When you play games for a good portion of your time like I do, it can be hard for one game to break through the noise and really stand out of the riff raff. But, when a game does, I know I'm going to be in for a wild ride.
Red's Kingdom is a perfectly crafted adventure puzzle game that has a lot of depth. The goofy but heartwarming story with its colorful characters is bound to grab your attention, and the incredibly fun gameplay never seems to go stale as the game layers in plenty of elements to surprise you at every turn.
Buckle up: It's time to go on a nutty adventure!
Story & Setting
Perhaps I'm a little jaded, but I didn't think I would be able to write about the story in a puzzle game, but Red's Kingdom surprised me early on and I was captivated.
Red's Kingdom starts out with a little cutscene that manages to pack a decent amount of plot into a short amount of time. The scene takes place in less than two minutes, and just by watching it I managed to feel a little emotional attachment to the hero of the story. It threw me completely off guard, but in the best possible way, I was instantly hooked on the story.
You play as Red, a toothy red squirrel, who is on a mission to retrieve his Golden Nut from the Mad King Mac. Oh, did I mention he also kidnapped Red's father? As you chase after the King — a very nasty gray squirrel — you meet a colorful cast of supporting characters along the way, who manage to stick out in your mind, despite having only a few moments of screen time. Before long I was finding myself looking forward to speaking with the next person I came across in Red's travels
A big reason the characters manage to make an impact is due to the cleverness of the writing. As a wordsmith myself, I find it hard to resist a good pun, and Red's Kingdom throws out a lot of them, often giving me a good chuckle in the process. Plus, the game somehow keeps its childish charm, all while finding room for some adult-aimed humor usually centering around the double meaning of the word "nuts". It reminded me of how I feel watching a Disney or Pixar movie as an adult, it's still very enjoyable, but you'll pick up on things that kids won't and it becomes like an inside joke between you and the movie (or game in this case).
Controlling Red with a series of directional swipes, you must make it through each "room" on the map, collecting nuts as you go along. As with most puzzle games the controls are super simple, swipe in the direction you want Red to roll, he will roll until an object stops him.
The key to any great puzzle game is finding the right balance between challenge level and fun level. The game has to be difficult enough to warrant using some brain power, but still "easy" enough to keep a player from feeling hopeless; Red's Kingdom strikes the perfect balance.
Each puzzle builds on the last, making each room just a tad harder to traverse, but never feeling like you're completely lost. In the beginning, I found that a good minute or two of studying the room and examining each move carefully was enough to solve the problem; however, as you progress, the game doesn't just get harder, it changes slightly.
The first two areas of the game, like most puzzle games, are pretty linear. You must make it from point A to point B, avoiding obstacles; however, once you progress to the third big area in Red's Kingdom, the game becomes much more of an "open world".
You'll start to notice multiple exits to each room and even newer obstacles or enemies that you can't always tackle right away. You may be missing an ability or an item that you need to move on, causing you to go on a hunt for said missing ability or item. It's at this point I realized that Red's Kingdom feels much more like an adventure game with great puzzles reminiscent of Zelda games of old.
The game keeps you guessing on where to go next and forces you to explore the each room more thoroughly. There are a fair amount of hidden treasures as well, which make exploring worthwhile and doesn't slow down the pace of the game.
Design & Sound
The game is very cartoonish, both in tone and design, and the graphics aren't mind-blowing in any way; however, each area has it's own distinct look and keeps the game looking fresh. Lush greens, bright pinks, and other neon colors will greet you in a lot of the outdoor areas, whereas deep browns, slate grays, and other darker hues await you in the castle areas.
On occasion, the way the map is laid out, it's a little hard to tell exactly where Red will end up when you swipe in a given direction. Luckily, it seems the developers — Cobra Mobile — caught this minor drawback and offered a pretty easy solution. By tapping and holding on Red, a faint dotted line will appear on the floor allowing you to see where Red will roll. I do wish Red's Kingdom included that in the tutorial at the beginning of the game; I probably could have been spared a few frustrating moments.
The music mostly fades into the background and doesn't affect the game noticeably, except for the times where the music stops. It almost sounds like the game is going to start playing a new track on a CD — you know the brief couple seconds before the song changes? Instead it just starts replaying what you have already heard, it can get a little repetitive at times, but I was mostly too focused on completing the next puzzle for it to be a huge issue.
My Recommendation: 👍
I can't recommend Red's Kingdom enough! The well-thought-out puzzles that are laid out in beautifully colorful landscapes are enough to make this game worth purchasing on their own, and that's without taking into account all the other great aspects Red's Kingdom.
The gameplay stays fresh and constantly throws new challenges your way, and is so much more than a puzzle game. Red's Kingdom opens the doors to its world and allows you to take non-linear paths giving you the opportunity to explore different areas and find alternate routes to hidden treasures.
Throw in Red's Kingdom's clever scripting and the wacky but lovable cast of characters, and it's a no brainer. Red's Kingdom is a slam dunk!
Luke Filipowicz has been a writer at iMore, covering Apple for nearly a decade now. He writes a lot about Apple Watch and iPad but covers the iPhone and Mac as well. He often describes himself as an "Apple user on a budget" and firmly believes that great technology can be affordable if you know where to look. Luke also heads up the iMore Show — a weekly podcast focusing on Apple news, rumors, and products but likes to have some fun along the way.
Luke knows he spends more time on Twitter than he probably should, so feel free to follow him or give him a shout on social media @LukeFilipowicz.