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Woolfe: The Red Hood Diaries is a dark reinvention of classic fairytale fiction

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My, what a big axe you have!

Over the last three years, Kickstarter has totally changed the game for many developers. With the option to crowdfund projects, cut out the middle-man (publishers), and communicate directly with fans to help create the game, we've seen a number of projects find audiences well before their release. And many of these projects seek to offer something a bit different than what you'd expect from retail releases.

That's what the developers at GRIN Game Studio (no relation to former developer GRIN of Bionic Commando: Rearmed fame) are planning with their uniquely macabre journey through fairy-tale fiction in Woolfe: The Red Hood Diaries. In this re-imagining of the classic tale, Red must exact revenge against an army of clockwork soldiers while traveling through a dark and twisted world filled with monsters and other foes from fairytale fiction.

During our chat with the CEO of GRIN at the Game Developers Conference, we learned about their vision for this two-part adventure, and how crowdfunding breathed new life into the project.

Woolfe: The Red Hood Diaries (PC [previewed], PlayStation  4, Xbox One)
Developer: GRIN Game Studio

Publisher: GRIN Game Studio
Release date: March 17, 2015 (Part I)
MSRP: $9.99

"It's a very exciting time," said CEO of GRIN Game Studio Wim Wouters. "Two years we've been working on this title now, and for our first big title it's certainly a crazy position to be in."

In the span of six months, the developers successfully funded Woolfe through Kickstarter and is already set for release this week. Of course, GRIN already spent years developing the title on its own, but the studio needed the extra funds to push through development. With the support the team found from crowdfunding, it was able to expand its vision and create a deeper game. With this relatively quick turnaround, the CEO of Grin felt it was important to live up to the setting of its game in a timely manner.

"We wanted to keep our promise [to the backers]. And even though it's a split release, the first part coming in March and the next coming later this year, the backers were very supportive of our decision," he said. 

Set in a radically altered take of the Little Red Riding Hood fairytale, Woolfe brings players into a world filled with magic and conspiracy. Taking place in an era vaguely reminiscent of the 1800s during the Industrial Revolution, you take on the role a young axe-wielding Red Riding Hood who must navigate the city and surrounding wilderness to uncover the mystery behind her parents' deaths, and how other characters from fairytale lore might be connected. Along the way, she'll come into conflict with Woolfe, the human leader (and alternate incarnation of the big bad wolf) of an army of clockwork soldiers that wishes to rule the land.

Of course, many people saw instant parallels with American McGee's Alice. Which is fair, as Woolfe shares its darker aesthetic and approach to fantasy fiction. Though despite that, the two games are totally different from one another. Wouters and the developers at Grin would get the comparisons often, and while they see it as flattering to be compared to a game they admire, they also expressed that it put a lot of pressure on them to make sure they could deliver.

As Red, you'll explore a variety of different environments in 2.5D fashion. Though it looks purely like a side-scroller, you're able to explore the backgrounds of the levels to uncover clues and find switches to advance your path. Along the way, you'll encounter creatures and other foes that must be dispatched with Red's axe or magical abilities. In some cases, you'll have to use stealth to maneuver past foes and other obstacles to find clues. Combat plays a large focus in Red Hood Diaries, as you'll have to battle waves of enemies often. Controls are simple for the most part, but the game feels accessible and smooth. Woolfe does a good job of handling both combat and platforming, and it's all paced pretty well.

During my session, I traveled through the streets of the city while on the hunt for the Pied   Piper, who's been abducting the children of the city. Finding his trail within the sewers, Red explored the depths of the city to uncover the lair of the traveling child abductor. This interpretation of the character was a man who was gangly and disgusting in appearance. His new look matched the creepiness of his character's origins, and seeing Red track him through the sewers and confront him was big and exciting moment to take part in.

By far, the most striking element of Woolfe is the visual design. The environments are stunning, both vibrant in terms of color, but also detailed enough to show that the world is filled with many denizens and lived in. Though a lot of devs are moving on to Unreal Engine 4, UE3 is still putting in a lot of work and shows off some impressive designs. It's very much a chaotic mix between the prose and detail of the Brothers Grimm's fairy tales, with the style and tone of the films from Tim Burton. Which is everything I'd want to see in a dark fairytale.

It was certainly an intriguing title to play, though the build I was playing was slightly older than the complete one and featured some bugs and minor platforming and graphical quirks, particularly with somewhat janky animations. Still, I was totally drawn in by the world that GRIN Game Studio created. It's not that often we get such a unique reinterpretation of fairytale fiction, especially for that of Red Riding Hood. And for $9.99, it's a nice way to get a proper introduction into the world of Woolfe before venturing off into the second part of the adventure set for release later this year. If you're into grim fairy tales and want a nice little adventure title to explore, this is definitely one you'll want to keep on your radar.

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Alessandro Fillari
Alessandro FillariStaff Writer   gamer profile

A San Francisco native, he's an admirer of the city's diverse culture and lifestyle. Prior to joining the staff, he was a contributor and an editor for his college newspaper where he wrote articl... more + disclosures


 


 



Filed under... #Action #adventure #GDC #Interview #Kickstarter #Platform games #Previews

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