Featuring a surreal world of monsters and nightmares, GrabTheGames and Stranga’s new title Red Bow transports players to a place where things aren’t what they seem. Does this top-down throwback captivate players, or is the end result an incoherent mess?

Red Bow Review

Things kick off when the little girl Roh wakes up from a dream. However, after leaving her empty place, she finds herself in a foggy world that she doesn’t recognize. As she explores her new surroundings, she soon comes across a hanging woman that still lives. She soon comes to learn that she is in a place that lies between life and death, and things only get weirder from there.

Broken up into a number of different areas, players will soon find themselves in markets, ships, and lighthouses, given cryptic messages about what they should and should not do. All Roh wants to do is find a way home, but there are a number of sinister creatures that have made these zones home, and not everybody has her best intentions in mind.

This horror-like premise is a novel one, but the execution leaves something to be desired. It’s perfectly fine to leave players guessing as they find themselves absorbed in a world of whimsy. However, the script constantly goes in different directions every few minutes, with players barely able to adjust to their surroundings before being brought to the next area. It’s jarring, and while some can argue that it was done intentionally to add to the feeling of uneasiness, it does not work as the developers intended it to when all is said and done.

The same goes with the puzzles that Roh finds herself in. In order to progress, players must utilize their inventory and collect items along the way. However, Red Bow fights the player every step of the way when it comes to select puzzles. Checking areas multiple times, odd combinations, and instant fail states quickly lead to frustration. It often feels like the developers want the player to experience the game their way, and that way isn’t always clear cut. When one does get a fail state, those that did not save along the way will be back at the title screen.

It’s not like this is the longest title around though – our playthrough of Red Bow clocked in at a little less than an hour. The game is generous with the amount of achievements that it gives out, but those hoping for a meaty adventure will be sorely disappointed.

It should be worth noting that the spritework of Red Bow is solid. Modeled after the 16-bit JRPGs made famous on the Super Nintendo, its top-down view features a fair amount of detail. Characters contort while its different worlds bristle with life.

Red Bow proves to be more of an incoherent dream than a lucid one. The cryptic puzzles and lack of focus manage to sully the overall presentation, making it a tough playthrough for even the most diehard of horror fans.

This review of Red Bow was done on the PC. The game was purchased digitally.
Red Bow Review

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