Genre: Horror, Adventure, Action
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Age Rating: PEGI 18
A code was provided for review purposes
I am a big fan of the 2.5 horror format. Having played and reviewed both Coma games as well as thoroughly enjoying games like Detention, the thought of a zombie-based game was intriguing to me. There is a lot that could be done with this genre. Having read the premise to this game, I was definitely more than ready to give Red Colony a go.
How did I find my time trapped in the zombie apocalypse? Did I enjoy the unique slant the devs gave the story? Keep reading this Rapid Review to find out.
The Elephant in the Lab
Before we get into the game, I do need to talk about the obvious elephant in the lab. There is no other way to say it that, this game is heavily, and overly sexualized. To think about the furore recently about Sense – A Cyberpunk Ghost Story, and then to see a game like Red Colony, confounds me. I won’t push the issue but I found the babysitter image they used.
There is nothing mentioned in the write up about the game, beyond the screenshots, to draw your attention to this. I think this is a shame. I am not a prude by any stretch of the imagination, but I found it ludicrous that the game got away with what it did. The amount of clothing you are wearing is an indication of your overall health. Not that I ever came close to dying, even when I did run my health down low – to confirm my thoughts above. Secondly, a substantial portion of the story is spent obsessive over adultery, getting blind drunk and dropping the f-bomb every other line.
The Combination of Weak and Lazy Writing
I know that this game is made by a non-English speaking dev team, but there are just too many errors to let it pass as anything other than lazy writing. Everything from spelling to tense and general incorrect word usage. This is only compounded by what needs to be described as lazy writing.
The real part of the story is all dropped on you in the final act of the game. When it does, it makes little to no sense. It is a case of writers trying to do something new and unique with what is a heavily saturated genre. However, they failed on all counts. The story is bizarre, and while I won’t give it away, I will say that space dinosaurs are to blame. Yeah, you never see that coming, and it makes even less sense than it sounds.
I am all for trying new things and experimenting with ideas, however, there would have been multiple places in the development cycle where someone should have stood up and asked, are we really doing the right thing here?
Uninspiring Gameplay Makes for a Tedious but Short Experience
I don’t like to be too negative when reviewing games because I appreciate the work that has gone into their creation. However, I do feel the need to be somewhat brutal here. The game is short, taking no more than a couple of hours to run through. By this, I mean run in the literal sense. While playing I never walked, and never needed to do anything stealthier than crawl under a table. I killed almost every zombie with a knife, only using guns towards the end to see how they worked.
I feel almost cheated for a game based in the middle of a zombie apocalypse to offer so little in the form of both story and engagement. The character interactions were crude and their artwork lewd, and this got boring very fast. The gameplay was weak. The interactions never went beyond pressing A to pick something up or save the game. Even saves seemed rather pointless as dying seems rather impossible.
A Horror Game?
The game’s premise is the zombie apocalypse, but you rarely come across more than one zombie at a time. These encounters are interspersed with long periods of what amounts to a walking simulator. It all adds up to a game that is full of potential but fails when it comes to delivery.
I kept hoping that there would be some good scares or creepy moments to help salvage it, however, there was nothing.
There is nothing scary or remotely tense about this game. This only added to my disappointment because it meant there were no saving graces beyond the game’s short length.
Continuity Errors in Gameplay
While I am not sure if it was a bug or not, I was left feeling somewhat perplexed that I was able to shoot a character, killing him beyond any doubt, only for him to kill me in the ending cut scene thus giving me the ‘bad ending’. I could overlook this but one act earlier, I was in the same position with another character, who would not feature again, and I was not able to shoot her at all. It just felt muddled as if the game itself did not know what it was.
As I reflect when editing this review, I do wonder if my decision to kill the character could be why he comes back, but that would not make sense with the death animation (headshot). There was also nothing in the story that gave any clue as to this being the case.
It was this level of inconsistency that made Red Colony such a disappointment.
When you boil it down, Red Colony looks and feels as if it was a game built by a bunch of over-sexed adolescents. Everything about it felt rushed, cheap, and ultimately pointless. I was hoping for a survival game with stealth and scares. What we were given was a jumbled mess of thoughts that look like everybody on the team got a chance to build something they wanted without any thought to continuity or design.
I think the developers should have mentioned the over-sexualized nature of the game in their write up. It is not even alluded to in the text on the eShop. If more attention had been given to the few puzzles the game had, rather than listing the answers without so much as a riddle, then perhaps this game could have been saved somewhat.
While Red Colony is not the worst game I have played, however, it is far from being good. I would struggle to recommend it.
Rapid Reviews Rating
You can get your copy of Red Colony from the Nintendo eShop here.
You can find and read our reviews on OpenCritic.