By – Sophie Jones

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What if Red Riding Hood didn’t need the Huntsman to kill a wolf? What if the Big Bad Wolf was infact a tyrannical leader? One possible answer to these questions lies in GriN’s gothic adaptation of the classic fairy tale. This game transformed me into an axe wielding heroine on a path of revenge and justice. I didn’t take any prisoners as I cut through the hordes of tin soldiers that stood in my way. Red Riding Hood’s days of delivering food to her granny are well and truly over in this adventure.

Woolfe is a single player game that follows the journey of Red Riding Hood as she tries to uncover the mystery behind her fathers death. The main antagonist of the game, B.B Woolfe, rules the city of Ulrica. This once thriving capital is now barren and depressing due to Woolfe’s tyranny and his army of tin soldiers.  With Red narrating the progression through cutscenes and monologues, the story is exceptionally engaging thanks to the voice acting which enthralls you into caring about her quest. However, there were times where the script disappointed me as jokes fell flat or particular phrases didn’t suit the protagonist’s established character.

Furthermore, the narrative was rather one sided as none of the enemies had a voice. This lead to many awkward confrontations where Red would ask them lots of questions and be left guessing as the antagonists stared on blankly, it was as if the animations hadn’t been adapted from the early access phase. The big bads were therefore unestablished and I never felt threatened by them, or really understood their motivations. This detail meant the story lacked the impact it could have had as Red’s opponents were missing in presence.

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On the other hand, the game’s lore is enriched via its collectibles which unlock diary entries. These logs delve into the history of Ulrica by telling the player the untold account of B.B Woolfe’s childhood and much more. These are a marvellous addition that players who take the time to find them will learn more about about the wider world.  Depressingly, the game didn’t last as long as I had hoped and I was rather disgruntled as the credits rolled after a cliffhanger. If there was anything I would change it would be to increase the length and end the plot after a more definitive point. Nevertheless, its a tale I loved hearing and I would play it again.

GriN have brought Woolfe to life by using a majestic artistic style. The textures are splendid and the environments create a world bursting with ambience and character. The colours used in the city of Ulrica are dull and drab to mirror the depression in the area. However, when Red enters the forest, the colours are as vibrant as her red cloak, and the feelings of suppression are rinsed away.  The vibrancy and textures of the forest level can be appreciated further by altering the graphical settings. Some of these include multi sampling, dynamic shadows and ambient occlusion. I managed to play the game on its highest settings and it was  visually stunning!

In particular the water effects were amazing and better than what  you find in most AAA games.Whilst adventuring I didn’t experience any glitches. However, I did witness dips in the frame rate which resulted in the game freezing for a second (with vsync and highest settings on).  GriN managed to impress me with their refined textures and the game truly appealed to my eyes.  Though my eyes were pleased, my ears had a harder time of it. With only four tracks the music could be rather irritating. Each song contained loud chimes which were abrasive to listen to, especially because the balancing was poor and the music drowned out the other audio aspects significantly.

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Throughout the game I was never hopelessly lost or died unfairly. It was always clear which objects could be climbed or interacted with (via flashing ledges etc.) and thus I could enjoyably run and jump ecstatically without fear of dying unfairly.  Additionally, I was fond of how various gameplay mechanics were introduced. It never overloaded you with information. Instead, it gradually taught different techniques and special moves as the game progressed. This tactic paid off as it kept Woolfe exciting and fresh as there was always something new to try out on the next batch of enemies.

The controls were easy to learn and combat consisted of two melee moves and four magical attacks. Despite the lack of combos available I never felt bored with the gameplay due to the challenging enemies which kept me on my toes. Fights were especially hard when I had to fight multiple tin soldiers and the rolling button in these instances became my best friend. These battles had to be carefully assessed and each magical ability executed when necessary. One opponent in particular was exceptionally difficult to defeat: the electrical tin soldier. During my time playing the game, on Medium, I only encountered one. I tried to kill the electrical combatant several times but never succeeded due to my inability to predict when he would strike. Thankfully, I could run away from this menace as one hit, as opposed to the usual four, was fatal! Even though I hated this foe I would have preferred to see more so I could test my abilities.

On the other hand, the main boss fights were too easy: The Pied Piper battle was specifically effortless.The cutscene before told players exactly how to open the gate and progress further, preventing my enjoyment of finding these things out for myself. Bosses are meant to be the hardest aspect of a game and really challenge you, however, this never happened and I was left slightly dispirited as the developers could have really bulked these sections out. This also meant that the bog standard enemies were harder to fight than the main ones, which was odd.

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Conclusion – Is it Worth Your Money?

Woolfe – The Red Hood Diaries is a game that oozes passion in every aesthetic detail. The story is a typical fairy tale made gothic, but this didn’t bother me,as GriN’s visual representation of it made it fresh. I enjoyed every moment of Red Riding Hood sassily walking around and destroying tin soldiers in her wake. My main gripe was with the difficulty, it felt disjointed due to most of my deaths resulting from tin soldiers and not the bosses.  All in all, the game runs about 3 hours and is priced at £6.99/$9.99, which is steep for the amount of gameplay you get. Even though I loved this game tremendously, the challenge was missing, and thus, I would wait until this game hits a Steam sale before purchasing.

Woolfe – The Red Hood Diaries Technical Summary:

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  • Time Played – 3 Hours
  • Widescreen Support – Yes
  • Windowed Mode – Yes
  • Resolution Played –  1920×1080
  • Bugs/Crashes Encountered – Framerate dips, momentary freezing issues.
  • DRM – Steamworks
  • System Specs – i7-4790K @4 GHz, 8GB RAM, GeForce GTX 770
  • Control Scheme – M/KB and Controller Support
  • Game Acquisition Method – Review Copy
  • Availability – Steam
  • Demo – No

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