In this game, the best part was when it crashed

The Washington Post Sunday - - VIDEO GAMES | ON LOVE - BY CHRISTO­PHER BYRD Byrd is a free­lance writer.

Be­fore last week, I would never have guessed that a cor­rupted save file, which snuffed out my progress in a game, could make me­leap joy­fully frommy seat. But that’s what hap­pened when it be­came clear that I wouldn’t have to trudge through Yanim stu­dio’s “Red God­dess: In­ner World” any more. Tellingly, their pro­gram­ming er­ror was my lib­er­a­tion.

“Red God­dess” came to life as a Kick­starter pro­ject with a mod­est goal of $30,000. By the end of the month­long fundrais­ing pe­riod, Yanim stu­dios had raised an ex­tra $10,235. Ex­am­ined from the most gen­er­ous an­gle, Yanim stu­dio’s game could pose as a good call­ing card on the job mar­ket. If I were in the HR depart­ment of a rep­utable de­vel­op­ment stu­dio, I might be im­pressed by what the half-dozen mem­bers of the Span­ish stu­dio were able to cob­ble to­gether on a tiny bud­get. How­ever, it is im­pos­si­ble for me to rec­om­mend this game to any pay­ing con­sumers not look­ing to per­form char­ity work.

“Red God­dess” is a 2D ac­tion plat­former, in the Metroid­va­nia vein, built around an in­ter­est­ing premise: What if an avatar had to do bat­tle with her own psy­che? Play­ers con­trol Di­vine, a young god­dess who, af­ter a fam­ily trauma, loses her mem­ory. Di­vine must travel deep within a world mod­eled on her own in­ner con­flicts to gain a mod­icum of in­ner peace and self-knowl­edge.

I’m all for a video game adopt­ing the tools of psy­cho­anal­y­sis to con­struct an in­ter­est­ing ad­ven­ture. Al­ready, games such as “The Stan­ley Para­ble” have suc­ceeded in liken­ing the her­metic world of sin­gle-player games to a lonely con­scious­ness. Un­for­tu­nately, from what I have seen, “Red God­dess” of­fers noth­ing re­motely stim­u­lat­ing other than its gen­er­ally func­tional game­play and se­verely un­der­nour­ished guid­ing con­cept. I man­aged to get through al­most two of the game’s four acts be­fore my save file was oblit­er­ated soon af­ter in­stalling a pro­gram up­date. Bar­ring any mas­sive turn­around in its sec­ondI feel con­fi­dent in say­ing that “RedGod­dess” has all the nu­ance of a mid­dling first pa­per sub­mit­ted by a fresh­man in an In­tro to Psych class.

Over­look the ty­pos, the fram­er­ate drops, the pop-in graph­ics, the screen jud­der and other bugs, and it’s still im­pos­si­ble to ig­nore the heavy-handed story and clunky game­play. When Di­vine is not faced with some ba­nal plat­form­ing sit­u­a­tion, she has to fight en­e­mies called neg­a­tive thoughts. Chief among the hero­ine’s of­fen­sive ma­neu­vers is her abil­ity to trans­form into a red crea­ture that rep­re­sents rage or a blue crea­ture that rep­re­sents fear. Depend­ing on her in­car­na­tion, Di­vine can take out cor­re­spond­ingly matched red or blue en­e­mies. This po­lar­ity-switch­ing me­chanic pays homage to “Out­land,” a 2D game in the same genre that is markedly su­pe­rior in its game­play and level de­sign and which bor­rowed its color-coded com­bat from the clas­sic Ja­panese space­ship shooter “Ikaruga.”

“Out­land” gave play­ers pre­cise con­trols and dis­tinct en­emy pat­terns that made switch­ing be­tween po­lar­i­ties feel like a dance. In “Red God­dess,” blue and red en­e­mies fre­quently over­lap each other so the me­chanic feels mud­dled. But­ton mashing is al­most un­avoid­able. There is noth­ing el­e­gant about this game and no rea­son for any­one to play it.


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