If we played the “first thing that comes to mind game” and I threw out the words “Scarlet Hood And The Wicked Wood” what mental connotations would this lead to? One might think of a fairy tale, say maybe Red Riding Hood, or perhaps a superhero (e.g. DC’s Red Hood), etc. (where did you think I was going with this?). For South Korean developer, Devespresso Games, the title represents their first puzzle-based adventure game. Overall the team did a great job on this one but at times the game seems to lose its identity. The game tries to throw in too many different gameplay elements and for die-hard puzzle gamers, it might be a bit much. Welcome to our Scarlet Hood And The Wicked Wood game review for Steam PC!
First and foremost this is a 2D, side-scrolling story-driven adventure, in fact, at times it plays more like a novel reading story game as a lot of dialogue reading can add to moments of tedium. You play as Scarlet Hood the lead female singer and guitarist for an aspiring rock band. Somewhere along the line you “fall down the rabbit hole” and arrive in the realm of Glome after be tossed in a tornado. You then find yourself leading a group of Munchkins through the Wicked Wood trying to get to safety. The only problem is you need to get past the Black Witch, LeFaba. The developers are not shy about it being known that this game’s story is inspired by The Wizard Of Oz, Red Riding Hood, and Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland mixed, oddly enough, with Southern America Cultural elements. And for a Korean developer, the English translation is perfect! Without completely ruining it the game also incorporates a bit of the “Groundhog Day” time loop phenomenon in it as well.
Yes, this story-driven game does involve lots of puzzles but at times there is lots of “downtime” as you travel from screen to screen and interact with everyone and everything. The game really had a slow start initially for the first hour because of this. It also doesn’t help that some of the dialogue is a bit mundane and the writers at times seemed to go out of their way to use another analogy. These moments seem to eat away at your patience as you’re trying to get to your next puzzle to solve. The anime-inspired artwork though is beautiful and reminiscent at times and the occasional voice-acted cut-scenes are well worth the “cost of travel”.
A Game With An Identity Crisis
At times Scarlet Hood And The Wicked Wood borrows from a few gameplay styles, some of which might catch puzzle gamers like myself off-guard. As you get deeper into this puzzle-based game it all of a sudden forces timed mini-challenges on the player with very little guidance on what to do. It then turns around and borrows from action games by incorporating evasive movements, hit points, stamina concerns, potions, and then survival and stealth gameplay tactics. For a point-and-click adventure gamer, of whom this game is targeted, this might come as a culture shock.
Multiple saves are supported but you can only save at certain “markers” so I did a bit of going back and forth to save my progress. With so many interlaced gameplay elements I made it a habit to find the nearest save point often.
Plenty Of Puzzles
The puzzles themselves are abundant but many won’t challenge die-hard puzzle gamers. Deeper into the game you’ll be better off taking some notes or screenshots with your mobile phone as you come across the typical visual clue needed to solve a puzzle. When you get far enough into it to notice that these puzzles aren’t the most challenging you’ll still feel compelled to finish the game as the presentation elements are quite entertaining. There are also the occasional puzzles where there is little to no explanation or clue on how to solve them. Either that or perhaps I just outright missed a clue somewhere, this could be especially true in those sections where I’ve sprinted to avoid mob damage. In one case for me personally, it came down to trial and error.
A lot of your time is spent traversing a limited, small set of screens looking for puzzles, avoiding enemies, and waiting for your “highlight cursor” to pick up on something. The movement seems to be focused on using a gamepad but I used a mouse and with a little keyboard assist just fine. The only complaint is that the “A” and “D” keys are used to move right and left across the screen. The “F” is used for a special “witch sense” that requires gems to use. On several occasions, I overshot the “D” key and sadly misfired the “F” key wasting a rare, limited resource.
Ironically, given the varied gameplay style, and the amount of dialogue text that needs to be read, Scarlet Hood And The Wicked Wood should do well as a portable game for a system like the Nintendo Switch, which is planned, or the forthcoming Steam Deck!
Note: Our copy was reviewed on Steam PC with a code provided by PR.
COMPARE TO: Similar to the LucasArts adventure games, e.g. Monkey Island