Disclaimer: When the review code was sent to us, there was no mention of incompatibility with Windows 10 from the developer, and the PC requirements on Steam do not specifically state that the game is incompatible with this OS. The developer has since been in touch to clarify the issue. We can’t comment on how better the game fares on a Windows 7 computer as we do not have the necessary equipment. (Edited for transparency).
Red Goddess: Inner World first made its presence known with a Kickstarter campaign which asked for the modest goal of $30,000. The project attracted a total of 1,276 backers who raised $40,235, hoping that Yanim Studio would create something good, maybe even great, with that money. Red Goddess is a game that aims to explore the nature of the mind using protagonist Divine’s emotions, namely Rage & Fear. Much like Divine’s emotional duality Red Goddess has two sides to it, with one clearly dominating.
The story of Red Goddess: Inner World focuses on Divine and her mind. Physically she is drifting through a void, but mentally she is exploring the inner recesses of her mind trying to piece together memories in the hope that she can learn how she arrived in this predicament. Her primary emotions, Rage & Fear, allow Divine to transform into either a red or blue creature with each colour representing those feelings.
Journeying through Divine’s mind you’ll run into negative thoughts, which are colour coded red and blue. The blue enemies have to be destroyed with the Fear transformation, while red enemies are dealt with by Rage. Combat relies on an attack button and using directions to change moves. You also unlock special moves later on which require another input, but other than that you’ll be button bashing through Red Goddess most of the time.
There doesn’t seem to be much nuance with the colour coded enemies as a result. Sure you can’t kill a blue enemy while you’re Rage, but you can still hit them and stop their attacks as they crowd around. That’s fine to do but makes the enemy split almost pointless. In fact combat isn’t that rewarding as a whole due to its repetitive nature, including the bosses. While each boss has different attacks the majority have the same weaknesses, which are two crystals that have to be destroyed.
They are ultimately simple fights with the absolute hardest part of them being having to deal with the frame rate drops, which somehow manage to affect the hit detection. When Red Goddess is running smoothly there is no issue, but once things slow down the same moves that worked before just stop doing any damage. Even on the absolute lowest settings there are constant drops in frame rate. These are most noticeable in areas that have lots of enemies performing attacks, and areas where parts of the environment are shifting quickly.
This is compounded by other problems when you come to platform sections in the metroidvania world of Red Goddess. There are sections which are built in a way that slow you down, while mixing together various movement controls. For example in one section you need to move up while navigating a route with spiked branches. This requires double jumping, levitating, and boost jumps in tight spaces. The route feels too small and trying to perform the various movements in quick succession quickly becomes frustrating, especially since mana is consumed as you levitate.
These types of areas appear over and over, feeling like a hindrance more than a worthy challenge. You need to make the perfect jump to make sure you have the perfect height to move across the perfect length required to land on a platform. There doesn’t feel like there’s any allowance for error. Sometimes though Divine will just fall through a platform instead of landing on it, and if there is a hazard below then it is instant death, which negates the health bar you have and can upgrade. The health bar is only applicable in combat and nowhere else, with all hazards being one hit kills.
Red Goddess crashed on me a number of times too with no real stand out reason. It just seemed to happen over and over. Luckily the checkpoint system is forgiving so progress wasn’t affected too much, but having the game crash is very annoying. Combine that with the framerate drops, the temperamental hit detection, and falling through platforms makes it feel like that Red Goddess needed more time before releasing.
It’s a shame really because Yanim Studio clearly has talent when it comes to character and world design, with the art style being very eye catching. The colours just shine throughout, even in the darker caves. The Divine, Fear, and Rage character designs look good, with the latter two having good visual cues of what they represent even without the colour coding. The music too is well composed, and while there isn’t a huge track variety what is there is pretty memorable.
A good platformer puts together well constructed levels and a decent challenge, while a great platformer has levels that encourage you to take risks and move through as fast as possible while offering fun challenges to tackle. Sadly Red Goddess doesn’t offer any of these. Instead it feels like you are fighting the game every step of the way, and this is frustrating because of how much promise there is underneath all the problems. Given more time I’m sure Yanim Studio could have nailed this on the first attempt, but instead Red Goddess: Inner World’s bugs dominate against the gameplay.
Version tested: PC