Red’s Kingdom Review
Watch This, You’re Gonna Love My Nuts
It’s become an increasingly common practice for mobile games to get ported over to Steam. Hell, even Square Enix is doing it with their Go games and Deus Ex: The Fall. Thing is, these ports are very rarely good – almost as if something made for cell phones should, in fact, stay on cell phones. Red’s Kingdom, though, is a mobile game that makes for a surprisingly good fit on PC. It helps, too, that it’s a solid game to begin with.
The basic gist of this cute puzzler is that Red, a rotund little squirrel, has had his prized golden nut stolen by an evil king. It also happens that this king has kidnapped and imprisoned people, erm, animals, and locked them away in dungeons spread around the land. While players will inevitably end up helping these little critters out, Red’s primary concern is getting his prized nut back, along with collecting as many nuts (of the not-golden variety) as he can along the way.
Red’s Kingdom is, essentially, what happens when mixing something like Zelda with an intentionally limited control scheme. Red can only roll in a given direction, a la Sonic, and can only do so in straight lines. This makes navigating each area on the map a puzzle in and of itself – players will have to strategically use rocks, shrubbery, and crates to stop themselves in order to get from point A to point B.
It’s easy to grasp, at first, but the game starts throwing some pretty tricky boards at players before they know it. There are also branching paths and open exploration, meaning that players will have to leave a room in the dust and come back to it later once they’ve flipped a switch, opened a gate, or gotten a new ability.
“what happens when mixing something like Zelda with an intentionally limited control scheme”
Controlling Red is a bit of a mixed bag. Using the directional keys feels horrible – there’s a weird dissonance between which key players click and which way Red rolls. This leaves the click-and-drag control scheme, which works well enough; point at Red, click and drag in the intended direction, then let go and watch him fly – pretty simple stuff.
That said, it is very clear that this is a game made for smartphones and tablets. It works well enough on this platform, and if someone doesn’t have access to a touchscreen device, it’s not a bad way to play it. But it certainly doesn’t feel like the preferred way to play it, and in fact, I plan to get it on my Pixel C and play it that way.
Which should point to the fact that, yes, I like Red’s Kingdom enough to spend my own money on it. The animated cutscenes are limited, sure, and it’s not exactly the most complex game in the world. But it has a very cute art direction, relaxing music, and small puzzles that are fun to plug away at in 20-30 minute chunks. There’s also a bit of a collect-a-thon vibe to it, which I’m all about. This is a title that clearly had a lot of heart behind it, and a lot of effort went into making puzzles that weren’t too simple yet not punishing – perfect for kids and people looking for some light brainteasers.
If you’re in the market for a cute, cheap and charming puzzle game for all ages, you could do a lot worse than Red’s Kingdom. However, I’d recommend you pick it up for a touch device instead, if you can.