There have been a lot of variations on the tale of Little Red Riding Hood. But there’s never been a version where Little Red jumps between rotating planets avoiding shadow creatures, collecting floating apples, and freeing caged rabbits. Finally, we’ve got a competent, casual platformer that fits the bill! And it comes complete with the “pretty” storybook graphics and derivative creepy/sweet music that classify so many indie titles. Twisted Adventures: Little Red Riding Hood is a perfectly unambitious, casual 2D platformer, if you’re into that sort of thing.
Twisted Adventures falls into what it would appear is becoming a subgenre: 2D platformers about launching a character from spinning planet to spinning planet. Other games in this subgenre include Mighty Milky Way, Aether (kind of), and Little Galaxy which was recently reviewed on this very site. The latter hews closest to how Twisted Adventures plays. All the player has control over is the timing of Red’s jumps as she saunters clockwise around each planet. Tapping anywhere launches her. Tapping again while airborne performs a double-jump.
To complete each level, Red must land on the planet furthest to the right. However, other worlds are unlocked by collecting apples and freeing caged rabbits. Each level also contains a random number of what look like snowflakes laid out in arcs that help dictate the trajectory you should go for when jumping. Collecting all the snowflakes appears to be an optional achievement as they don’t contribute toward unlocking worlds.
Getting in Red’s way are shadowy creatures that send her back to the start of the level. Some just hang about in-between planets to be avoided. Others prowl along planet surfaces at a slower speed than Red, forcing you to launch her before she collides with them. In the last world, Red leaves behind a murderous shadow version of herself wherever she lands. Other obstacles include smoke clouds that temporarily obscure your view and planets that periodically shoot out spikes. And, of course, it’s always possible to mistime a jump and fall to your doom.
What makes Twisted Adventures so mediocre is that, even though it technically follows the tenets of proper game design by gradually introducing new hazards, it never becomes any more challenging. There are 60 levels, but I breezed through them in a few hours, never really altering my strategy. It was hardly necessary to keep track of my apple and rabbit count as I was always well over the number needed to progress. In fact, I had enough to unlock the fifth and final world before finishing the third. This didn’t matter, however, as Twisted Adventures only allows for linear progression, even though—with its tiny levels and barely-there storyline—it feels like the kind of game that should let the player tackle levels in any order.
In terms of presentation, Twisted Adventures is one of those games that’s going to get away with being called “pretty” by less critical folk as it adopts that “dark storybook” look that’s all the rage with indies these days. Similar looking titles include Limbo, The Misadventures of P.B. Winterbottom, Don’t Starve, Contre Jour, Fufur and Nublo, and Badland. Some of these games put their own spin on this style, while others slap it on and call it a day. Twisted Adventures falls into the latter category.
The background is subtlety animated and changes from world to world and Red’s design with her long, trailing hood is charming enough. It’s also a nice touch that plants grow from every planet Red lands on. But shadowy creatures with glowing eyes feel overwrought and the overall look of each level is sparse, samey and flat. It overall results in a look that doesn’t come off as stylized; it just looks as though the game could easily be recreated in a browser window in Flash.
The music, too, is plagiaristic. As with Contre Jour, Twisted Adventures cribs shamelessly from the soundtrack to the film Amélie. Aside from the snippets of music you hear on the title screen or in the brief cut scenes, you really only hear one track for the entire game: basically a less good, alternative take on Yann Tiersen’s “La Valse d’Amélie.” It’s hard to judge it as anything except a rip-off of something better. As for sound effects, it’s cute the way Red giggles each time she rescues a bunny, but beyond that there’s nothing worth mentioning.
Twisted Adventures: Little Red Riding Hood is an effectively competent 2D platforming distraction. Maybe it’s unfair to judge it for not being more ambitious as it doesn’t seem to be trying to be anything but casual. But that doesn’t excuse the lazy approach that adds it to the extensive number of unremarkable titles giving mobile gaming a bad name. I mean, why is this a Red Riding Hood game? In what way is it “twisted?” Why planets? Why is she rescuing bunnies? It’s just a bunch of generic gaming garbage coated in a familiar indie sauce. Check out Badland for a game that has stylistic similarities to this one, but is genuinely beautiful, unique, and proof that “casual” doesn’t have to be synonymous with “average.”
Is it Hardcore?
A serviceable, casual 2D platformer. If that’s all you need to be appeased, go for it, but some of us hope for more from our gaming experiences.