, and combat is heavily simplified against AI enemies that don’t seem to have their full potential just yet.
That said, platforming in the 2.5D style looks promising, as does potential combat. A pratfall of the side-on approach can be a difficulty in gauging depth and jump distances, but Woolfe seems good about accommodating players to keep you from accidentally leaping to your death repeatedly because of an inability to accurately judge how close you are to edges, or how far a leap will actually be.
Puzzles are also on the simplistic side in these slices, but hint at classic platforming elements like timed doors and twitch reactions to keep you clear of danger. There’s a bit of jankiness to be found in Red’s jump animation that slightly delays it, but that can probably be chalked up to the pre-alpha state as well.
Combat appears promising, especially in Woolfe’s gameplay videos, which suggest a simple combo style and God of War’s flavor of multi-enemy combat. Red wields a woodcutter’s axe and uses it to plow through enemies like wolves and tin soldiers, and while combat is pretty stripped back in the playable portions I saw, the videos suggest there will be more depth and intensity when more enemies come bearing down on the player. There’s also mention in the Woolfe Kickstarter campaign of magic powers players will have access to for combat and navigation, which will add another level of strategy to fighting through baddies.
Possibly the most interesting element of Woolfe is one that didn’t factor into the gameplay slices offered at Gamescom — a stealth mechanic. Red has the ability to crouch down and move slowly, which seems antithetical to the platforming shown in the build so far. It suggests there are stealthy portions of the game not yet seen, and some variation from the more classic running, jumping and hacking gameplay the rest of Woolfe espouses.
Woolfe recently finished up a Kickstarter funding campaign, clocking in at $66,000 on a $50,000 goal. You can learn more about the game on its official website.