Red Game Without a Great Name is a touch-based Vita game with a standout visual style and a heavy dose of tablet-inspired action/puzzle gaming.
The Vita has increasingly become a platform for indie developers and publishers. This is partly because of a lack of first party support, but also because of digital distribution through the Playstation Store. Much richer in terms of content than Nintendo’s store for 3DS owner, the Playstation Store is home to an ever-growing collection of small Vita games – and Red Game Without a Great Name is one of them. Unlike the majority of games, however, Red Game wasn’t developed with traditional consoles and handhelds in mind. The initial platform for Red Game was iOS, which shows in the heavy use of the Vita’s touch screen.
In terms of visual style, Red Game Without a Great Name reminded me of Badland, which we covered for the Vita last year. It’s a striking style which effectively uses shades and darkness to offer contrast – in the case of Red Game, contrast with the color red. A lot of red. Despite the similarities, it’s an eye-catching look and it makes for a visually attractive game.
Carefully navigating through levels is another similarity to Badland, but Red Game is a different beast altogether. Optimized for touch, expect to be swiping your way through the game’s 60 or so levels – with a learning curve easing you through the first 10 or so. The core mechanic remains the same throughout the entire game though – you launch your mechanical bird across the screen using finger swipes, with ever more complicated traps standing in your way and in the way of the different collectibles you need to get to a “100% complete” status.
It’s easy to pick up, it’s addictive, but harder to master than you’d think at first. This isn’t just because of the learning curve, it also has a little to do with the Vita as a hardware platform. With a touch screen that’s considerably smaller than an iPad, it’s harder to be accurate when launching – and this will most definitely result in moments of frustration where you thought “you had it”. You’re also under time pressure, making things more challenging, and we’ve spotted a few cases where we couldn’t blame a death solely on the Vita’s screen size – cases where the conversion to the Vita (and its controls) just felt unoptimized. Here’s hoping for a patch that will rectify some of these issues.
Luckily, the level design in the game is excellent – it’s that perfect balance of “I can do it!” and “man, this is frustrating!”. This makes Red Game Without a Great Name a great diversion when traveling and good value for its (budget) price. However, the game is more at home on its native iOS platform, so if you have an iPad then you might want to check that version out instead. If not, then it’s a decent example of tablet-style gaming for your Sony handheld.