App Reviewed on: iPad Air 2
User Interface Rating:
Replay Value Rating:
On its face, Red's Kingdom is a very simple puzzle game. In it, you play as a squirrel who can only move via rolling in a straight line until hitting an obstacle to stop. It's easy to imagine this slide-till-you-stop mechanic being used in a series of self-contained puzzle rooms that involve turn limits or star ratings between them, but that is not what Red's Kingdom does with it at all. Instead, Red's Kingdom presents itself as a grand adventure, complete with an open world, collectibles, special items, and more, making its puzzling feel more akin to The Legend of Zelda than Cut the Rope in all the best ways.
A reason to roll
Red's Kingdom opens with a quick cinematic showing the reason for your entire quest. The evil squirrel king stole all of your nuts and your grandfather while you were at home sleeping, and now it's up to you to re-gather your foodstuffs and rescue your family. It's a silly story for sure, but it's one that matches Red's Kingdom's cartoony aesthetic, which looks nice in screenshots, but even better when animating on screen.
From here, it's up to you to swipe on the screen to make Red roll around the environment, which is a series of interconnected puzzle rooms based on the game's movement system.
As a proper Zelda-like adventure, your task in Red's Kingdom isn't as simple as rolling straight down to the king and confronting him. In order to reach the throne room, you need to explore different environments to collect items that will help you access previously inaccessible areas.
While some of these items are simple MacGuffins, there are also quite a few that transform the way you can interact with the environment, like a medallion that allows you to break pots and a wing suit that allows you to glide off of ramps. As you gather the items that unlock new areas, new obstacles, enemies, and mechanics emerge too, which allows Red's Kingdom to build really intricate and tricky puzzles that keep the game's simple formula interesting throughout.
My final hour count upon finishing Red's Kingdom was about five hours (though I didn't 100% the game). Although I really enjoyed the experience, it was not quite perfect. The game has some issues with checkpointing, its map could be clearer, and some of the backtracking to go fetch items can feel tedious.
That said, the whole time I was playing I had a hard time putting the game down. Between the game's premise, puzzle design, and charming aesthetic, playingRed's Kingdom was simply a pleasure. Its mix of puzzle mechanics with the broad scope of an open-world adventure works extremely well, even if there are times when it isn't firing on all cylinders.
The bottom line
Red's Kingdom's individual components are all very familiar, but they're constructed in a way that I haven't really seen before. This makes playing it feel both fresh and comfortingly familiar. As a puzzle game, it's top-notch, and it just so happens to be a pretty great adventure game too. There's very little out there quite like Red's Kingdom, so you should go pick it up and try it for yourself.