Developed By : Stranga Games
Published By : Ratalaika Games
Category : Adventure, Role-Playing
Release Date : Jan 17, 2020
Most people love a good horror story. Whether it be a movie, game, a good horror story can be a fun experience. One thing that can make a horror game even more unsettling though, is giving it a cutesy appearance or setting. Applying that layer of innocence over something that’s meant to be dark can be very off-putting for the person holding the controller. This is the approach that Red Bow on the Nintendo Switch takes, and it works quite well.
Welcome to the world of Roh. Or rather, Roh’s nightmare. Her recurring dreamworld has become inhabited by all manner of things dark, and as soon as she steps outside of her house in this dream it disappears. To find her way back home, she must meet the other people (or creatures?) sharing this dark space to figure out how to help them in their struggles and make her way back home…hopefully awake.
You’ll spend your time with Roh in a top-down perspective as you navigate through her nightmare. If you’re worried about dealing with any sort of combat, fret not, because you’ll be instead spending your time solving the puzzles of the world and the people in it.
I’m sure the mention of puzzles in a horror game will draw up some other game titles in people’s minds, and if one of those titles is Resident Evil then the puzzles in this game will feel very familiar. They are all centric around finding different items and bringing them to whom or where they need to go.
Red Bow is designed and presented to you as having multiple endings, encouraging multiple playthroughs. While this should be an element to boost a game’s position, in this case it has a bit of the opposite effect. At least from my time spent in the game, the only real instance I experienced of these multiple plays was after having apparently failed at solving a puzzle and being forced to go back through everything again.
To make matters worse, you would assume that promoting the ability to play a game multiple times would give it a very open feel, but it doesn’t. Everything from the puzzle solutions and steps involved to solve them, to the text dialogues with the others that you meet on Rho’s journey is all extremely repetitive making those instances of replay feel a lot more stale than they should.
Puzzle solutions will require a lot of exploration and talking on your part, and if you’re a person that hates getting a helping hand from the game, Red Bow won’t be holding your hand very much. Some items don’t even appear visually when you inspect a location, like for instance finding the key to one of Roh’s doors in a bookcase with no indication that it’s there. But even when you can tell there’s an item for you to grab, you’ll be figuring out how all on your own. At a later time, there is a glinting object atop a shelf, and interacting with the shelf just confirms that there is something up on top that you can’t reach, instead of some comment along the lines of “It looks like I’ll need a [insert very specific item] to reach that”.
This game appears to have a lot of potential at a quick glance. And while some of that is missed on the execution, what does connect leaves a pretty enjoyable game to play. While comparisons may be initially drawn to other horror works, Red Bow does nothing intentionally to rip these other titles off. If you’re a fan of the creepy things and puzzles, you will definitely be able to get some enjoyment out of it.